On September 23, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz condemned Iran for spreading “chaos, extremism and sectarianism” across the Middle East and urged a “comprehensive” worldwide solution to prevent it from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. “Partial solutions and appeasement did not stop its threats to international peace and security,” he said, in his debut address to the opening of the 75th U.N. General Assembly.
Salman blamed Iran and its proxies, notably the Houthis in Yemen, for launching more than 300 ballistic missiles and more than 400 armed drones at the kingdom. Tehran was responsible for the attack on key oil facilities that temporarily cut Saudi production in half in September 2019, he charged. The strike demonstrated Iran’s “disregard for the stability of the global economy and the security of oil supplies to the international markets,” he said.
For Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for militant groups have been more pressing threats than its nuclear program. Tehran “exploited” the 2015 nuclear deal to “create terrorist networks,” the 85-year-old king claimed.
The king also called for the disarming of Hezbollah, a Shiite militia and political party established in Lebanon with Iranian support in the 1980s. Salman alleged that the deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut in August 2020 was a result of Hezbollah’s control “over the decision-making process in Lebanon by force of arms.” Hezbollah and its allies were part of the government at the time.
In a response, Iran flatly rejected the allegations. “Saudi Arabia desperately attempts to distract attention away from its dark long record in harboring, financing, inducing and arming the most dangerous terrorist networks,” U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Ravanchi countered that Saudi Arabia targeted civilians during the five-year war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are reportedly backed by Iran. In 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched an aerial campaign against the rebels. More than 100,000 people have since been killed. The following are excerpts on Iran from Salman’s address and the full text of Ravanchi’s letter to the United Nations.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s Address to the U.N. General Assembly
“Distinguished Attendees, The Kingdom's hands were extended to Iran in peace with a positive and open attitude over the past decades, but to no avail. The Kingdom received several of Iran's presidents and other senior officials, among the Kingdom's efforts to seek ways to build relations based on good neighborliness and mutual respect. The Kingdom welcomed the international efforts to deal with Iran's nuclear program, but time and again, the entire world witnessed how the Iranian regime exploited these efforts in order to intensify its expansionist activates, create its terrorist networks, and use terrorism, and in the process squandering the resources and wealth of the Iranian people for the purpose of its expansionist projects which produced nothing but chaos, extremism, and sectarianism. The Iranian regime, in line with its hostile attitude, targeted oil facilities in the Kingdom last year in blatant violation of international laws. By doing so, it assaulted international peace and security and proved its disregard for the stability of the global economy and the security of oil supplies to the international markets.
“The Iranian regime also continues, through its surrogates, to target the Kingdom, launching, to date, over 300 ballistic missiles and more than 400 armed drones (UAVs) in a stark violation to UNSC resolutions 2216 and 2231. Our experience with the Iranian regime has taught us that partial solutions and appeasement did not stop its threats to international peace and security. A comprehensive solution and a firm international position are required to ensure fundamental solutions to the Iranian regime's attempt to obtain weapons of mass destructions, and its ballistic missile program, and its interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and its sponsorship of terrorism.
“Distinguished Attendees, The Iranian regime interfered in Yemen by supporting the coup carried out by its surrogate, the Houthi militia, against the legitimate government. This has led to a political, economic and humanitarian crisis from which the fraternal people of Yemen are suffering. The coup is a threat to the security of the countries of the region and the sea lanes vital to the global economy. Furthermore, the Houthi militias impeded the flow of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people. They also obstructed the efforts to reach a political solution in Yemen and rejected efforts to deescalate the situation, the latest of which was the ceasefire announcement made by the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen last April in response to the UN's request, and in order to allow the efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen to proceed, instead, they continue to target civilians in Yemen and in the Kingdom.
“The Kingdom will not hesitate to defend its national security, nor will it abandon the fraternal people of Yemen until they regain their complete sovereignty and independence from Iranian hegemony. The Kingdom will continue to provide humanitarian support for the people of Yemen, and it will continue to support the efforts of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Yemen in accord with the GCC Initiative, the outcomes of the Comprehensive Yemeni National Dialogue, and UNSC resolution 2216.”
