DUBAI: Iranian claims Saudi Arabia sent its government messages is inaccurate, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir has said in a series of tweets.
“What happened was that friendly nations were seeking to calm the situation, and we told them the Kingdom is always seeking peace and stability in the region,” Jubeir said.
Al-Jubeir reiterated the Saudi stance towards Iran, urging the Islamic Republic to stop supporting terrorism and disruption through the interference in internal issues of Arab states, producing weapons of mass destruction and creating ballistic missile programs.
“Act like a normal country, and not like a rouge terrorism-supporting state,” he added.
Tensions between the two states increased after Saudi Arabia blamed Tehran for the Sep. 14 Aramco oil facilities attack, which was claimed by Houthi militia.
Iran denies the charges, although they support the Houthis in Yemen.
“The Kingdom has not and will not discuss Yemen with the Iranian regime,” Al-Jubeir said.
Yemen belongs to Yemenis, and the Iranian interference is the reason behind the war, he added.
NEW YORK: Thousands of members of a coalition of Iranian American organizations vowed to confront Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when he addresses the UN on Wednesday reminding the world of the more than 120,000 political dissidents and democracy advocates who have been murdered by Iran’s government over the past 40 years.
Protesters began gathering near the UN headquarters in Manhattan last week and have maintained a daily vigil. Their numbers will continue to grow, according to the Political Director for the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) which coordinates anti-regime activism in the US.
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour said the world community “should not be fooled” by false gestures of goodwill from Iran’s representatives. “No amount of economic and political concessions can moderate the behavior of this medieval regime. The mullahs understand only the language of power and firmness. Maximum pressure must be applied to help the Iranian people free themselves from the yoke of the mullahs,” he added.
“We began protesting last week in anticipation of the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session and the appearance of Iran’s officials, and we will continue protesting until the Iranian regime is held responsible for its ongoing atrocities against the people of Iran,” Sadeghpour said.
“We will be here in numbers when officials of the Iranian regime are expected to address the UN on Wednesday.”
Sadeghpour said protesters have maintained daily vigils since last week in the hope of reminding President Trump, American officials and UN delegates of Iran’s history of terrorism and brutality against its people.
He said Trump and the UN must “reject the false pretenses of moderation” by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his representatives.
Trump had originally taken a strong public stand against Iran, accusing them of engaging in terrorism and violence, and then seemed to soften two weeks ago when he said he would meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani if he came to the opening session of the UN General Assembly’s 74th year.
But a week ago, after a coordinated drone and cruise missile attack targeted Saudi Aramco oil fields along the Yemen coast, Trump said America’s military was “locked and loaded,” suggesting America was ready to go to war with Iran. Trump said he would move to block Rouhani and his regime from attending the UN meeting in New York, but later relented.
The assault by the 25 drones and multiple missiles took early on Saturday, Sept. 14. During a press briefing this week in Riyadh, coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the assaults forced Saudi Arabia to shut down half of its oil production.
Saudi officials, including Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeebah, the head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, have said the sophisticated, technologically coordinated attacks in Abqaiq and Khurais were “too complex” to be orchestrated only by the Houthi militias.
“Iran is behind many attacks against the region. The UN should take action. There should be a resolution against Iran. The involvement of the UN delivers a message,” Al-Rabeeah said on Wednesday during a press briefing to outline Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian efforts in Yemen where Iran-backed Houthi militias have targeted civilians, aid workers and coalition forces.
Calling Rouhani a “murderous moderate,” Sadeghpour said Rouhani and other Iranian regime officials should be held accountable for the killings of the more than 120,000 Iranian civilians, including 30,000 murdered during a nationwide purge in 1988.
Nine years after taking control of Iran from the former leader, the Shah of Iran, the Iranian regime under the direction of Ayatollah Khomeini, ordered a purge of dissidents demanding democracy. The crackdown began on July 19, 1988, and continued throughout the country for nearly five months. Because so many people were taken prisoner, Iran used construction cranes to hang the victims at half-hour intervals.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has addressed protests against the Iranian regime in the past, is expected to join former Senator Joseph Lieberman in speaking to the protesters at the anti-regime rallies.
Leaders all on Tehran to agree to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs and regional security issues
US official says Washington seeks negotiations with Tehran that include missile program and terror support
UNITED NATIONS: Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Fallout from the Sept. 14 attacks is still reverberating as world leaders gather for their annual meeting at the UN General Assembly and international experts investigate, at Saudi Arabia’s request, what happened and who was responsible.
The leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany released a statement reaffirming their support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the US exited, but telling Iran to stop breaching it and saying “there is no other plausible explanation” than that “Iran bears responsibility for this attack.”
They pledged to try to ease tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to “refrain from choosing provocation and escalation.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Sunday while flying to New York that the UK would consider taking part in a US-led military effort to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defenses after the drone and cruise missile attacks on the world’s largest oil processor and an oil field.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denied any part in the attacks. He said Monday that Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility, “have every reason to retaliate” for the Saudi-led coalition’s aerial attacks on their country.
“If Iran were behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery,” he boasted.
He also stressed on the eve of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the United Nations in New York City that “it would be stupid for Iran to engage in such activity.”
Zarif called it an attack “with high precision, low impact” and no casualties. Facilities hit in the refinery would take the Saudis a year to repair, he said. “Why did they hit the lowest impact places?” Zarif asked, saying if Iran was responsible, the refinery would have been destroyed.
France has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to US-Iranian tensions, which soared after the Saudi attacks.
French President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference at the UN that he planned to meet separately with both Trump and Rouhani over the next day and would work to foster “the conditions for discussion” and not escalation.
Macron called the Sept. 14 strikes “a game-changer, clearly” but reiterated France’s willingness to mediate.
Zarif, however, ruled out any Iran-US meeting. He said Iran had received no request from the US, “and we have made clear that a request alone will not do the job.”
He said Trump “closed the door to negotiations” with the latest US sanctions, which labeled the country’s central bank a “global terrorist” institution — a designation the Iranian minister said the US president and his successors may not be able to change.
“I know that President Trump did not want to do that. I know he must have been misinformed,” Zarif said in a meeting with UN correspondents.
Zarif said he plans to meet Wednesday with ministers of all five countries remaining in the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew, including Russia and China.
Johnson, the UK prime minister, said Britain still backs the existing nuclear agreement and wants Iran to stick to its terms but urged Trump to strike a new deal with Iran.
“Whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal,” he said.
Asked about Johnson’s suggestion, Trump said he respects the British leader and believes the current agreement expires too soon.
The joint UK, France, Germany statement urges Iran to reverse its rollback on key provisions in the 2015 nuclear deal and calls for a new agreement.
“The time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery,” the three countries said.
Shortly before leaving for the UN meetings Monday, Iran’s Rouhani said on state television that his country will invite Arabian Gulf nations to join an Iranian-led coalition “to guarantee the region’s security.”
Rouhani said the plan also encompasses economic cooperation and an initiative for “long term” peace. He planned on presenting details while at the United Nations.
Zarif said the new Hormuz Peace Initiative — with the acronym HOPE — would be formed under a UN umbrella with two underlying principles: nonaggression and noninterference. He said it would require a major shift from countries “buying” security from other nations or mercenaries and instead promote the notion that “you can gain security relying on your own people and working with your neighbors.”
Johnson said he would meet Rouhani at this week’s UN gathering. He said he wanted Britain to be “a bridge between our European friends and the Americans when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf.”
Johnson stressed the need for a diplomatic response to the Gulf tensions but said Britain would consider any request for military help.
The Trump administration announced Friday that it would send additional US troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as part of a “defensive” deployment. Officials said the number of troops was likely to be in the hundreds.
“We will be following that very closely,” Johnson said. “And clearly if we are asked, either by the Saudis or by the Americans, to have a role, then we will consider in what way we could be useful.”
A UK official told The Associated Press that a claim of responsibility for the attacks by Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen was “implausible.” He said remnants of Iran-made cruise missiles were found at the attack site, and “the sophistication points very, very firmly to Iranian involvement.”
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence findings, did not say whether Britain believed the attack was launched from Iranian soil. Iran denies responsibility and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an “all-out war.”
Meanwhile Monday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei suggested the release of a British-flagged oil tanker held by Tehran since July would be imminent, though he doesn’t know when it will leave.
The Stena Impero has not turned on its satellite-tracking beacon in 58 days and there has not been any sign that it has left its position near Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the vessel after authorities in Gibraltar seized an Iranian crude oil tanker. That ship has since left Gibraltar, leading to hopes the Stena Impero would be released.
Saudi-led investigations so far show that Iranian weapons were used, attack came from the north
Kingdom consulting with allies to “take necessary steps”
RIYADH: Attacks last week on Saudi oil facilities were “an attack against all mankind” and Iran was trying to divide the world, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs said on Saturday.
