Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

Saudi Arabia ‘has questions to answer’ on Hariri, says Iran ambassador

November 23, 2017

AFP

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© FRANCE 24 | Iran’s ambassador to France, Abolghassem Delfi.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-11-23

Saudi Arabia has “questions to answer” over the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the subsequent rise in regional tensions, Iran’s ambassador to France, Abolghassem Delfi, told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday.

Hariri’s shock resignation on November 4 during a last-minute trip to Saudi Arabia led to speculation the Gulf kingdom had orchestrated the move as part of a power play against regional rival for influence Iran. Hariri cited the influence of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanese politics as one of the reasons he was stepping down.

That Hariri remained in Saudi Arabia until last weekend led to accusations he was being detained there against his will. He has, however, now returned to Lebanon and put his resignation on hold.

According to Delfi, the episode is the latest of a long line of destabilising actions in the region by Saudi Arabia.

“Tension in the region started rising a few years ago first with Syria then Yemen and more recently Qatar and now Lebanon,” he said, suggesting “Saudi domestic motives” were to blame.

He added: “It’s for Saudi Arabia to answer the question why have they acted in this way, why are they acting in a detrimental way to security and calm.”

Watch the full interview by clicking on the video player above.

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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition to reopen Hodeidah port, Sanaa airport for aid

November 22, 2017

File: A cargo ship moored at Yemen’s rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida. (AFP)
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DUBAI: The Saudi-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Wednesday it would allow aid access through the port of Hodeidah and UN flights to Sanaa airport.
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The coalition closed all air, land and sea access to Yemen earlier this month following the interception of a missile fired toward the Saudi capital.
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It said it had to stem the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran, seen by Riyadh as the movement’s main backers.
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“The port of Hodeidah will be reopened to receive food aid and humanitarian relief, and Sanaa airport will be open for UN flights with humanitarian relief,” a statement from carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA said.
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It added the decision would take effect from Nov. 23.
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The coalition allowed the resumption of international commercial flights and opened Aden port last week, but it said the main aid route into the country (Hodeidah) would stay closed until it was satisfied its Houthi opponents could not use it to bring in weapons.
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The Houthis, drawn mainly from Yemen’s Zaidi minority and allied to long-serving former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, control much of the country including the capital Sanaa.
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Saudi Arabia and its allies have been waging war against them on behalf of the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, based in Aden.
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman — Reckless or Genius?

November 22, 2017

BY IAN MAY/THE MEDIA LINE
 NOVEMBER 22, 2017 09:47

 

“Lots of Israelis see Mohammad bin Salman’s assertiveness favorably and as a positive thing. But I think this conduct is reckless.”

Secret ties? A guide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (photo credit:AUDI PRESS AGENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Reports circulating that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz plans to abdicate as early as this week and crown his son, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), have left many wondering how the young prince managed to ascend to power so quickly.

So who is this young heir to the Saudi throne?

At 32, MBS—nicknamed Mr. Everything—is known as a reformist and holds a long line of titles including, Crown Prince, Minister of Defense, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council for Political and Security Affairs and Chairman of the Council for Economic Affairs and Development. He recently was named the head of an anti-corruption body that has overseen the arrest of hundreds of royals and businessmen amid a crackdown in the country that many perceive as a move to consolidate power ahead of his prospective rulership.

In this respect, MBS has been quietly orchestrating the appointments of a range of young princes to positions of power. They are all either the grandsons or great-grandsons of the kingdom’s founder, Ibn Saud.

In 2008, bin Salman married Princess Sarah bint Mashhoor bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and together they had three children.

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After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University, MBS spent several years in the private sector before becoming the personal aide of his father in 2009.

In 2015, King Salman named his nephew, Muhammad bin Nayef, as Crown Prince; however, just two years later Salman cast him aside in favor of MBS.

Reshaping Saudi Arabia

Bin Salman has made clear that he is determined to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s image by vowing to introduce a more “moderate” form of Islam and by transforming the hardline kingdom into an open society with greater freedoms for its citizens and that attracts more investment.

In April 2016, MBS introduced Vision 2030, an initiative meant to reform the kingdom, privatize the economy and to make it less reliant on oil. Riyadh is also working on a $500 billion plan to create a large business and industrial zone extending into Jordan and Egypt.

Fighting for control in Yemen and Lebanon

Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a major confrontation with Iran and tensions continue to play out in proxy wars and corresponding diplomatic battles for political influence in the region, especially in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and, most recently, with the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Lebanon.

