MESOP NEWS “EXTRAORDINARY MEETING”: Arab League Condemns Tehran’s “Aggression”

Foreign Ministers of Arab League states in Cairo, November 19, 2017 – Amid a surge in regional tension, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Arab League has condemned Tehran’s “aggression” during an extraordinary meeting in Cairo. The Saudis requested Sunday’s session over “the violations committed by Iran in the Arab region, which undermines security and peace … around the globe”. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the meeting that his country “will not stand by and will not hesitate to defend its security” in the face of Iran;s actions: “Any leniency in dealing with their policies would only encourage them more, so we must stand together.”

Arab diplomats said a Saudi draft resolution is proposing a declaration of solidarity with Riyadh and Arab support for the kingdom’s next steps. It warns Iran against continuing its policies in the region and orders Arab diplomats to request a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the Islamic Republic’s “threats”.

Escalation and Possible Confrontation

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were cut in January 2016 after Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric and a crowd attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Amid Saudi intervention in the Yemeni civil war and with the two countries backing opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, tension rose this spring as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — the rising force in the kingdom — said any war would be fought inside Iran’s borders.

Two weeks ago, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in an announcement made from Riyadh. Iran said the Saudis had detained Hariri — who finally travelled to France on Saturday — while Saudi Arabia said Iran and its ally Hezbollah, part of the Lebanese governing coalition, were committing “acts of war”.

The Saudis also said Iran was behind the firing of a missile by Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthi) insurgents on Riyadh International Airport.

On Sunday, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, a close ally of Riyadh, d Al-Khalifa said Hezbollah was “in total control” of Lebanon.

“Iran’s biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist [Hizballah] arm,” Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa charged.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Arab nations would raise the matter with international organizations, including the UN Security Council: “Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded from Turkey, where he was meeting Russian and Turkish counterparts about the Syria conflict, “Unfortunately countries like the Saudi regime are pursuing divisions and creating differences and because of this they don’t see any results other than divisions.”