Al-Jubeir said the attacks were undertaken with Iranian weapons and it was for this reason that Iran should be held accountable for the incident, adding: “We are certain that the attacks did not come from Yemen but from the north. Investigations will prove that.”
“The Iranian position is to try to divide the world and in that it is not succeeding, he said.
In a press conference held in the Saudi capital, Al-Jubeir also said that the attacks on Aramco facilities were also targeting global energy security and that Saudi Arabia would take appropriate steps to respond if investigations confirm that Iran is responsible.
“The Kingdom will take the appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation, to ensure its security and stability,” Al-Jubeir said.
“Saudi Arabia has taken a defensive stance, as opposed to Iran which has fired 260 Iranian-made ballistic missiles through its militias, and more than 150 drones.
The Kingdom, unlike Iran, has not fired a missile, a drone or a bullet toward Iran. This demonstrates that we seek good while they seek evil.
Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs
“The Kingdom, unlike Iran, has not fired a missile, a drone or a bullet toward Iran. This demonstrates that we seek good while they seek evil,” he said.
Saudi Arabia has rejected claims from Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis that they carried out the strikes, the largest-ever assault on Saudi oil facilities in the world’s top oil exporter. Tehran has denied any involvement in the attacks.
Saudi Arabia is consulting with its allies to “take the necessary steps”, Al-Jubeir said, urging the international community to take a stand.
“The Kingdom calls upon the international community to assume its responsibility in condemning those that stand behind this act, and to take a firm and clear position against this reckless behavior that threatens the global economy,” he said.
More than 80 countries have condemned the attacks, he said.
The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Saturday any country that attacked Iran would become a battlefield, after the US ordered reinforcements to the Gulf following last week’s attacks.
Washington approved the deployment to Saudi Arabia at “the Kingdom’s request,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, and the forces would be focused on air and missile defense. IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami said: “Whoever wants their land to become the main battlefield, go ahead. We will never allow any war to encroach upon Iran’s territory.”
The US this week imposed more sanctions on Iran and approved the sending of American troops to the region.
JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said Iranian strikes on key Saudi oil installations will not go unpunished as he reaffirmed his country’s support for Saudi Arabia in a meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The U.S. stands with #SaudiArabia and supports its right to defend itself. The Iranian regime’s threatening behavior will not be tolerated,” Pompeo tweeted after the meeting in Jeddah.
Pompeo stressed during the meeting that the US supports the steps taken by the Saudi Arabia for international experts to investigate the source of the attacks on Saudi Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais on Sept. 14, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Houthi militias in Yemen had initially claimed responsibility for the drone and cruise missile strikes, but Pompeo said it was an “Iranian attack”.
He said the strikes had not come from the Iran-backed Houthi militants and that there was no evidence the attacks had been launched from Iraq.
“This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” he added.
For his part, the Crown Prince stressed during the meeting that these attacks were aimed at destabilizing the region’s security and damaging global energy supplies and economy.
The meeting was attended by Prince Khalid bin Salman, Deputy Minister of Defense, and Dr. Musaed AlAiban, State Minister and Member of Council of Ministers, as well as the US Ambassador in Riyadh John Abizaid.
Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.
Pompeo’s visit comes as President Donald Trump said on Wednesday there were many options short of war with Iran after Saudi Arabia’s display of remnants of drones and missiles it said were used in the I that was “unquestionably sponsored” by Tehran.
“There are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options that are a lot less than that. And we’ll see,” Trump told reporters in Los Angeles. “I’m saying the ultimate option meaning go in — war.”
Trump, who earlier said on Twitter that he had ordered the US Treasury to “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran, told reporters the unspecified, punitive economic measures would be unveiled within 48 hours.
Trump’s tweet followed repeated US assertions that the Islamic Republic was behind Saturday’s attack on Aramco facilities and came hours after Saudi Arabia said the strike was a “test of global will.”
Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had spoken with US President Donald Trump about the Aramco attack, and agreed that Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Also on Wednesday, Kuwait’s army released a statement announcing it was raising its preparedness level for some units, given the tensions in the Middle East region.
Bahraini King calls Saudi leadership
RIYADH: Condemnations of Saturday’s attack on Saudi Aramco oil installations continued on Monday, as the US pointed out Iran as the likely culprit behind the drone strikes that have dramatically escalated tensions in the region and triggered a record leap in global oil prices.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both received calls from the King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain to condemn the attacks at Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called the crown prince, who is also the defense minister, to affirm his country’s full support for the Kingdom.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “We will work with international partners to forge the widest and most effective response,” with a statement from his ministry saying the “UK remains committed to supporting the security of Saudi Arabia.”