Among the chief changes MBS is bringing to the kingdom is a more aggressive foreign policy toward Tehran, which may even reportedly include enlisting Israel’s help in defeating Hezbollah. The Iranian-backed Shiite group, which is at the center of the current Lebanese crisis, remains enmeshed in the Syrian conflict in support of President Bashar al-Assad and also has fighters in both Yemen and Iraq.

Dr. Yoel Guzanski from Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies poured cold water on the idea of a budding Israeli-Saudi friendship. “There is a lot of exaggeration here,” he asserted to The Media Line. “Lots of Israelis see MBS’ assertiveness favorably and as a positive thing. But I think this conduct is reckless and is already hurting American and possibly Israel’s interests in the region.

“Israeli and Saudi interests do not overlap entirely regarding Iran and Lebanon,” he continued, “as both countries have very different views regarding the method to deal with these threats.”

MBS is currently leading Operation Decisive Storm, a controversial Sunni coalition against the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthis, who toppled Yemen’s internationally recognized government in 2015. The devastation has left over eighty percent of the population in need of humanitarian aid and MBS has come under fire for mismanaging the conflict.

Dr. Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at Kings College London and a Middle East security analyst, slammed MBS as an “authoritarian autocrat who seems to disregard any form of consensual governance even within the family.” Krieg also criticized the Saudi crown prince’s policies. “MBS has so far failed on every front in foreign and security policy. Mostly because he lacks a strategy. He is hotheaded, paranoid and lacks any strategic patience,” he wrote in an email to The Media Line.

MBS has also been criticized for his handling of the Hariri resignation and now appears to be backpedaling from challenging Iran in order to avoid a major regional conflict.

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Israel Stand With Saudi Arabia On Intensifying the Struggle Against Iran

November 20, 2017

Israel is happy to let Riyadh lead the anti-Iranian alliance, but not so happy to pay the political price of real cooperation

By Zvi Bar’el

Opinion

Haaretz
Nov 20, 2017 8:09 AM

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Credit Fayez Nureldine/ AFP

Israel has no better ally than Saudi Arabia. It fights Hezbollah and overthrew the Lebanese prime minister who had lived in peace with that organization for a year. There is no other country in the world, including the United States, that acts with such resolve against Iran. Saudi Arabia even went to war in Yemen, not for the Yemenis, who as far as Riyadh is concerned could die of starvation, but to block Iran’s influence.

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Saudi Arabia has warned Hamas against renewing its ties with Tehran and is pressing Washington to come out of its coma and act against the Iranian threat. It seems as if Saudi Arabia would be happy to have Israel join the “Sunni axis.” Good for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who dared to get rid of several ministers in his battle against corruption and isn’t afraid to confront the Saudi religious oligarchy.

Saudi Arabia is the dream of the Jewish state. Its behavior toward Iran makes mincemeat out of the axiom behind Israel’s security strategy, namely that all Arab states seek to destroy it, but in return Saudi Arabia reinforces Iran’s status as the ultimate enemy.

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One might expect that such an alliance with an Arab power that sees eye-to-eye with Israel regarding its greatest enemy would demand some serious consideration of Saudi interests in the Israeli-Palestinian arena; for example, to revive the Saudi peace initiative, which calls for Arab normalization with Israel in return for withdrawing from the territories. No harm would be done if Israel made a gesture toward the kingdom and offered to begin negotiating with the Palestinians on the basis of that initiative, and even invite Riyadh to mediate.

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It wouldn’t be unreasonable to try to form an Arab coalition made up of Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for this purpose. After all, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never fails to boast of the quality of the relations that he (of course, he) has managed to develop with Arab countries, even those that have no peace treaty with Israel. The alliance with Egypt is working well along the southern border and there is quiet and excellent cooperation with Jordan, while the UAE has recently become a silent partner. On the face of it, there could be no better combination of forces for the State of Israel.

The problem is that even an alliance of interests with Saudi Arabia has a fatal flaw. It requires that Israel pay too heavy a political price. Israel believes it is permitted to cooperate with Arab states against common enemies, but not in return for a chance at real peace. The enormous security and economic benefits that would derive from a diplomatic process that has the participation of anti-Iranian Arab states is apparently worthless in Israeli eyes. It prefers to pay the economic and security costs of taking care of half a million settlers, not to mention the collapse of Israeli democracy. An alliance with Saudi Arabia or other Arab states?

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Only if it’s free.

