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Saudi Arabia ups ante in regional row, saying Hezbollah launched Yemen missile

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir wants a broad "cross-section" of Syrian opposition groups to attend the forthcoming coalition talks
Carlo Allegri (Pool/AFP)
Saudi Arabia also accuses Iran of funneling weapons and cash to Houthi rebels in Yemen

Saudi Arabia dramatically upped tensions on the Arabian peninsula on Monday after foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir accused Lebanese militia Hezbollah of firing a missile from neighboring Yemen, which intercepted over the capital Riyadh on Saturday. 

"It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah, from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen," Al-Juberi told CNN in an interview on Monday. He further accused "operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah" of reconstructing the ballistic rocket after it had been smuggled into war-ravaged Yemen by Iran. 

The added accusations came after the kingdom had earlier on Monday laid the blame for the missile at the feet of arch-enemy Iran -- the chief backer of Hezbollah -- and said it could consider it an "act of war". 

"Iran can not lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps," Al-Juberi said in the interview, adding that "this is a very, very hostile act".

He added that "we have been extending our hand to Iran since 1979 in friendship, and what we get back is death and destruction."

Last month Saudi Arabia's powerful new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said that he wanted to do away with his country's ultra-strict interpretation of Islam, which he said was copied from Iran, where an rigidly Islamic government overthrew a Western-backed dictatorship in 1979.

Bin Salman has been the driving force behind a 2015 Saudi-led intervention in Yemen to prop-up the collapsing government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, but the campaign has sunk into a quagmire and pushed the already-impoverished state into humanitarian catastrophe. 

Riyadh has announced a total blockade of Yemen's land, sea and air borders in response to the missile, plunging international aid efforts into doubt and thwarting the arrival of United Nations aid flights. 

Following the Saudi apportioning of blame on Monday, Iran dismissed the claims as "irresponsible and provocative" and said Houthi rebels fired it in retaliation for Saudi "war crimes" in the country.

An Iranian foreign ministry statement quoted its spokesman Bahram Ghassemi as saying the accusations by the Saudi-led coalition were "unjust, irresponsible, destructive and provocative".

Trading accusations

Twitter

Before appearing on the American news network, Al-Jubeir had already issued a slew of tweets attacking Shiite powerhouse Iran. 

Al-Jubeir warned that the kingdom would not tolerate "any infringement" on its national security from Iran. 

"Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighboring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement on our national security," Jubeir tweeted.

But the Iranian spokesman Ghassemi said the missile was fired by the Houthis in response "to war crimes and several years of aggression by the Saudis".

The missile attack, the foreign ministry spokesman said, was "an independent action in response to this aggression," and Iran had nothing to do with it.

He also called on Riyadh to halt its "empty accusations" and its attacks on "defenseless and innocent people as soon as possible and to pave the way for inter-Yemeni dialogue to bring peace to the country".

The rhetorical flare-up comes after Saudi Arabia helped tip Lebanon into a fresh political crisis after the country's prime minister, Saad Hariri, abruptly resigned while on an official visit in Riyadh.

The move was widely seen as a Saudi attempt to impose its influence on the country, where Iran is a powerful player through its proxy, Hezbollah, which is believed to have an enormous arsenal of weapons stockpiled in preparation for a future with Israel. 

(Staff with AFP)

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BHO gave a lot of mullahs for Iran terrorist activities. Now they use it like liberals.

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