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Saudis, Iran Trade Barbs After Huthi Ballistic-Missile Launch

RFE/RL November 06, 2017

Saudi Arabia and Iran have exchanged accusations over the launch of a ballistic missile by Shi'ite Huthi rebels from Yemen toward the Saudi capital, with Riyadh saying the attack could be considered an "act of war" and Tehran accusing its Middle Eastern rival of war crimes.

A Saudi-led military coalition closed off land, sea, and air access to Yemen on November 6 after the ballistic missile targeted Riyadh two days earlier. It said the temporary closings would "take into account" the work of humanitarian groups.

The diplomatic barbs come amid simmering tensions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is predominantly Shi'ite. The two sides are on opposite sides of several disputes across the Middle East.

"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," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir tweeted.

The Saudi-led coalition earlier said that "Iran's role and its direct command of its Huthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally."

"Therefore, the coalition's command considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the statement said.

The Saudis said they shot down the missile before it hit its target.

Iran countered the Saudi accusations by saying rebels fired the missile in retaliation for Saudi "war crimes" and that the accusations by the coalition were "unjust, irresponsible, destructive, and provocative."

An Iranian Foreign Ministry statement quoted spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying on November 6 that the missile attack was "an independent action in response to this aggression" and that Iran had nothing to do with it.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal, and Sudan have supplied assets to the alliance led by Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally.

The coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Huthis after the rebels overran Yemen's capital, Sanaa, the previous year and forced the Saudi-backed government to flee into exile.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Iran of supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/saudi-arabia-iran- yemen-houthi-missile/28837200.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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