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And thus, while Israel cheers when a ballistic missile is fired from Yemen on the Saudi capital, and celebrates the resignation/removal of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, because it sees both as incentives for intensifying the struggle against Iran, it prickles like a porcupine when anyone mentions the Saudi peace initiative. Israel is assuming that the common enemy will make the kingdom and other Arab countries forget that abomination called the peace process.

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In the seven years that have passed since the Arab Spring and the three years since the Islamic State seized control of lands in Syria and Iraq, Middle Eastern alliances and coalitions have been shifting like the colors in a kaleidoscope. Those who know how to exploit opportunities, like Russia, Iran and Turkey, will gain diplomatic capital. Such an opportunity now lies before Israel. But Israel has learned the Palestinian lesson well; it never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

By Zvi Bar’el
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.822797

Saudi Arabia seeks to ratchet up pressure against Iran

November 20, 2017

Arab foreign ministers have slammed Iranian interference in the Middle East. Arab states sought to present a united front as regional rivalries in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon heat up.

Saudi Arabia flag (Imago/imagebroker)

Saudi Arabia and Arab allies on Sunday condemned Iranian interference across the region, singling out Tehran’s support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The extraordinary meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo comes as tensions between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran heats up, including over Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

Arab diplomats drafted a resolution warning Iran against maintaining its current policy and pushed for a UN Security Council meeting in order to discuss “threats” posed by Iran.

“We are not declaring war on Iran at this stage,” Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said. “We have not taken a decision to ask the Security Council to meet, but we are just briefing the council and maybe the next stage would be for us to meet and call for a Security Council meeting and submit a draft Arab resolution (against Iran).”

Saudi Arabia called the meeting as part of its latest effort to ratchet up pressure against its Shiite rival after Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh’s international airport earlier in the month.

Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran for helping the Houthis with developing ballistic missiles.

The Arab League resolution condemned the incident, saying it was a “blatant aggression against the kingdom and a threat to Arab national security.”

Tehran denies arming the Houthis and insists that the rebels produced the missile themselves.

Targeting Hezbollah

In addition to the attempted missile strike, which was repelled by Riyadh’s anti-missile defense system, the draft resolution notes the alleged bombing of an oil pipeline in Bahrain as another example of Iranian efforts to undermine regional security.

But some of the sharpest Arab League criticism was directed at Iran’s support for its ally Hezbollah.

Lebanon was thrust into political uncertainty after the surpise resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri this month after he leveled sharp criticism at Iran and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is a key member of Lebanon’s coalition government and ally of President Michel Aoun.

Read more: Lebanon: Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry finds a new battlefront 

Hezbollah has alongside Iran backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebels backed by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia also accuses Hezbollah of supporting Houthi rebels and playing a role in this month’s ballistic missile launch.

The Arab League declaration accused Hezbollah of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”

But highlighting tensions over Lebanon, Lebanese diplomats reportedly objected to Hezbollah being labeled as a terrorist organization.

 Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, beard, laptop, closeup and indoor
 Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presides over a meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs in Riyadh

The proxy wars

Since 2015, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been fighting to defend Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Despite the coalition’s military efforts, however, the Houthis maintain control of much of the country’s north, including the capital, Sanaa. The intervention has killed nearly 10,000 people and created the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, with nearly 7 million people facing famine.

The two regional powers — Saudi Arabia and Iran — have made Syria another battleground in their proxy war.

Riyadh has been backing rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad, while Iran has supported Assad’s regime. They have provided Damascus with billions of dollars’ worth of economic and military aid since the country was plunged into civil war in 2011.

Further afield, Iran has been backing militias in Iraq fighting alongside Baghad’s army against the “Islamic State” group.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched a comprehensive economic boycott against their Gulf Arab neighbor Qatar in June because of its alleged close ties to Iran and support for extremist groups.

cw, bik/se (AP, Reuters, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/saudi-arabia-seeks-to-ratchet-up-pressure-against-iran/a-41443390

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Arab states stand united against ‘unacceptable Iranian aggression’

November 20, 2017

Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir leads Saudi Arabia’s delegation at the Arab League’s extraordinary general meeting in Cairo on Sunday. (SPA)

CAIRO: Arab states stood united on Sunday against Iranian aggression in the region, and Saudi Arabia warned that it would not stand idly by in the face of threats to its national security.

“We are obliged today to take a serious and honest stand … to counter these belligerent policies so that we can protect our security,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

The ministers expressed their full solidarity with Saudi Arabia and support for any measures it may take to counter Iranian threats, warned Iran to stop interfering in the internal affairs of their countries and end its support for Hezbollah and Houthi militias, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Iranian aggression.

