Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it recently busted a terrorist cell that was trained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), arresting 10 members and confiscating weapons and explosives in the process. These arrests took place last week, according to a communiqué issued by the State Security Presidency, a Saudi intelligence agency, after an investigation uncovered the identities of the suspects and their hideouts.
In the statement, the spokesman for the Security Presidency said that three of the detainees had been trained in Iran and had received "military and field training on how to make explosives", between October and December 2017 in locations linked to the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.
The other seven, according to SPA, the official Saudi press agency, were linked to the group in different roles, although Riyadh did not wish to reveal the identities of those arrested "in the interest of the investigation", as the authorities are seeking to gather more information about their activities and connections both inside and outside the Saudi kingdom.
In addition to the arrests, the Saudi security forces seized more than five kilograms of gunpowder, packages containing chemicals and military uniforms. They also confiscated listening devices, computers, knives, Kalashnikov machine guns, rifles, pistols and ammunition.
Saudi Arabia, Sunni, and Iran, Shia, are involved in several power struggles in the region: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Lebanon. Riyadh blames Teheran for attacks on its installations, while the Islamic Republic denies this and views America's increased presence in the Saudi kingdom as a provocation and threat to its interests in the region. A few months ago a United Nations report confirmed the "Iranian origin" of the cruise missiles used in the attack on several Saudi oil installations and the Abha international airport.
The United States' support for Riyadh throughout the 2000's has served as a guarantor for US interests in the region. The 2015 nuclear agreement signed by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States marked a turning point in the region. This pact urged Teheran to reduce its nuclear programme in exchange for removing economic sanctions. This agreement was not liked in Riyadh, as it threatened its regional dominance as the international community welcomed the trade opportunities and the Persian country became a new source of oil, giving the Iranian regime a certain amount of legitimacy.
During this period Riyadh launched several operations that threatened Iranian interests in the region, such as in Yemen, where the kingdom continues to wage war against Iranian-backed rebels; or in Syria, where Riyadh supports anti-government Islamist groups
The execution of several members of the Saudi Arabian Shiite community, including the cleric Nimr al-Nimr, in January 2016, led to violent protests in the streets of the Iranian capital and the demonstrators even set fire to the Saudi embassy. As a result, Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran.