US calls for pressure on Iran over Yemen
Saudi soldier watches the Yemen border on October 3, 2017, in the southern province of Jizan
The United States on Tuesday urged the international community to hold Iran to account after Saudi Arabia accused its regional rival of “direct military aggression”.
Saudi charges were launched following Saturday’s shooting of a missile at Ryad International Airport by Houthi rebels in Yemen, accused of being militarily supported by Tehran’s denial.
The rebels, for their part, threatened to make all the important Saudi infrastructure potential targets, exacerbating tensions between the two regional powers, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.
The Houthis claimed that their threat was a response to the hardening of the blockade against their country by a Saudi-led Arab military coalition that is operating against them in neighboring Saudi Arabia’s Yemen. This hardening was decreed after the interception of the ballistic missile.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused “Iran of involvement in supplying missiles to (Houthis)”, which constitutes “direct military aggression” against his country.
“It could be considered an act of war,” he said.
Iran, which denied any connection with the missile strike, said the Saudi Crown Prince’s charge was “contrary to reality”.
But US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, echoed the Saudi ally in accusing Iran of supplying missiles to the Houthis in violation of UN resolutions.
According to her, a missile fired by the rebels in Saudi territory in July had been provided by Iran and that used on Saturday on Ryad “was perhaps also of Iranian origin”.
In a statement, Haley “encouraged” the UN “to take the necessary steps to hold the Iranian regime responsible for these violations.”
– ‘Vital installations’ –
Map of the Middle East showing Saudi Arabia’s allies against Iran and the areas of influence of the two rivals
Yemeni rebels, stemming from a branch of Shi’ism, claim to be developing their missiles themselves, and have threatened to fire on “ports, airports, border posts and vital installations” in Saudi Arabia and other countries. United Arab Emirates, another member of the Arab coalition.
“We will not sit back and explore more important and far-reaching options to prevent the blockade from being reinforced against the Yemeni people and (measures) aimed at starving and humiliating them,” they said.
This conflict has caused more than 8,650 deaths since 2015, including many civilians and caused “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” according to the UN.
“Any further limitation on food and fuel imports could reverse recent successes in reducing the threat of famine in Yemen,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned on Tuesday. seven million people had already received food aid this year in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and Iran had already exchanged violent accusations about Yemen on Monday.
The interception over Ryad airport of the ballistic missile had indeed highlighted the risks for civil air traffic in Saudi Arabia: debris had fallen in the perimeter of the airport.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), often critical of the Saudi intervention in Yemen, nevertheless considered the shooting as an “apparent war crime” of the rebels.
– ‘Completely crazy’ –
The head of European Union diplomacy Federica Mogherini warned that tensions between Ryad and Tehran could “have extremely dangerous repercussions”. “Let me breathe some European wisdom into a world that seems to be completely crazy: it’s dangerous,” she said.
These tensions coincide with an unprecedented purge on Saturday in Saudi Arabia against princes, ministers, former officials and businessmen accused of corruption.
They pushed oil prices to their highest level in two years, and the Gulf stock markets were hit on Tuesday.
The purge was launched by a 32-year-old anti-corruption commission headed by the crown prince.
Before the US ambassador to the UN, President Donald Trump had given strong support to the Saudi authorities.
“I have full confidence in King Salman and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they do,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday. “Some of those they treat hard + bleed + their country for years!”
Photo of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on 24 October 2017 at a conference in Riyadh
This purge shows a profound upheaval in Saudi Arabia that breaks with the generally respected consensus within the royal family to manage the affairs of the kingdom.
At the same time, it aims to strengthen the power of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is engaged in a vast program of economic reforms and who seems to continue his march towards the throne, currently occupied by his father Salman, soon to be 82 years old.
burs-oh-ac / mh / bpe / tp