Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called for the international community to take a firm stance against Iran. The remarkable speech seeks to confront the Iranian regime’s threats to international peace and security, he said.
He also argued that appeasement would not work with Iran. Iranian media and officials slammed Riyadh’s comments.
What is driving the sudden decision for Saudi Arabia to speak up more strongly from the highest level about Iran’s threats, and what are Iran’s likely responses?
The speech was aimed at the United National General Assembly and comes in the wake of the UAE and Bahrain agreeing to normalization with Israel.
The decision by regional states to begin a new round of relations with Israel is seen as part of a wider regional strategic consensus that is linked to Riyadh’s own support for its allies working with Israel.
Saudi Arabia has been threatened by Iran for decades and Iran has increased its rhetoric against Saudi Arabia and Riyadh’s Gulf allies in recent years.
Iran regularly condemns these states, arguing they have betrayed the Palestinian cause and work with Israel and the US. Iran views the US as a great evil and has vowed to “resist” the US and Israel. This “resistance” takes the form of attacks across the Middle East.
Iran has threatened Riyadh in recent years by arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iran provides drone and ballistic missile technology.
Iran also used 25 drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia last September. That means that the king’s comments are basically a one-year anniversary of the attack on Abqaiq.
That attack was unprecedented and was an act of war. However, Saudi Arabia acted with restraint. Riyadh has acted with less restraint in Yemen, having intervened in 2015 in the conflict.
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