RIYADH: The United States called Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) for international action to hold Iran to account after Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of “direct military aggression” over a Yemeni rebel missile attack near Riyadh.
The Iran-backed Huthi rebels also threatened to attack ports and airports in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, escalating a crisis between Riyadh and Tehran.
Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince had accused Iran of supplying missiles to the Huthis, which he said “could be considered as an act of war.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif retorted that “the allegations by Saudi officials were contrary to reality”, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Tuesday that Iran had supplied a missile to the Huthis that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July, and referred to Riyadh’s claim that the weapon used on Saturday “may also be of Iranian origin.”
“By providing these types of weapons to the Huthi militias in Yemen, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is violating two UN resolutions simultaneously,” Haley said.
“We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations.”
Saudi Arabia and Iran back opposing sides in wars and power struggles from Yemen to Syria.
Soaring tensions between the key oil producers pushed crude closer to two-year highs on Tuesday and spooked Gulf markets.
Europe’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini warned the mounting tension was “extremely dangerous,” and urged Riyadh and Tehran to seek a “minimum of common ground” on which to build peace.
“I know that this is not the wind that is blowing as the majority voice in the world of today,” Mogherini told reporters at the EU mission in Washington.
“But allow me to bring a little bit of wisdom as the European voice in a world that seems to go completely crazy here: It’s dangerous.”
Saturday’s attack showed that despite a more than two-year Saudi-led bombing campaign and blockade, the Huthis retain missiles capable of striking targets deep inside the kingdom.
The rebels’ warned that they considered Saudi and UAE “airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance” as legitimate targets.
“We will not stand idly by—we will seek more radical means to prevent both the tightening of the blockade and all acts aimed at starving and humiliating the people of Yemen,” the Huthis’ political office said.