Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian pledged renewed support for allied militant groups in the Middle East, while calling for a political solution to the current outbreak of violence.
“The resistance alone is capable of carrying out any action and has the means to do so,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in Beirut on Saturday, amid fears the deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas will spread throughout the region.
He said that a range of scenarios had been discussed in meetings with leaders of allied groups in the region, warning, “everyone has drafted scenarios, and everyone has their hand on the trigger.”
Israeli warplanes and artillery have been pounding the Gaza Strip, a densely populated Palestinian territory, in response to coordinated attacks on Israel from Gaza by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
Hamas militants last weekend killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in border towns and at a music festival in what is considered the worst massacre in Israeli history.
Amirabdollahian again issued strong warnings to Israel and demanded further bombardment of Gaza to stop.
Nevertheless, he said Iran sees room for diplomacy.
“There is still a possibility for diplomatic measures, but tomorrow will be too late: These crimes must be stopped immediately,” he said.
Israel has been Iran’s declared enemy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Tehran has expanded its political and military ties in the region since the 1990s, creating an “axis of resistance” with the support of Shiite militias.
Amirabdollahian also said he saw Iran and Saudi Arabia as united in the current situation.
“Tehran and Riyadh are united in preventing the Zionist regime’s crimes against the people of the Gaza Strip,” he added.
And as he sees Saudi Arabia and Iran move closer together, Amirabdollahian ruled out any possible rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“This is completely off the table,” he said when asked if Islamist Hamas’ large-scale attack on Israel could impact on talks to normalise relations between the two countries.
Amirabdollahian on Saturday evening also met with Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, in the Qatari capital of Doha, videos obtained by state news agency IRNA showed.
Qatar has been one of Hamas’ main backers for about 15 years.
The rich Gulf emirate supports the Islamist movement mainly politically and provides financial aid, for example for the reconstruction of infrastructure after Israeli attacks.
Haniyeh himself lives in Qatar.
Earlier, Saudi diplomatic circles said Saudi Arabia had halted the U.S.-brokered talks.
Some say the attacks by Islamist Hamas may have aimed to prevent a possible normalisation of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is seen as a key protector of the Palestinians.
Relations between regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia have been highly strained for years though the two announced plans to resume diplomatic relations in March.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei this week rejected accusations that Tehran was involved in the unprecedented attack on Israel amid reports in some Western media that Iranian officials had a hand in the plot.
White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby has said the U.S. believes Iran has “broad complicity” in the attack but that Washington has no evidence to suggest a direct link.
Amirabdollahian is currently visiting Iran’s allies in the region and was in Beirut on Friday, where he also met Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. (dpa/NAN)