By Arab News
By Malek Awny
Arab states stood united on Sunday against Iranian aggression in the region, and Saudi Arabia warned that it would not stand idly by in the face of threats to its national security.
“We are obliged today to take a serious and honest stand … to counter these belligerent policies so that we can protect our security,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.
The ministers expressed their full solidarity with Saudi Arabia and support for any measures it may take to counter Iranian threats, warned Iran to stop interfering in the internal affairs of their countries and end its support for Hezbollah and Houthi militias, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Iranian aggression.
Saudi Arabia asked for Tuesday’s meeting, with the support of the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, after the launch on Nov. 4 of an Iranian-supplied missile aimed at Riyadh from Houthi militia-held territory in Yemen. Al-Jubeir said Iran continued to threaten the security of Arab states, violating all international principles.
Iranian missiles did not respect sacred Muslim sites in Makkah, he said, and the missile that targeted Riyadh reflected Iranian aggression against the Kingdom and illustrated the “grave dangers in the region due to Iranian interference.”
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the missile that targeted Riyadh was “an Iranian message of aggression which is unacceptable in form and substance.”
He said: “The Iranian missile program poses a dangerous threat to the region and its security. Iranian threats have crossed a line, and they are pushing the region to the brink. Iran is adopting a sectarian strategy to fuel regional conflicts and is seeking to make Yemen a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.”
The secretary-general urged Tehran to “review its policies toward the region and stop its interference.”
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said Lebanon was under the “total control” of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement. “Iran’s biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hezbollah arm,” Sheikh Khalid said, and there was dangerous Iranian escalation in the region.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not attend Sunday’s meeting. He was replaced by Lebanon’s delegate to the Arab League, Antoine Azzam. Lebanese sources said there was intense pressure on the League to avoid explicit references to Hezbollah in statements after the meeting, but the efforts failed. Bassil is the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michele Aoun, who is an ally of Hezbollah.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who is known for his support of Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah, was also absent from the meeting; the Undersecretary at Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nizar Khair Allah, attended instead.
Diplomatic sources said the General Secretariat of the Arab League has prepared a dossier of violations, interference and provocative statements by Iran and its officials, along with memorandums from member states, mainly Saudi Arabia, detailing Iranian interference targeting regional stability.
Arab affairs expert Dr. Moutaz Salama, of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Sunday’s meeting was part of a long-term Saudi strategy which will develop gradually to contain Iran’s destructive role in the region. Rallying Arab diplomatic efforts against Iranian interference was an essential step to move the issue on to the international stage, he said.
Arab diplomatic sources said that there was an agreement between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain to confront Iranian regional aggression decisively.