Saudi Arabia has called for emergency regional talks to discuss mounting Gulf tensions, saying Sunday that it does not want war with Iran but is ready to defend itself.
It comes days after mysterious sabotage attacks on several tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and drone strikes on a Saudi crude pipeline by Yemen rebels who Riyadh claimed were acting on Iranian orders.
The United States has also deployed an aircraft carrier and bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran. King Salman invited Gulf leaders and Arab League member states to two emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences”, the kingdom’s official SPA news agency reported late Saturday.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said Sunday his country does not want to go to war with Iran but would defend itself. Saudi Arabia “does not want a war, is not looking for it and will do everything to prevent it,” he said.
“But at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with strength and determination to defend itself and its interests.” The kingdom’s regional allies welcomed the Saudi invitation. The UAE’s foreign ministry said the current “critical circumstances” require a unified Arab and Gulf stance.
The meetings will be a “significant opportunity for the countries of the region to achieve their aspirations for establishing peace and stability,” it said. According to Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank, Riyadh wants to show that the region is behind it.
“The US maximum pressure campaign against Iran has little support among Western allies,” she told AFP.”Saudi Arabia is building, in its eyes, the strongest coalition of Arab and Muslim states that it has ever assembled to push back against its adversary, Iran.”