King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Friday urged leaders at an emergency Arab summit in Mecca to stop Iranian “escalations” in the region. Iran called the allegations baseless and said that Saudi Arabia had joined forces with the United States to “mobilise [regional] opinion” against the country, Al Jazeera reported.
The monarch made the comments after attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates led to a spike in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. “The absence of a firm deterrent stance against Iranian behaviour is what led to the escalation we see today,” Salman said at two consecutive meetings that started late on Thursday and continued till Friday.
The Saudi king also called on the international community for “using all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, harbouring global and regional terrorist entities and threatening international waterways”, according to AP. He further said that Saudi Arabia is willing to protect the region from war and that its “hand remains extended for peace”.
The third and final summit to be held on Friday is likely to focus on Palestinian statehood and independence. Leaders of the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation are expected to participate in the final summit.
Tensions have also been escalating between Tehran and Washington over the past few weeks. Earlier this month, the United States sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to West Asia.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that four vessels were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, which were “efforts by Iranians to raise the price of crude oil around the world”, Reuters reported. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that evidence of Iran’s involvement in the attacks on the oil tankers would be given to the United Nations Security Council next week.
Saudi Arabia, which is an ally of the United States, also faced drone attacks from Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. One of these attacks led to a temporary shutdown of a major oil pipeline, according to AFP.