Arab League meets to discuss Iran ‘violations’

CAIRO, Egypt — Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo on Sunday at Saudi Arabia’s request for an extraordinary meeting to discuss alleged “violations” committed by Iran in the region.

The Arab League meeting comes as tensions have been rising between long-standing rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, including over League member Lebanon.

Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shiite power, have for decades stood on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East including in Syria and Yemen.

A diplomatic source said Riyadh was seeking to adopt a condemnation of “Iran and Arab militias linked to this country.”

A committee is to prepare a draft resolution on Iran to be discussed later by all ministers.

The meeting is also expected to address a Yemen rebel missile that was intercepted near Riyadh on November 4, and a pipeline fire in Bahrain on November 10.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of “direct military aggression” against the kingdom by supplying the Yemen rebels with ballistic missiles, but Tehran has denied any involvement.

Bahrain has also blamed Iran for the pipeline fire.

In its request for the meeting, Saudi Arabia referred to those two incidents and “to the violations committed by Iran in the Arab region, which undermines security and peace, not only in the Arab region, but around the globe,” according to a memo seen by AFP.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates supported the Saudi request for an extraordinary meeting, which was also approved by Djibouti, the current chair of the pan-Arab bloc, it said.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have also soared since Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s shock resignation on November 4, citing Iran’s “grip” on his country and threats to his life.

Lebanon’s foreign minister will not attend Sunday’s Arab League meeting, a ministry source has told AFP, but the country’s permanent representative would be present.

For more than a decade, Lebanon’s political class has been largely split between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies, and a Saudi-supported coalition led by Hariri.

In Syria, Hezbollah has fought to defend the government of President Bashar al-Assad, also an ally of Iran.

The Arab League has 22 members, but Syria’s membership was suspended at the end of 2011 following months of brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations and an opposition movement supported by Gulf monarchies.

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