Saudi Arabia calls emergency meeting of Arab states on Iran

World Today

It’s a battle for more influence in the region. Saudi Arabia is lobbying its allies — and even some adversaries — to take action against Tehran. CGTN’s Adel EL Mahrouky reports.

Three summits will take place this week in Mecca. Heads of states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Conference have all been invited. Even Saudi Arabia’s foes, such as Qatar, have been asked to join, as the kingdom tries to round up support against Iran.

“The main goal is to develop a plan to counter Iran’s movements in the region and to limit the power of the militias supported by Iran,” said Hisham Elbakly, the head of the political studies department at the Salman-Zayed Center. “Saudi Arabia views Iran’s expanding influence as a threat. It’s a power struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites in the region.”

Frequent Saudi reports of attacks, allegedly from Houthi rebels using Iranian missiles, have increased tension between the Riyadh and Tehran. The latest attacks were aimed at Saudi oil fields, and vessels near Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates. Earlier this month, the US deployed an aircraft carrier and bomber task force in the Persian Gulf, to counter what it said were Iranian threats.

“If the Islamic nations really want to freeze Iran’s influence, I’d expect the summit to join the U.S. sanctions against Iran and the countries that support it,” said Elbakly. “The US has increased its troops in the region, pushing more missiles launchers and an aircraft carrier. But it’s still not enough for an indication of a real threat.”

Iranian foreign Minister has warned members of the OIC from taking measures against Teharan. He stressed the Organization of Islamic conference shouldn’t be used as a tool by Saudi Arabia to pressure other member states.

The Islamic organization has 56 member states, making it the second largest international organization following the UN. The summit aims to reach a unified stance against Iran, which is a member.  The meeting could also expose divisions within.