EghtesadOnline: Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for an attempted missile attack on Riyadh’s international airport, saying it could be considered an act of war.
The missile -- which was fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Saturday and intercepted by Saudi air defenses -- was a direct military aggression by Iran, according to a Saudi military coalition statement carried by state-run Saudi Press Agency early Monday. The kingdom has the right to defend its land and people, it said.
Iran provided Yemen’s Houthi militia with ballistic missiles, launchers, explosive-laden drones and sea mines, Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis, in Yemen, said earlier on state-run television. Iran denies arming the rebels with missiles.
“We have no possibility to transfer missiles to Yemen,” Revolutionary Guards commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. “These are their own missiles with improved range.”
According to Bloomberg, The missile launch has sharply escalated tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, rivals for regional hegemony that have been fighting a proxy war in Yemen since 2015. The new faceoff comes at a time of shifting U.S. policies in the region, with President Donald Trump broadly supportive of the Saudis and taking a hard line against Iran, which he’s qualified as a “rogue state.”
Trump told Saudi King Salman in a phone call on Saturday he would support the purchase of American military equipment to keep the kingdom safe, according to a readout from the White House. In comments on Monday to business leaders in Japan, the president praised the Saudi missile defenses, saying they “took the missile right out of the air. Blew it up.”
The Houthis said the missile launch was in reaction to Saudi-led bombings in Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians in the course of the war, the Associated Press reported. While the Houthis had previously fired missiles across the border, this one seems to have ventured farthest into Saudi territory and was aimed at a vital installation.
The Saudi-led coalition said it would temporarily close all Yemeni land, sea and air crossings to all but aid and rescue teams.