Saudi Arabia severs Iran ties

Updated 05 January 2016
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Saudi Arabia severs Iran ties

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday officially severed ties with Iran over the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, following the execution of Saudi Shiite radical Nimr Al-Nimr.

Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told a news conference Iran’s diplomatic mission and related entities in Saudi Arabia had been given 48 hours to leave. He said Riyadh would not allow Tehran to undermine the Kingdom’s security.

He added that all Saudi diplomats and staff have arrived in the UAE from Iran and are on their way to the Kingdom. He called Tehran a regional menace for its smuggling of arms and explosives and its previous harboring of Al-Qaeda militants.

In Tehran, angry crowds hurled Molotov cocktails and stormed the Embassy. Fires were seen burning inside the building. He said the aggressive statements of the Iranian regime encouraged the attacks on Saudi missions, adding that Iran has a history of supporting terrorism, citing its support to the bloody regime of Bashar Assad.

Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom rejects all criticism of the Saudi justice system. He called on the international community to review Iranian intransigence, stressing that “all options are open for us to deter Iran.”

He added that each Gulf country will decide what measures to be taken to contain Iran. In response to a reporter’s question Al-Jubeir said the Iranian government is involved in the attacks on the Saudi Embassy, adding that Iranian security were present at the scene yet they never attempted to drive out the protesters.

“In Iraq, we have received assurances from the Iraqi government that it will ensure the safety of our embassy and our diplomats in Baghdad,” Al-Jubeir said. Earlier, a ministry spokesman accused Iran of sponsoring terror and undermining regional stability.

“The Iranian regime is the last regime in the world that could accuse others of supporting terrorism, considering that (Iran) is a state that sponsors terror, and is condemned by the UN and many countries,” he said in a statement to SPA.

“Iran’s regime has no shame as it rants on human rights matters, even after it executed hundreds of Iranians last year without a clear legal basis,” said the statement.

“Iran’s criticism of the execution of terrorists and its hostile statements are blatant interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs,” said the statement.

Iran has offered “many Al-Qaeda leaderships safe haven since 2001” in addition to “offering an Iranian passport” to a Saudi suspect involved in 1996 bombings in the Kingdom who was arrested last year, the ministry said.

It criticized Iran’s “flagrant interference in regional countries, including Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, as well as Syria where it has directly intervened through its Revolutionary Guard and Shiite militia” causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians.

Al-Jubeir postponed his visit to Pakistan Sunday and preferred to stay back to assess the situation and answer those who are siding with terrorists.

A statement to Arab News by the Pakistani side said Al-Jubeir, who was due in Islamabad for talks with top-ranking Pakistani officials on Sunday, will now visit Pakistan on Jan. 7.


Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 40 min 25 sec ago
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Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.