Saudi Arabia asked for Tuesday’s meeting, with the support of the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, after the launch on Nov. 4 of an Iranian-supplied missile aimed at Riyadh from Houthi militia-held territory in Yemen. Al-Jubeir said Iran continued to threaten the security of Arab states, violating all international principles.

Iranian missiles did not respect sacred Muslim sites in Makkah, he said, and the missile that targeted Riyadh reflected Iranian aggression against the Kingdom and illustrated the “grave dangers in the region due to Iranian interference.”

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the missile that targeted Riyadh was “an Iranian message of aggression which is unacceptable in form and substance.”

He said: “The Iranian missile program poses a dangerous threat to the region and its security. Iranian threats have crossed a line, and they are pushing the region to the brink. Iran is adopting a sectarian strategy to fuel regional conflicts and is seeking to make Yemen a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.”

The secretary-general urged Tehran to “review its policies toward the region and stop its interference.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said Lebanon was under the “total control” of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement. “Iran’s biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hezbollah arm,” Sheikh Khalid said, and there was dangerous Iranian escalation in the region.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not attend Sunday’s meeting. He was replaced by Lebanon’s delegate to the Arab League, Antoine Azzam. Lebanese sources said there was intense pressure on the League to avoid explicit references to Hezbollah in statements after the meeting, but the efforts failed. Bassil is the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michele Aoun, who is an ally of Hezbollah.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who is known for his support of Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah, was also absent from the meeting; the Undersecretary at Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nizar Khair Allah, attended instead.Diplomatic sources said the General Secretariat of the Arab League has prepared a dossier of violations, interference and provocative statements by Iran and its officials, along with memorandums from member states, mainly Saudi Arabia, detailing Iranian interference targeting regional stability.

Arab affairs expert Dr. Moutaz Salama, of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Sunday’s meeting was part of a long-term Saudi strategy which will develop gradually to contain Iran’s destructive role in the region. Rallying Arab diplomatic efforts against Iranian interference was an essential step to move the issue on to the international stage, he said.

Arab diplomatic sources said that there was an agreement between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain to confront Iranian regional aggression decisively.

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Lebanon under ‘total control’ of Hezbollah: Bahrain FM

November 19, 2017

AFP

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© AFP | Bahrain Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa an Arab League meeting called by Riyadh
CAIRO (AFP) – Bahrain’s foreign minister said Sunday that Lebanon is under the “total control” of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, in a speech at an Arab League meeting called by Riyadh.”The Lebanese Republic, in spite of our relations with it as a brotherly Arab nation… is under the total control of this terrorist party,” said Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, referring to the powerful Shiite movement.

“Iran’s biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hezbollah arm,” Sheikh Khalid charged.

He called on countries such as Lebanon “where Hezbollah is a partner in government to carry their responsibility”.

Saudi Arabia called the meeting of foreign ministers at the League’s headquarters in Cairo to discuss “violations” committed by Iran after a missile was intercepted near Riyadh in a November 4 attack claimed by Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies in Cairo talks on Iran, Hezbollah

November 19, 2017

By Patrick Markey

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss ways to confront Iran and its Lebanese Shi‘ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs.

Regional tensions have risen in recent weeks between Sunni monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite Islamist Iran over Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s surprise resignation and after an escalation in Yemen’s conflict.

Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally, resigned on Nov. 4 in an announcement made from Riyadh. Hariri cited fear of assassination and accused Iran and Hezbollah of spreading strife in the Arab world.

Hezbollah, both a military force and a political movement, is part of a Lebanese government made up of rival factions, and an ally of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Aoun has accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage. Senior Lebanese politicians close to Hariri also said he was coerced into resigning. Saudi Arabia and Hariri both deny those accusations.

“What Iran is doing against some Arab countries calls for taking more than one measure to stop these violations, interferences and threats, which are carried out through many various means,” Hossam Zaki, Arab League Assistant Secretary, told Asharq al Awsat newspaper in an interview.

“Stopping them requires a joint Arab policy.”

He said the meeting would send a “strong message” for Iran to step back from its current policies.

Egypt’s state-owned newspaper Al Ahram cited an Arab diplomatic source saying the meeting may refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting Iranian intervention, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters last week the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were only a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran.

“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,” Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iranian state media Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting in Antalya with his Russian and Turkish counterparts about the Syria conflict.

