Revealed: How Iran supplies militant bomb factories in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain

Time: December 18, 2019

The scene of a bomb blast that killed a man in a Bahraini village in 2014. A new report shows the weapons have become increasingly sophisticated. (AFP/File photo)
  • Weapons-smuggling investigators find links in seized components
  • Tehran regime spreads explosives expertise into eastern part of Kingdom

LONDON: Bomb parts seized by security forces in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain match explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in Yemen, a new report reveals.

The electrical components for improvised explosive devices (IED) were also identical to those seized from a ship off the coast of Yemen in 2013, according to Conflict Armament Research (CAR), an organization that tracks smuggled weapons.

The cargo vessel was laden with missiles, rockets and ammunition when it was intercepted by US and Yemeni forces after leaving Iranian waters. UN experts said the regime in Tehran was behind the shipment.

The link raises concerns that Iran-backed militant groups have tried to spread bomb-making expertise into eastern Saudi Arabia from cells in Bahrain, CAR said.

CAR

@conflictarm

CAR has analysed IED components recovered in between 2013 and 2018. Our new report shows how some material is identical to items captured from Houthi forces in . https://www.conflictarm.com/reports/the-ied-threat-in-bahrain/ 

See CAR’s other Tweets

“There is some evidence to suggest that the increasing domestic capacity of militant factions to manufacture homemade explosives — and IED more broadly — may extend from Bahrain to nearby regions of Saudi Arabia,” it said.

CAR researchers studied IED parts captured from militant groups between 2013 and 2018 in Bahrain, where security forces have been targeted by insurgents.

They also recorded details from components seized in a raid in Awamiyah in eastern Saudi Arabia in April 2017, where militants clashed with security forces for several months.

Another seizure also took place on a bus on the King Fahd causeway that links Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

IEDs and plastic explosives recovered from militant cells in Bahrain in 2017 and 2018. (CAR)

Components from the seizures, including infrared sensors, and radio-controls “are identical or similar” to components documented in Yemen after their capture from Houthi forces and to those found on the cargo ship in 2013, the report said.

“The components either originated in Iran or are linked to Iranian-backed supply networks in the region.”

Iran supports and supplies the Houthis with weapons and has been accused of supporting militant Shiite cells in Bahrain. Arab countries blame Tehran for destabilizing the Middle East with its support of proxy forces, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and armed factions in Iraq.

In Bahrain, the level of sophistication for IED increased dramatically after 2013, when security forces started to intercept ships carrying readymade bomb components among supplies of conventional weapons. The bombs have killed at least 14 security force members and injured dozens in Bahrain since 2013. Before that, crude devices had been used amid protests and rioting in 2011.

Components for making bombs seized in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were studied by experts and found to match those supplied by Iran to Yemen.  (CAR)

The report found that the militants stored the explosive and non-explosive components at separate locations and delayed assembly until close to the time of use.

This “implies that militant factions use relatively sophisticated tactics, techniques, and procedures” and “centralize the construction of non-explosive components in preparation for onward distribution.”

Researchers also found information that usually helps identify components, such as circuit boards, had been systematically removed. The only other place they had seen this carried out to such an extent was in Yemen, among components seized from the Houthis.

“It’s striking that those involved in the supply chain chose to obliterate identifying information and serial numbers of RCIED circuit boards, at a rate much higher than found in CAR’s data set from investigations in Iraq and Syria,” CAR executive director James Bevan said. “It indicates a concerted effort among parties to the illicit supply chain to conceal the origins of materiel and prevent investigations like ours from tracing supply routes.”

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Iran’s child soldiers and the world’s silent complicity

17/12/19

A newly recruited teenage Houthi fighter takes part in a gathering in the capital Sanaa to mobilize more fighters to battlefronts to fight pro-government forces in several Yemeni cities, on February 2, 2017. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

After the victory of the so-called Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, the theocratic regime that seized power — usurping the rights of the Iranian people — adopted several sectarian strategies that reflected its extremist ideology.

