Soleimani slams Saudi Arabia and Western 'moral decay'
During a speech in the Iranian city of Malayer on Thursday Soleimani criticised calls for Iran to normalise relations with “the enemy” stating that Western interference in the Middle East had led to wars that had killed over one million people in the last 16 years.
The leader of the Iranian Quds force also said that moral and cultural depravity in the Western world had reached the extent that the president of a large Western country “chooses his mistress over his wife,” a veiled reference to French President Francois Hollande.
Soleimani further described the ruling family of Saudi Arabia as a “cursed and malicious tree” expressing anger that the House of Saud presided over the holiest sites in Islam, rejecting calls for Tehran to engage in dialogue with their main regional rival.
In May, Tehran banned its citizens from travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj following a stampede at last year’s pilgrimage that Iran says resulted in the deaths of 464 Iranians.
Diplomatic ties between the two states have since been cut amid growing animosity also related to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, and the execution of Saudi Shia Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
In contrast to his scathing descriptions of Saudi Arabia and the Western world Soleimani described Iran as “safe and competent” rebuking accusations that the theocratic state is isolated from the outside world.
"If we live in isolation, so why the enemy seeks to make treaties and to build relations with us?" Soleimani is reported to have said according to Araby 21.
As leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force – roughly comparable to a combination of the CIA and Special Forces – Soleimani, who rarely appeared in public before Syria’s Civil War, has been at the forefront of Iranian military interventions in Syria, Iraq, and the provision of arms to Houthi rebels Yemen.
He is viewed by many as a controversial figure.
Over the last couple of years, since emerging from a life directing covert operations in the shadows, he has become a cult-like figure in Iran, and amongst pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.
In Syria the head of the Quds force was credited with developing a coherent strategy helping the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to reverse losses sustained against rebel forces before Russian military intervention.
But Soleimani has also faced accusations of sponsoring terrorism during covert operations to expand Iranian regional influence in the Middle East.
In 2014 Canada's then-foreign minister, John Baird, branded him an "agent of terror in the region disguised as a hero" fighting IS.