Regional Rivals Saudi Arabia, Iran Trade Accusations Amid Ongoing Tensions

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has accused regional rival Iran of meddling in other countries’ affairs, as he addressed a regional summit in Riyadh.

“Extremist and terrorist powers continue to threaten our security in the Gulf and in the Arab world,” the king told the summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on December 9.

“The Iranian regime is continuing its hostile policies and continues to intervene in other nations’ internal affairs, he added.

The Saudi king also spoke about the ongoing war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting Iranian-backed Huthi militants.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded swiftly, tweeting that the “region has had far too many strongmen who have only caused war & misery.”

The GCC, which consists of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, was formed in 1981 in part to offer a counterbalance to Iran.

The members states are all American allies.

The ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, skipped the summit in Riyadh amid high tensions with other member states.

He had been invited to the summit by King Salman.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt in June 2017 broke diplomatic and economic links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist activity in the region, a charge the Qataris denied.

The Saudi-led coalition also expressed concerns that Qatar was increasing its ties with Shi’a-led Iran, which competes with mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia for influence in the Middle East.

The United States, which has a military base in Qatar and close ties with the other coalition nations, has unsuccessfully tried to resolve the conflict.

Washington relies on the Arab nations to help counter what it calls Iran’s malign behavior.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.