June 4, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out on Sunday against U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s leaders for their new regional alliance against Tehran, saying it would bear no fruit.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. Leader.ir/Handout via REUTERS

Trump singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups during his visit to Saudi Arabia in late May, two days after the Iranian election in which pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani won a second term.

During Trump’s visit to Riyadh, the U.S. sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional arch-rival.

Khamenei called the visit a display of brazenness.

“The U.S. president stands alongside the leaders of a tribal and backward system and does the sword dance, but criticises an Iranian election with 40 million votes,” the supreme leader said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

“Even with a multi-billion dollar bribe to America, the Saudis cannot achieve their goals in the region,” he said.

Khamenei accused Washington of double standards, saying it turned a blind eye to the “killing of Yemeni people in mosques, streets and their homes,” while claiming to promote human rights around the world.

Saudi Arabia is leading a Sunni Arab coalition fighting the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen, part of the same regional power struggle that is fuelling the war in Syria.

The Iranian president championed a nuclear deal with the United States and five other major powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran, in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

The landmark deal, however, has not led to normalisation of ties between the two countries that Tehran hoped for.

Trump has frequently called the agreement “one of the worst deals ever signed” and said Washington would review it.

European countries, Russia and China have expressed concern that the Trump administration might withdraw from the deal.

“European leaders are now saying the Americans are not trustworthy. Imam Khomeini said the same thing more than 30 years ago,” Khamenei said at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, marking the 1989 death of the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Relations with Washington were broken after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and enmity to the United States has long been a rallying point for hardline supporters of Khamenei in Iran.

Khamenei hailed the high turnout in the election, saying that it showed the majority of Iranians still supported the Islamic revolution and its uncompromising values.