India also slammed the attacks and reiterated the country’s “rejection of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Official Spokesperson of the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that the Secretary General condemns Saturday’s attacks on two Aramco oil plants.
The German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, “Such an attack on civilian and vital infrastructure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not justified”.
— with SPA
LONDON: A meeting between a Houthi official and Iran’s Supreme Leader proves “in black and white” that the Yemeni militants are an Iranian proxy, a senior Emirati said Wednesday.
State TV showed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praising the militants Tuesday, as he met the Houthi negotiator, Mohammed Abdul-Salam. Iran has long been accused of supporting the group, which sparked the war in 2014 when they seized the capital Sanaa.
Houthi relations with Iran are “clearer following their leadership’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei,” the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter. The relationship was “stated in black and white in their statement of fealty,” he added. “The Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology.”
Iran’s support for the Houthis and supply of weapons is regarded as one of the key reasons the war in Yemen has lasted so long. An Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, is supporting troops loyal to the internationally recognized government against the Houthis.
The meeting in Tehran is the first time Khamenei has held talks with a senior Houthi representative, Reuters reported.
“I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen’s believing men and women … Yemen’s people… will establish a strong government,” Khamenei said.
Yemen’s government and the Arab coalition accuse the Houthis of collapsing previous UN-sponsored talks to find a political settlement to the conflict.
Saudi Arabia and its allies say Iran’s support of proxy militias in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and groups in Iraq, is the main cause of instability in the region.
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed maritime security, Iran and Yemen with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a phone call on Wednesday.
“The secretary discussed heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
Iran has seized three tanker ships in strategic Gulf waters in less than a month, and the United States has accused it of carrying out multiple attacks on ships in the region.
The US has been struggling to piece together an international coalition to protect cargo ships traveling through the Gulf, with allies concerned about being dragged into conflict with Iran.
Ortagus also said that the top US diplomat and the crown prince “discussed other bilateral and regional developments, including countering the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities.”
JEDDAH: A surgical team at Makkah’s King Abdullah Medical City (KAMC) has successfully removed a tumor from a 58-year-old Iranian pilgrim.
The tumor was discovered in the pilgrim’s pituitary gland. It was severely affecting his sight and required urgent surgery. It was performed by surgical teams from the neurology department and the otorhinolaryngology department, the Ministry of Health reported.
The patient was received at King Faisal Hospital, where he underwent a series of medical tests to identify the type of tumor he had and to measure his hormone levels.
The results confirmed the presence of visual impairment in both eyes, a damaged third cerebral nerve and a damaged sixth cerebral nerve in both eyes.
“During the surgery, the tumor was completely removed without complications” the ministry said. “The patient recovered and his eyesight improved with partial improvement in the nerves’ condition. He will be transferred from the intensive care unit to a room after his condition becomes stable.”
The pilgrim, Mehdi Mueen, spoke to Al-Ekhbariya News after the successful operation.
“I had a headache and could not open my left eye,” he said. “Thank God I feel better now.”
Only three days have passed since Mueen’s condition was identified as critical by doctors and he was operated on.
Dr. Sultan Al-Seiari, neurosurgery consultant at King Abdullah Medical City, carried out the surgery with a team of specialists.
He said that the pituitary tumor was a bleeding type of growth that had affected the man’s sight and caused visual impairment.
“The case was accepted expeditiously, and within two to three hours the patient was in intensive neurological care,” he told Al-Ekhbariya News.
“The surgery was performed immediately, and the tumor was removed almost completely.”
A doctor with the Iranian Hajj campaign, Dr. Kamal Nazer, said that the patient’s family was worried and had discussed with the doctors if the surgery could be postponed until Mueen was back in Iran. “We reassured his family and wife, and they accepted making the operation in Makkah, thankfully,” he said.
The Saudi government has provided many services to pilgrims to facilitate their pilgrimage.
It has equipped the hospitals of Makkah and the holy sites with highly qualified medical and technical personnel.
The Ministry of Health is providing all medical services and improving existing ones in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision.
KAMC’s neurosciences center carries out numerous qualitative and specialized rare operations, similar to those performed around the world, with a high success rate.
It is capable of dealing with the most complex and difficult cases during the Hajj season.