Saudi Arabia charged Monday that Iran had committed “a blatant act of military aggression” by providing its Yemeni allies with a missile fired at the Saudi capital over the weekend, raising the threat of a direct military clash between the two regional heavyweights.
The accusations represent a new peak in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran at a time when they are already fighting proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as battles for political power in Iraq and Lebanon.
The Saudi statement said the missile could be considered an “act of war” against the kingdom and triggered its right to self-defense under international law.
It claimed that the rocket, which was fired from Yemen and intercepted en route to Riyadh, the capital, had originated in Iran. The Saudis said that “experts in military technology” had examined the debris of the missile, as well as one launched in July, and “confirmed the role of Iran’s regime in manufacturing these missiles and smuggling them to the Houthi militias in Yemen for the purpose of attacking the kingdom.”
American officials have previously accused Iran of arming its Yemeni allies, the Houthis. But Saudi Arabia’s claims could not be independently verified.
Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United States and the United Arab Emirates, have enforced a sea and air blockade around Yemen since the outbreak of the current war there, so it was also unclear how Iran could have provided large weapons like ballistic missiles.
The top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran called the accusation “baseless.”
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SOURCE: NY Times, David D. Kirkpatrick