King Salman Urges Firm Stand to Deter Iran
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told an emergency Arab summit on Friday that decisive action was needed to stop Iranian “escalations” following attacks on Gulf oil assets, as US officials said a military deployment had deterred Tehran.
The right of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to defend their interests after the attacks on oil pumping stations in the kingdom and tankers off the UAE was supported in a Gulf Arab statement and a separate communique issued after the wider summit.
“The absence of a firm deterrent stance against Iranian behavior is what led to the escalation we see today,” King Salman told the two consecutive meetings late on Thursday.
The ruler of the world’s top crude exporter said Iran’s development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its threats on world oil supplies posed a risk to regional and global security.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that attacks on four vessels near a major bunkering hub, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, were “efforts by Iranians to raise the price of crude oil around the world.”
Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering the drone strikes. The attacks were claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthi group which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen for four years.
US national security adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that evidence of Iran being behind the tanker attacks would be presented to the UN Security Council as early as next week.
“The kingdom is keen to preserve the stability and security of the region, to spare it the scourge of war and to realize peace and stability,” King Salman said.
Tensions have risen between the United States and Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump a year ago withdrew Washington from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, re-imposed sanctions and boosted its military presence in the Gulf.
Bolton has said that Iranian mines were “almost certainly” used in the tanker attacks. An Iranian official dismissed that as “a ludicrous claim.”
US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on Thursday that a repositioning of US military assets in the region had deterred Iran, but that the United States would respond with military force if its interests are targeted.
The United States has deployed 900 additional troops to the region and extended the stay of 600 other service members, after speeding up deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and sending bombers and additional Patriot missiles.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the summit it was time to renew discussions on joint Arab defense mechanisms.
The United States and the UAE, which hosts a US air base, on Wednesday activated a defense cooperation agreement signed earlier this year.