On March 1, Saudi police arrested a prominent Shi'ite cleric in what was
termed a measure to prevent unrest in the Eastern Province. News of the
arrest sparked a plunge in the Saudi stock market to its lowest level since
Dehqan, regarded as a leading parliamentary ally of the regime of
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Saudi Arabia has been oppressing its
people for years. The parliamentarian, a member of the presiding board, said
Riyad would eventually be held accountable for abuses against Shi'ites and
"Saudi Arabia should account for the suppressions of the Shi'ite and
Sunni people in the country for numerous years," Dehqan said.
In remarks reported by Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, Dehqan
suggested that Saudi Arabia, with a Shi'ite community of at least 10 percent
of the kingdom, could be the next target of the Arab revolt. He said the
Saudi kingdom has been alarmed over calls for regime change in both
neighboring Bahrain and Yemen.
"Considering that the developments in Bahrain and Yemen affect the
situation in Saudi Arabia, the country feels grave danger and interferes in
the internal affairs of these states," Dehqan said.
Officials said Teheran has been dismayed by what was termed Saudi
measures against Iranians. They said the kingdom has ignored Teheran's
demands to stop fingerprinting Iranian visitors, including a soccer team
that arrived in late February for the Asian Games.
"As regards the fingerprinting of [Iran's] Persepolis in the Jedda
airport, we will retaliate and fingerprint Al Ittihad [soccer team] of Saudi
Arabia," Hussein Naqavi, a member of parliament's Foreign Affairs and
Security Committee, said.
The Saudi opposition has scheduled protests on March 11 and March 20. So
far, 119 Saudi academics and activists have issued
a call for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
Officials said Iran has determined that the Arab unrest would not affect
the Teheran regime. They said many of the Arab countries would undergo
regime change in what would ensure Iranian domination of the Middle East.
"Iran's pivotal role in the new Middle East is undeniable," Gen.
Yadollah Janavi, political chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps, told a conference on Feb. 28. "Today, developments in North Africa,
Egypt, Tunisia and some other countries have a special meaning for the