Lebanon’s state-run NNA media said the country’s the foreign minister would not attend the Cairo meeting. Lebanon will be represented by its representative to the Arab League, Antoine Azzam, it said.

After French intervention, Hariri flew to France and met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.

Speaking in Paris, Hariri said he would clarify his position when he returns to Beirut in the coming days. He said he would take part in Lebanese independence day celebrations, which are scheduled for Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia also accuses Hezbollah of a role in the launching of a missile at Riyadh from Yemen this month. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Iran’s supply of rockets to Houthi militias was an act of “direct military aggression”.

Yemen’s civil war pits the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, against the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran denies charges it supplies Houthi forces.

Additional reporting by Arwa Gaballa in Cairo; Sarah Dadouch and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut; Editing by Mark Potter

Lebanon FM to skip Arab League summit on Iran

November 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil will not attend an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo called by Saudi Arabia

BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon’s foreign minister will not attend an extraordinary Arab League meeting on Sunday called by Saudi Arabia to discuss “violations” committed by Iran, a ministry source told AFP.Arab foreign ministers will gather in Cairo on Sunday at the request of Riyadh, whose simmering regional rivalry with Tehran has escalated in recent weeks.

But Lebanon’s top diplomat Gebran Bassil will not be among them, a foreign ministry source said.

“This morning, a decision was taken that Lebanon would be presented by Antoine Azzam, the permanent representative to the Arab League,” the source said.

“Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil will not be present.”

For more than a decade, Lebanon’s political class has been largely split between Iran-backed movement Hezbollah and its allies, and a Saudi-supported coalition led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Hariri stepped down from his post on November 4 in a televised address from Riyadh, sparking fears Lebanon would be caught up in the spiralling tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.

Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shiite power, are long-standing rivals based as much in geostrategic interests as religious differences.

According to a memo seen last week by AFP, the Saudi request for an Arab League meeting was based on a missile it says its air defences intercepted near Riyadh after being fired from Yemen on November 4.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen, and it has accused the Iran-backed rebels of firing the missile.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later accused Iran of “direct military aggression” against the kingdom by supplying the rebels with ballistic missiles.

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Saudi Arabia and Arab Allies Call Emergency Meeting in Cairo on Sunday To Discuss Iran, Hezbollah

November 19, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor

Iran — A Revolutionary Guard missile, the Shahab-3, under a picture of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. Credit Hasan Sarbakhshian, AP
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BY REUTERS
 NOVEMBER 19, 2017 10:23

 

Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss confronting Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah.

A Houthi militant shouts slogans as he stands next a poster of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

A Houthi militant shouts slogans as he stands next a poster of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a rally against US support to Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa. (photo credit:REUTERS)

CAIRO, November 19 – Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss confronting Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs.

Regional tensions have risen between Sunni monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Islamist Iran over Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s surprise resignation and after an escalation in Yemen’s conflict.

Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally, resigned on Nov. 4 in an announcement made from Riyadh. Hariri cited fear of assassination and accused Iran and Hezbollah of spreading strife in the Arab world.

Hezbollah, both a military force and a political movement, is part of a Lebanese government made up of rival factions, and an ally of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Aoun has accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage. Senior Lebanese politicians close to Hariri also said he was coerced into resigning. Saudi Arabia and Hariri both deny those accusations.

The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting Iranian intervention, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters last week the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were only a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran.

“What Iran is doing against some Arab countries calls for taking more than one measure to stop these violations, interferences and threats, which are carried out through many various means,” Hossam Zaki, Arab League Assistant Secretary, told Asharq al Awsat newspaper in an interview.

“Stopping them requires a joint Arab policy.”

He said the meeting would send a “strong message” for Iran to step back from its current policies.

Egypt’s state-owned newspaper Al Ahram cited an Arab diplomatic source saying the meeting may refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

Saudi Arabia accuses Hezbollah of a role in the launching of a missile at Riyadh from Yemen this month. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Iran’s supply of rockets to Houthi militias was an act of “direct military aggression”.

Yemen’s civil war pits the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, against the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran denies charges it supplies Houthi forces.

Anticipating confrontation at the Cairo meeting, Lebanon’s foreign minister may not attend, though a final decision will be taken on Sunday morning, a senior Lebanese official told Reuters on Saturday.

After French intervention, Hariri flew to France and met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.

Speaking in Paris, Hariri said he would clarify his position when he returns to Beirut in the coming days. He said he would take part in Lebanese independence day celebrations, which are scheduled for Wednesday.