“We also stand by the fraternal people of Lebanon who are experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of the explosion at the Port of Beirut, which occurred as a result of the hegemony of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization affiliated with Iran, over the decision making process in Lebanon by force of arms. This led to disabling the constitutional state institutions in Lebanon. In order for the fraternal people of Lebanon to achieve their aspirations of security, stability and prosperity, this terrorist organization must be disarmed.”
Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi's Letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres
I am writing to you with regard to a statement made by the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on 23 September 2020, in the course of the general debate of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly, wherein unfounded allegations were raised against my country, all of which are hereby rejected categorically.
Indeed, through a series of fabrication and disinformation, Saudi Arabia desperately attempts to distract attention away from its dark long record in harboring, financing, inducing and arming the most dangerous terrorist networks, disseminating hate speech and extremist ideology, sowing the seeds of sectarian division, pursuing destabilizing, disruptive and subversive policies and practices in the region as well as the crimes it continues to commit for over six years in Yemen in flagrant violation of the basic principles of morality and humanity and rules of international law, particularly international humanitarian law, entailing its international responsibility.
Saudi Arabia has been a source of instability in the region for decades. It is a well-established fact that Saudi Arabia was the main financial supporter of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam, in his eight-year aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran in which he committed numerous crimes including the use of chemical weapons against Iranian and Iraqi cities and citizens.
With respect to the role of Saudi Arabia in supporting terrorist groups, it has now become quite evident that this country’s Wahhabi ideology is the main inspiring source of the most dangerous terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Qaida and through its petrodollars, Saudi Arabia has served as the main financier of such terrorist groups.
Another living example of the destructive policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the region is its almost six years of aggression, death and destruction in Yemen, in which thousands of civilians, including women and children, have been killed, and homes, mosques, hospitals, schools, marketplaces, diplomatic missions and even wedding and funeral ceremonies have been targeted. Such crimes have been so brutal and horrible that the United Nations placed this country at the top of the list of global child-killers. Although later, for clear non-professional reasons, its name was dropped from that list. This country still uses starvation as a war tactic and continues to prevent the entry of fuel, food, medicine and medical equipment to the most populated areas in Yemen amid the extremely serious health situation as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, further deteriorating the already critical humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Reiterating that restoration of peace and security in the region requires a genuine dialogue with the active and constructive engagement of all regional countries based on mutual respect, inclusivity and basic principles of international law, and recalling the Hormuz Peace Endeavour (known as HOPE), launched by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly (A/74/581-S/2019/933) -- which has received positive reactions from a number of regional countries -- I would like to underline that relying on foreign forces whose main interests are to sell more deadly weapons to this region has not produced security for the region. Instead, the regional countries should resolve their differences through dialogue and rely on their own capabilities to promote peace and security in the region. In this context, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is called upon to accept such a call for dialogue among all littoral States of the Persian Gulf.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, which has played an incontestable role in ensuring energy security, commercial navigation and security and stability in the broader Persian Gulf region, will continue to further contribute to the realization of a secure and prosperous region.
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda item 8.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh on September 24: “As the base and birthplace of the ideologies of Takifiri [extremist] terrorist groups and the main financial and logistical supporter of terrorism in the region, Saudi Arabia has, for years, been pursuing a blame-game policy and seeking to distort realities in order to escape the realities and not to be held accountable for its crimes.”
The Saudi regime’s support for, and alignment with the US in its failed policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran, its attempts to expand relations with the usurper Zionist regime of Israel, and paying billions of dollars of Saudi people’s money in ransom have not only failed to produce any results for Saudi Arabia, but also turned it into a humiliated creature among Arab countries.”
“Saudi Arabia has become delirious due to back-to-back defeats it has suffered both on the ground and on the political front in Yemen, and Riyadh wants to shirk responsibility for the war crimes it has committed against Yemeni women and children.”
“In line with its responsible approach in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran has, time and again, reminded the world of the Saudis’ miscalculations which have imposed a heavy price on the region, and keeps emphasizing its fundamental policy of boosting diplomatic and dialogue-oriented talks in the region and the promotion of relations with all neighbors.”