Arab League to Meet on Iran at Saudi Request

The Arab League headquarters in CairoThe Arab League headquarters in Cairo

The Arab League will hold an extraordinary meeting next Sunday at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss alleged "violations" committed by Iran in the region, according to a memorandum.

Bahrain and the UAE supported the Saudi request, which was also approved by Djibouti, the current chair of the pan-Arab bloc, said the document shown to AFP by diplomats on Sunday.

Tensions have been rising between regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran, including over league members Qatar and Lebanon.

Facing off across the Persian Gulf, the two energy-rich powers have stood on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East.

According to the memo, the Saudi request for an Arab League meeting was based on a missile the kingdom says its air defenses intercepted near Riyadh after being fired from Yemen on Nov. 4.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Houthis in Yemen and it has accused the Iran-backed fighters of firing the missile.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later accused Iran of "direct military aggression" against the kingdom by supplying the fighters with ballistic missiles.

But Iran denied any involvement in the missile attack, with President Hassan Rouhani warning that the Islamic Republic's "might" would fend off any challenge.

According to the memo, Saudi Arabia also decried what it described as "sabotage" and "terrorism" over a pipeline fire in Bahrain on Friday that temporarily halted oil supplies from its territory.

Bahrain's foreign minister blamed Iran for the fire.

"The attempt to blow up the Saudi-Bahraini pipeline is a dangerous escalation on Iran's part that aims to terrorize citizens and to harm the world oil industry," Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa contended in a post on Twitter.

Tehran rejected any involvement in the incident, calling the allegation "childish".

In its request for the meeting of Arab foreign ministers, Saudi Arabia referred to those two incidents "in addition to the violations committed by Iran in the Arab region, which undermines security and peace, not only in the Arab region, but around the globe."

The Arab League is a regional organization of 22 Arab countries in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is the leading force in the organization that voiced support in 2015 for the Saudi military intervention in Yemen against the Houthis and forces loyal to former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Saudis are waging the war to reinstate the fugitive president Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi.

Following their dispute with Qatar since June 5, the Saudis have led a group of acolytes, including Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, in accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and imposing a blockade.

Riyadh was also the venue of last weekend's resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in a televised address.

In his broadcast, Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of destabilizing the broader region, saying he feared for his life.


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