Saudi Arabia accused Iran-backed Hezbollah of attacking its airport and said it will retaliate “in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time.”
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Saudi Arabia on Monday accused the Shiite Hezbollah terror group of being behind Saturday’s missile attack on one of the kingdom’s major international airports on the outskirts of Riyadh.
The missile, fired towards King Khalid International Airport, was shot down by the Saudi air defense forces, with fragments landing in an uninhabited area north of the capital.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir told CNN on Monday that “it was an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah, from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen.”
Both the Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels are Shiite groups supported and bankrolled by Tehran.
‘An Act of War’
“We see this as an act of war,” al-Jubeir said. “Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps.”
The missile used in the attack was produced in Iran, smuggled in parts into Yemen, and then “operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Hezbollah” helped put it back together again and launch it, he said.
The IRGC is entrusted with Iran’s missile program and is responsible for the Islamic Republic’s subversive actions and international terrorism.
As for the Saudi response, al-Jubeir told CNN that the kingdom “reserve[s] the right to respond in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time.”
“This is a very, very hostile act,” he stressed. “We have been extending our hand to Iran since 1979 in friendship, and what we get back is death and destruction.”
Al Jubeir tweeted after the interview that Iran is destabilizing the Middle East and vowed to protect his country’s national security. “Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighboring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement on our national security,” he stated.
As an initial response to the missile attack, the Saudi-led coalition announced on Sunday that it had closed the air, land and sea ports in Yemen. The Saudi statement says the closures will be temporary and “take into account” the work of humanitarian and aid organizations.
Iran Dismisses Saudi Accusations
The Iranian foreign ministry dismissed the Saudi accusations as “baseless…false, irresponsible, destructive and provocative.”
“The Saudis who have not been able to attain their ominous goals in the long war and military aggression put themselves in more bottlenecks using naïve and improper psychological operations by raising stupid, baseless and fully false allegations,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
Yemen is one of several battlegrounds in the Middle East in which Iran is backing Shiite forces against Sunni forces, in many cases backed by Saudi Arabia, as part of the ongoing proxy war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The Muslim powers are vying for supremacy in the Middle East.
The attack on Riyadh came as former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, speaking in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, announced his resignation, citing Iran’s hostility and meddling in his country.
Iran generated “disorder and destruction” in the Lebanon and meddled in its internal affairs, as well as other Arab countries, Hariri charged.
Referring to the Hezbollah terror group, which is based in Lebanon and supported and funded by Iran, Hariri said, “Iran’s arm … has managed to impose a fait accompli on Lebanon through the power of its weapons.”