Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia had the right to defend itself against Iran and would take “appropriate” actions to counter Iranian aggression against the Kingdom, according to an interview the foreign minister gave to CNN.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia said it intercepted a missile shot from Yemen that nearly reached Riyadh’s international airport. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for firing the projectile, which was intercepted by Saudi defense forces before it hit the ground.
The Houthis said the missile attack was “conducted using a Yemeni-made, long-range missile called the Burqan 2H,” according to CNN which cited comments from Houthi officials. But Saudi authorities say they have concrete evidence that the missile was made in Iran and provided to the Houthis.
“We have the missile. The aluminum came from Iran. The guidance systems are from Iran. The cables [inside the missile] have Iranian letters on them. The suicide boats that the Houthis are using in Yemen are Iranian. The computers have Iranian letters on their keyboards…There is no doubt” about the origin of the missiles, Al-Jubeir said.
“Iran can not lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps,” he added, citing article 51 of the UN Charter, which states that a nation or group of nations can defend itself if an armed attack occurs.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also minister of defense, reiterated that Iran supplying rebels in Yemen with missiles was a “direct military aggression by the Iranian regime.”
The ongoing crisis and civil war in Yemen has been a continued threat to Saudi Arabia’s borders and towns in the south of the Kingdom. However, the attempt to hit Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport marks an escalation in the threat to Saudi Arabia from Yemen. A missile nearly reaching Riyadh, geographically located in the middle of the Kingdom, brings the threat posed by instability in Yemen close to the Kingdom’s largest city and capital.
The United States supports the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting in Yemen to restore to power the UN-recognized legitimate leader of Yemen, President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. U.S. support stops short of significant ground troop support, but the United States has conducted raids and drone airstrikes of its own against terrorist targets in Yemen.
US President Trump has taken a hard line stance against Iranian aggression in the region, which has been welcomed by Saudi Arabia.