NEW DELHI: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, speaking on the occasion of Eid, has urged the “World of Islam” to express “disdain” against “oppressors” during the month of Ramzan of Yemen, Bahrain, and in a new clear addition Kashmir.

In a statement that is likely to elicit a stiff response from New Delhi, the Ayatollah said, said, “the Islamic Nations are covered in wounds: Conflicts in Yemen, Bahrain, problems in all Islamic countries, are major wounds on the body of Islam. The World of Islam should explicitly support the people of Yemen, and express their disdain against the oppressors who've attacked the people in such horrible ways during the month of Ramadan.”

And added, “the same is true for the people of Bahrain and Kashmir: Our people can back this great movement within the World of Islam. Just as we explicitly express our position against enemies and adversaries, the world of Islam--especially the elites in it--should follow this path and take a position towards seeking to please God, absolutely, even if it leads to dissatisfaction of the arrogant front.”

Iran has taken a position against the Saudi attack on Yemen, and Bahrain but has been one of the countries that has supported India on Kashmir by maintaining a stoic silence. This statement thus, is highly significant as:

One, it denotes a shift from the traditional Iran position on Kashmir and speaks of the Valley as a ‘nation’ in itself. The Ayatollah does not mention India directly, but has used the word “oppressor” that also brings Saudi Arabia into the ambit insofar as the other two countries are concerned.

Two, it is s step ahead of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation of 57 countries that perforce issue statements on Kashmir, as part of what New Delhi perceives as routine, and responds accordingly. The Ayatollah’s remarks on Eid, addressing a mass congregation, are far more serious and spell a serious intervention on the issue of Kashmir.

Three, and by linking Kashmir to war torn Yemen Iran is clearly sending out a message to the world, and specifically Saudi Arabia.

The remarks come even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting US President Donald Trump in Washington. Trump has made it clear that his policy will be anti-Iran, and could include a reversal of the nuclear agreement reached with Tehran under his predecessor Barack Obama’s watch. As sources here said, PM Modi can now be expected to make common cause with Presidient Trump on Iran. He is also scheduled to visit Israel that remains determinedly against Iran as well.

However, Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian government have been fairly dismissive of the threats being issued from time to time, and clearly the remarks made today were deliberate and well thought out. The Iranians speak with precision, and very rarely say a word more than they mean.

(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR: Eid was far from peaceful in the Valley, with clashes reported from)