On Tuesday Iran slammed Saudi and US claims that it was supplying Yemen's Houthi rebels with advanced ballistic missiles that Saudi Arabia says targeted Riyadh international airport on Saturday - which would be a violation of a UN resolution which ensures conformity to the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran's state-run IRNA news cited a letter sent to the UN Security Council signed by Iranian ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, saying that Iran “categorically” rejects Saudi Arabia’s “baseless and unfounded accusations and considers it as destructive, provocative and a ‘threat to use of force”’ against a UN member state in defiance of the UN charter. Iran's foreign minister further called the Saudi claims "contrary to reality and dangerous".
Iran's state-run PressTV file photo purporting to show a missile being fired from the direction of Yemen toward Saudi Arabia earlier during the conflict.
Though Saudi Arabia has mounted an aggressive aerial bombing campaign of deeply impoverished and disease-ridden Yemen for over the past two years, killing and wounding tens of thousands of civilians, it is Iran that is coming under intense pressure this week. Yesterday Saudi Arabia charged its regional rival Iran with "an act of war" while stating through its military coalition executing Yemen operations that, “Iran’s role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally.”
However, the Iranian ambassador's letter to the UN responded directly to the charges with, “Such provocative statements by the Saudis are nothing but an attempt to shift the blame and to distract attention from its war of aggression against Yemen.” Other Iranian officials, according to various reports, called the Saudi claims "fake news".
Saudi Arabia has cast itself as the victim of external Iranian and pro-Shia plotting after its internal weekend of chaos which included a missile attack from Yemen, the deaths of two princes and other high officials within a mere 24 hours, and an aggressive crackdown against dissent in the royal family which saw close to a dozen princes placed under house arrest. While lashing out at Iran's supposed campaign of destabilization in Yemen and in the region, it appears that the Saudis are set to step up proxy skirmishes with Iran across the Middle East, possibly with the support of regional allies.
Predictably, the US immediately backed Saudi claims of direct Iranian involvement in the Yemeni conflict while citing no specific evidence. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley pointed to a prior missile fired in July which she said was an Iranian Qiam, and likened the previous attack with Saturday's missile launch, saying it "may also be of Iranian origin," and added that the ballistic missiles were not "a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict."
Haley further claimed that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had violated UN resolutions on Yemen and Iran, and said, "We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations."
Why don't these congresspeople want to talk about the war in Yemen? pic.twitter.com/ghp82AtnMS— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 4, 2017
Above: Why is Yemen ignored in US politics? The US itself has been an integral part of the coalition (also including Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Sudan, and with the UK as a huge supplier of weapons) fighting Shia Houthi rebels, which overran Yemen’s north in 2014. Saudi airstrikes on the impoverished country, which have killed many thousands of civilians and displaced tens of thousands, have involved the assistance of US intelligence and use of American military hardware.
Regardless of the degree to which Iran may or may not be involved in advising and assisting Houthi rebels, it is astounding that in the rare moments that US officials actually make reference to the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, it is nebulous "Iranian agents" that are blamed even while American and British bombs are dropped from Saudi-piloted jets on a civilian population.
Saudi Arabia has in recent years managed to use the UN to protect and enhance its image when it comes to questions of both domestic human rights abuses and rampant war crimes in Yemen. Absurdly, the autocratic country which has Wahhabi Islam for its official state religion continues to serve its 3-year term on the UN Human Rights Council.
But it appears that for now that the Saudi "but Iran did it" line is enough to satisfy Nikki Haley and the US administration.