King Salman opens emergency Arab summit with call to thwart Iranian 'interference'

King Salman opens emergency Arab summit with call to thwart Iranian 'interference'
Saudi Arabia's monarch on Thursday opened an emergency gathering of Arab leaders with a call for a concerted effort to stop Iranian 'interference' in the Middle East.
2 min read
King Salman convened an emergency summit in Mecca on Thursday [Anadolu]

Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened an emergency summit of Arab leaders in the holy city of Mecca on Thursday with a call for the international community to use all means to confront Iran, but he also said the kingdom extends its hand for peace.

King Salman was speaking at the first of three high-level summits in Mecca that were hastily convened after a spike in tensions between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran. 

Tensions have also spiked between Tehran and Washington in recent weeks, with the US sending an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. The crisis is rooted in last year's decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.

Speaking at a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council, King Salman said the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack on a key Saudi oil pipeline earlier this month requires "serious efforts to protect the security and the gains" of the six energy-rich Arab nations.

Iran denies being involved in the attacks.

Read more: Trump adviser Bolton warns Iran of 'strong response' to any Gulf attack

The king called on the international community to thwart Iran's behaviors "and using all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, harboring global and regional terrorist entities and threatening international waterways."

He added that Saudi Arabia remains committed to extending its hand for peace and prosperity of the region.

Attending Thursday night's GCC summit were the leaders of Kuwait and Bahrain, as well as senior officials from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

That meeting will be immediately followed with an emergency summit of the 22-nation Arab League, minus Syria whose membership remains suspended.

Putting forth a unified position on Iran, however, faces many obstacles. Within the once clubby GCC, there are major differences between countries regarding Iran. Oman, for example, has relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran and acts as a facilitator of talks.

Qatar, meanwhile, is facing a blockade by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt over its foreign policies. The diplomatic standoff has pushed Qatar closer to Iran.

Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani's attended the Mecca summits on Thursday, marking the highest-level visit to Saudi Arabia by a Qatari official since the 2017 rift erupted.