Saudi Arabia calls for firm stand to deter Iran, Iraq demurs

Arab emergency summit rejects Iranian threats

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 U.S. 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 were supported in a Gulf Arab statement and a separate communique issued after the wider summit.

Tehran denies any involvement in the attacks and in a sign of regional tensions, Iraq, which has good ties with neighboring Iran and Washington, said it objected to the Arab communique, which stated that any cooperation with Tehran should be based on “non-interference in other countries”.

“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 Shi’ite Iran’s development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its threats on world oil supplies posed a risk to regional and global security.

U.S. 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.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that evidence of Iran being behind the tanker attacks would be presented to the U.N. 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.

Iran, which is locked in several proxy wars with Saudi Arabia in the region, rejected what it called “baseless” accusations made at the summit, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

“We see the Saudi effort to mobilize (regional) opinion as part of the hopeless process followed by America and the Zionist regime (Israel) against Iran,” IRNA quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.