Rouhani blames 'protection of America' for Saudi's death

Iranian President says murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would have been unthinkable "without US backing."

Elad Benari,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said that the “heinous murder” of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would have been unthinkable "without US backing," AFP reported.

"I don't think that any country would dare do such a thing without US backing," he was quoted as having said in remarks to cabinet.

Rouhani said that before Khashoggi's murder "it would have been unthinkable that in this day and age we would witness such an organized felony.”

He added, "It is extremely significant that an institution planned such a heinous murder. The tribal group that is ruling that nation (Saudi Arabia) has a security margin. That security margin is that it relies on US backing. It is this superpower that is backing them."

Khashoggi has been missing since October 2, when he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Turkish government has accused Saudi Arabia of murdering the dissident journalist and chopping his body into pieces.

Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time on Friday that Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul, after previously denying Turkish claims that he was murdered.

Khashoggi was a fierce critic of the Crown Prince, who denied in a conversation with US President Donald Trump that he was responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

Trump on Tuesday ramped up his rhetoric against Saudi Arabia over the death of Khashoggi, describing the kingdom’s efforts to hide the journalist’s killing as the “worst cover-up ever.”

On Monday, Trump said in an interview with USA Today that he still believed Khashoggi’s murder was “a plot gone awry”.

Iran has closely followed the backlash faced by its regional rival Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi murder.

The two countries back opposing sides in countries such as Syria, where the Iranian regime supports President Bashar Al-Assad while the Saudis back the rebels trying to oust him.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called on Iran to stop its “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom's neighbors.

Iran has fired back, accusing Saudi Arabia of trying to “drag the entire region into confrontation”.