The US accused Iran of supplying Yemen’s Houthi militias with advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles used to attack Makkah and Riyadh, echoing allegations made by Saudi Arabia.
A White House statement condemned Iran’s actions and pledged US support to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners against Tehran’s “blatant” violations of international law.
“Houthi missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, enabled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threaten regional security,” the White House said. “These missile systems were not present in Yemen before the conflict, and we call upon the UN to conduct a thorough examination of evidence that the Iranian regime is perpetuating the war in Yemen to advance its regional ambitions.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday the missile attack on Riyadh on Saturday was a “direct military aggression by the Iranian regime.”
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saudi Arabia would “achieve nothing by threatening the might of Iran.”
James F. Jeffrey, former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “It is symptomatic of what we have seen for 35 years: Iran expands and threatens and strikes via surrogates and refuses to admit responsibility.”
Countries affected by Iran’s policies over the years have had difficulty deterring Tehran from its destabilizing policies, Jeffrey said. “Until countries are willing to hit Iranian interests directly and bear the risks, this will just continue. US and Saudis should warn Iran: Another such attack and they will jointly strike a target in Iran. Nothing else will cause Iran to pause.”
Ellen Laipson, a Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus of the Stimson Center in Washington, told Arab News: “Neither Tehran nor Riyadh appears ready to back down or find a path to a compromise and negotiated settlement of the crisis, and Iran would not necessarily be at the negotiating table. The stakes are higher for Saudi Arabia than for Iran, which sees Yemen as a target of opportunity rather than a vital national interest.”
Reports that Saudi Arabia had prevented the internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from returning to Yemen were “lies,” the president’s office said on Wednesday.
The reports were part of a “systematic campaign targeting Saudi Arabia, which leads a battle to stop Iranian interference in Yemen and the region,” a spokesman said.