The United States called Tuesday for international action to hold Iran to account after Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of ‘direct military aggression’ over a Yemeni rebel missile attack near Riyadh, SBS reports. Information recently released by Saudi Arabia shows a missile launched into the country in July by Yemen’s Houthi rebels was an Iranian Qiam, a type of weapon not previously present in Yemen.
Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Tuesday that Iran had supplied a missile to the Huthis that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July, and referred to Riyadh’s claim that the weapon used on Saturday “may also be of Iranian origin”.
“By providing these types of weapons to the Huthi militias in Yemen, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is violating two UN resolutions simultaneously. We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations,” Haley said.
A separate missile, intercepted Saturday in Riyadh, may also be of Iranian origin, Haley said. She blasted Iran for its “complete disregard for its international obligations,” and called on the UN to “take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations.”
“The United States is committed to containing Iran’s destabilizing actions and will not turn a blind eye to these serious violations of international law by the Iranian regime,” Haley said.
Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince had accused Iran of supplying missiles to the Huthis, which he said “could be considered as an act of war”, but Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif retorted that “the allegations by Saudi officials were contrary to reality”.
The Iran-backed Huthi rebels also threatened to attack ports and airports in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, escalating a crisis between Riyadh and Tehran. Saturday’s attack showed that despite a more than two-year Saudi-led bombing campaign and blockade, the Huthis retain missiles capable of striking targets deep inside the kingdom.
“All airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be a direct target of our weapons, which is a legitimate right. We will not stand idly by – we will seek more radical means to prevent both the tightening of the blockade and all acts aimed at starving and humiliating the people of Yemen,” the rebels’ political office said in a statement.
The Saudi-led coalition’s decision to close off Yemen’s air, sea and land borders prevented the United Nations on Monday from sending two humanitarian aid flights to the war-torn country, a UN spokesman said. The coalition has tightened its blockade of rebel-held areas of Yemen, blocking UN-supervised aid deliveries despite urgent appeals from the world body.
But the blocking of aid threatens some seven million people already on the brink of famine.
“If these channels, these lifelines, are not kept open it is catastrophic for people who are already in… the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” said Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian coordination office in Geneva.
OCHA said the coalition had also asked it to clear ships from the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida, a key entry point for UN aid.
The International Committee of the Red Cross also urgently called for humanitarian access to be restored.
“Humanitarian supply lines to Yemen must remain open. Food, medicine and other essential supplies are critical for the survival of 27 million Yemenis already weakened by a conflict now in its third year,” said Robert Mardini, who heads ICRC’s Near and Middle East operations.