The regime focused on brainwashing and adopted Orwellian indoctrination tactics to serve its new policies. These moved from theory to practice during the early post-revolutionary phase via educational curricula in schools and colleges, as well as revolutionary admonition assemblies, during which the Iranian people were castigated by regime clerics for any perceived deviation from the regime’s harsh ideological worldview. This totalitarian regime developed swiftly and the clerics soon felt the need to go beyond Iran to test the effectiveness of their policies regionally. The Iran-Iraq War provided an appropriate opportunity for this, and it also allowed the region to observe the reality of the new Iranian ideology and the regime’s policies.

One of the most prominent examples of how the regime used indoctrination during the Iran-Iraq War was its use of children as human shields or cannon fodder, with countless young boys from the ranks of the poor sent to the frontline to fight. Many were, infamously, used to run across minefields placed along the Iran-Iraq border so that Iranian troops would be able to cross safely after them. This was seen by the regime as a cost-effective way to minimize military casualties and damage to military equipment, while the children of the poor were viewed as expendable “collateral damage.” Before leaving for the battlefront, these children were each presented with a cheap key on a ribbon to hang around their necks, and were told it was the “key to paradise” that would allow them to enter heaven as glorious martyrs.

Despite the passing of decades, it is despicable that, even now, the regime in Tehran feels unashamed to admit perpetrating such horrific crimes against innocent children. It regularly and proudly airs footage on state TV and publishes photographs in its official newspapers showing child soldiers, who are lavished with praise for their “heroic” acts and “martyrdom” during the eight-year war with Iraq.

Apparently inspired by this criminal abuse of children, Hezbollah has followed in the Iranian regime’s footsteps, indoctrinating children with extremist ideology and training them from a young age to take up arms and fight in battles that serve the Iranian regime and its expansionist project across the Middle East. Anyone who has watched Hezbollah’s media propaganda will have observed children being indoctrinated and exploited.

This indoctrination has not been confined to Iran and Lebanon, but has also spilled over into other areas as the Iranian regime spreads its extremist ideology. This includes Yemen, where the Iranian-backed Houthis routinely use children — some of them shorter than the guns they carry — to fight in battles in Yemen itself and on the Saudi-Yemeni border. A UN report issued in 2015 suggested that more than 1,500 Yemeni children had been forcibly conscripted, while activists in the country assert that the real number is far higher.

With Iran’s regime we are dealing with an ideological project of infinite cruelty and depravity

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

As elsewhere, the horrific but undeniable reality of the Houthis’ use of child soldiers is well documented by video and TV footage and regular reports from the country. In a recent BBC Arabic documentary, a reporter approaches a massive military vehicle guarded by a child no older than 14 years of age (and possibly far younger), sitting in the back beside a mounted machine gun that dwarfs him. When the reporter asks the child why he is there, the boy replies: “I don’t know; they asked me to do so.” The reporter attempts to prompt the boy, asking him: “Are you here to defend your homeland?” The child hesitates, clearly not understanding the question, before mumbling, “Yes.” Children are also used to clean barracks and guard checkpoints, with the Houthis even attempting to defame the Arab coalition with the lie that it is responsible for these crimes.

Dozens of Houthi child soldiers have been captured by the forces of the legitimate Yemeni government during battles in Yemen or in fighting along the Saudi-Yemeni border. As in all cases of the use of child soldiers, this exploitation of children is purely the doing of those cruel enough to use them in such a cynical way.

As all these cases underline, with Iran’s regime we are dealing with an ideological project of infinite cruelty and depravity, which has no difficulty in sending children to die so long as this serves its objectives. All these factors show that the regime’s fate is a foregone conclusion. Anyone who can support such conscription and exploitation of children, whether through threats, rewards or punishments and usually a mixture of all three, does not fear punishment in this life or the next, and is wholly indifferent to all the international covenants and treaties that condemn such horrendous acts. Despite these facts, however, international bodies and human rights groups concerned with protecting children remain shamefully silent and passive on Iran’s criminal behavior.

The Iranian regime’s exploitation of children in Yemen and elsewhere needs to be exposed and this requires concerted action to bring such heinous practices to light. While international bodies remain silently complicit about this evil — contradicting their slogans about caring for and protecting children — it is essential to expose Iranian behavior before global public opinion in the admittedly slender hope that this might move the world’s conscience to reject complicity in such Iranian criminality and to bring those responsible to trial.

• Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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US, European, Asian chiefs of staff support Saudi Arabia’s right to self-defense

22/10/19

Representatives from more than 60 countries including Israel but not Iran met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security following attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations. (SPA)

Representatives from more than 60 countries including Israel but not Iran met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security following attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations. (SPA)

Following recent attacks against tankers in the Gulf, the United States formed a naval coalition to protect navigation in a region that is critical to global oil supplies
Tension between Tehran and Washington has grown since the United States abandoned a multinational deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year
JEDDAH: Saudi Military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fayyad bin Hamad Al-Ruwaili said the Kingdom’s armed forces are confronting all threats from Iran and its allies, adding that he is looking forward to producing a stance that stresses international support in protecting oil facilities and ensuring their protection from future attacks.
He pointed out that everyone should actively be involved in strengthening the capabilities to resist Iran’s threats and those of its allies.
Al-Ruwaili’s statement came during the Security and Defense Conference of the chiefs of staff of GCC states and other countries including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Britain, the US, France, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Greece.
The aim of the conference was to emphasize maritime and air protection, discuss Iranian hostilities and participate in the procurement of capabilities needed for the security of the region.
Highlighting the importance of the region, Al-Ruwaili said it contains about 30 percent of the world energy supplies and shipping lanes that constitue 20 percent of the global trade paths, which is equivalent to 4 percent of the world gross domestic product.
He said: “Today’s meeting aims to find appropriate ways for joint military cooperation to ensure the protection of vital and sensitive facilities, as the region continues to suffer from ongoing crises since the time the regime came to power following (1979) revolution in Iran, which aims to export the revolution to other countries, in contradiction with international conventions and treaties.”
He added that this has contributed to “spreading chaos by using religious sectarianism to serve political objectives, adopting and supporting loyal armed groups and forming parties and militias that contribute to destabilizing security and stability in several countries in the region.
The participants visited an exhibition, in which they were briefed on the unprecedented attack on vital facilities in the Kingdom as well as intercepted ballistic missiles, Iranian drones and photos of Iranian terrorist tools used to destabilize the region.
Participants issued a joint statement denouncing the attacks on the Kingdom, and expressing their determination to deter future attacks on vital facilities that are crucial for the global economy.
They also expressed their full support for Saudi Arabia’s efforts to deal with attacks, and affirmed its right and the right of its neighbors to self-defense in accordance with international law.
They also stressed the need to identify the best ways to support the Kingdom, deter threats against vital infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the safety of navigation in its waters, which will be discussed in the upcoming meeting on Nov. 4.

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Iran’s claims about Saudi messages are inaccurate says Al-Jubeir

Time: October 02, 2019  

Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom supports peace and stability in the region. (File/AFP)
  • Al-Jubeir said Iran needs to stop interfering in the internal issues of Arab states
  • Tensions between the two states rose after the Sep. 14 Aramco attacks

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.

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Protesters urge Trump to reject compromise with Iran Previous

Time: September 24, 2019  

  • Protesters began gathering near the UN headquarters in Manhattan last week and have maintained a daily vigil
  • They hope of reminding President Trump, American officials and UN delegates of Iran’s history of terrorism

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.

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UK, France, Germany blame Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities

24/09/19

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.

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Tehran seeks to ‘divide the world,’ says Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al-Jubeir

22/09/19

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.

(With agencies)

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Iranian regime’s threatening behavior will not be tolerated, Pompeo tweets after meeting with Saudi crown prince

Time: September 19, 2019  

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday described strikes on key Saudi oil installations as an “act of war” as he landed in Jeddah to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Reuters)
  • Pompeo described the drone and cruise missile strikes on Saturday as an ‘Iranian attack’
  • Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.

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.

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Condemnation of attacks on Saudi Aramco oil plants continue

17/09/19

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

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UAE says Khamenei meeting proves Houthis are Iran’s proxy

Time: August 15, 2019  

Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with Mohammed Abdul-Salam of the Houthi militants in Tehran on Tuesday. (AP)
  • State TV showed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praising the militants Tuesday, as he met a Houthi negotiator
  • ‘The Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology,’ said UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash

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.

 

د. أنور قرقاش

@AnwarGargash

Houthi relations with Iran, for long in search for proper designation, is clearer following their leadership’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei. Stated in black & white in their statement of fealty the Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology.

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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.

This article was first published in Arab News

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