Saudi king blames Iran for ‘chaos’, calls for global response

Saudi king says missile and drone attacks it blames on Tehran failed to halt his kingdom’s development.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud struck a defiant note against the kingdom’s enemies, saying missile and drone attacks it blames on Iran failed to halt economic development and he reiterated that Riyadh will not hesitate to defend itself.

In an annual address to the appointed Shura Council on Wednesday, King Salman, in an eight-minute speech, said that the international community must stop Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its regional intervention.

The king said it was time to stop the “chaos and destruction” generated by Iran.

“Though the kingdom has been subjected to attacks by 286 ballistic missiles and 289 drones, in a way that has not been seen in any other country, that has not affected the kingdom’s development process or the lives of its citizens and residents,” he told council members, royals and foreign diplomats.

“We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realises there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practises without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people.”

King Salman also said the oil policy of the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, is aimed at promoting market stability.

He praised the ability of state oil giant Saudi Aramco to quickly restore oil production capacity after attacks on its facilities in September, which initially cut more than five percent of global supply.

The king said Aramco’s response had proven the kingdom’s ability to meet global demand in any shortage and praised the company’s initial public offering, which began this week, saying it would attract foreign investment and create thousands of jobs.

Battle for influence

Sunni-Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia-Muslim Iran are locked in a decades-long struggle for influence across the region, supporting opposing sides in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

Tensions have risen since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of an historic nuclear deal with Iran and world powers last year and reimposed punishing economic sanctions on Tehran.

Washington and Riyadh blame Iran for the September attacks and earlier ones against oil tankers in Gulf waters and other Saudi oil installations. Tehran denies any involvement.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthis in a nearly five-year war that has killed tens of thousands, King Salman said the kingdom seeks a political settlement.

He said he hoped a recent agreement signed in Riyadh between two coalition-backed parties that had fallen out would open the door to broader peace talks.

Palestine

While reiterating long-standing support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the king did not refer to a US decision this week in effect to back Israel’s building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Neither did he speak about a two-and-a-half-year boycott of neighbouring Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states amid recent speculation about a potential easing of that policy.

King Salman said Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the Group of 20 countries, which begins next month, was evidence of the important role the kingdom plays in the global economy.

SOURCE: REUTERS NEWS AGENCY

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