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Controversial Saudi prince's remarks could reshape Middle East

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Saudi Arabia's open support of an Iranian opposition group -- the same group accused by Iran of terrorism -- is what many are calling the beginning of the "redrawing of some lines of history."

A Saudi prince called for the ouster of Iran's hardline theocratic regime, throwing his support behind a dissident group.

'Hard to believe'

Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki bin Faisal recently spoke before the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Paris. He publicly supported Iranian dissident leader Maryam Rajavi and her group, the People's Mujahedin of Iran.

The group's military arm, known as the MEK, has been accused by Iran of being a terrorist organization.

The announcement stunned former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who attended the event.

"What I saw was perhaps the redrawing of some lines of history that everybody has insisted will persist until the millennium or the next millennium," said Mukasey, who attended the event.

That was "historical," said Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, who also was there.

"That tells you that the Saudis are beginning to believe that the current dictatorship is such a threat, that they need to publicly, openly be with the Iranian freedom movement (and) that Iran is really a danger to the stability of the whole region," he said.

'Even the Doves found this shocking'

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"This is an absolute astonishing event," said Howard Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate, told Circa at the event.

What was said

The prince addressed NCRI's leader Iranian Rajavi, who had also told the crowd during her speech that "the overthrow of the religious dictatorship [in Iran] is possible and within reach."

Faisal later responded with, "your legitimate struggle against the Khomeinist regime will achieve its goal, sooner, rather than later."

"I, too, want the overthrow of the regime," said Faisel, who was once the head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence branch.

Iran quick to respond

Ramazan Sharif, the spokesman for Iran's elite military unit known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in interviews in Iran that Faisal's speech indicates "the longstanding link" between Saudi Arabia and the MEK.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, former deputy foreign minister for Arab and African Affairs, said Saudi Arabia's support of the MEK in the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, "confirm that Saudi Arabia's widespread financial and security support for terrorism has always been the agenda of Riyadh." Iran accused the MEK of paying large sums of money for dignitaries to come speak at the event.

Here's the backstory

U.S. officials have accused Iran of encroaching both militarily and politically into the Middle East.

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Retired commandant of the Marine Corps and four-star General James Conway, who also attended the event, told Circa that Iran's involvement stretches far into Iraq and Syria, where Iranian backed groups like Hezbollah are utilized in proxy wars and integrated into the political system.

"If you accept that a future Iran with nuclear weapons tied to terrorism could see one day a nuclear weapon in one of our cities that would make Iran a serious consideration, and I would say a serious threat," said Conway.

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