(CNSNews.com) – Saudi King Salman on Thursday demanded that the international community “use all means” to counter Iranian threats to maritime navigation and terror sponsorship, charging that the absence of a “firm” response up to now has encouraged an escalation in malign behavior.
Addressing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts in Mecca, Salman accused Iran of responsibility for the sabotage of four oil tankers near the Persian Gulf, as well as drone attacks on key oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
Iranian threats to maritime navigation ‘jeopardize world oil supplies,” he said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, heading for a European visit where Iran will be on the agenda, told reporters flying with him that the recent incidents “were efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil throughout the world.”
The official Saudi Press Agency quoted Salman as telling GCC leaders their nations must work seriously to preserve security in the light of “the recent criminal acts targeting one of the world’s most important trade routes through sabotage act against four commercial carriers close to the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates in addition to targeting two oil pumping stations and a number of vital installations in the kingdom.”
He argued that a “lack of a deterrent and firm stance to confront the subversive activities of the Iranian regime in the region has led the Iranian regime to continue and escalate these activities as we see today.”
“We demand the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards the threat posed by Iranian practices to the international peace and security, use all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, sponsoring terrorist activities in the region and the world, and threatening the freedom of maritime navigation in the international straits.”
Saudi Arabia on Thursday night opened two of three major “emergency” summits it is hosting this week, with a strong focus on Iran.
The summit of the six-member GCC (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain) was followed by an Arab League summit, while an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit was taking place on Friday.
‘If American citizens or facilities are threatened or attacked …’
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Iran’s major rivals in the region, and in the former in particular there have been calls for stronger action to be taken against the regime in Tehran following the recent incidents.
Earlier this month a newspaper close to the government in Riyadh published a front page editorial calling for “surgical strikes” against the regime.
During a visit to the UAE Wednesday, National Security Advisor John Bolton characterized the U.S. response to the Iranian aggression as measured – and evidently effective, noting that there had been no further incidents since the first “three attacks.”
The “three attacks” referred to were the sabotage of the oil tankers on May 12 – which Bolton attributed to “naval mines, almost certainly from Iran” – the drone attacks on the Saudi oil infrastructure on May 14, and the firing of a rocket that landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on May 19.
“I think there is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this,” Bolton said. “And I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know.”
Before the three incidents occurred the Trump administration, citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” sped up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and sent strategic bombers to the region to send a message to Iran.
Following the attacks, President Trump approved a request from U.S. Central Command for 1,500 additional U.S. troops to be sent to the region for force protection, including some 600 already deployed to man a Patriot missile defense battery.
Asked Wednesday how the U.S. will respond to attacks targeting its regional allies, Bolton said that the U.S. was “trying to be prudent and responsible.”
“We gathered evidence about the nature of the attacks on the tankers and the attack on the Saudi pipeline. We have sent additional forces into the region to act as a deterrent, which – knock on wood – has been successful since the round of three attacks that I mentioned earlier.”
“The point is to make it very clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of actions risk a very strong response from the United States,” Bolton added.
During a visit to London on Thursday, Bolton said again he did not think anyone who knows the region had any doubt who was responsible for the attacks.
The countries whose tankers were targeted – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Norway – could soon make public the result of their investigations, he told Sky News.
Asked what it would take for the U.S. to take action against Iran – since it hadn’t after the allies were targeted – Bolton said, “We’ve made it particularly clear that if American citizens or facilities are threatened or attacked, that there will be a very strong response.”
The Iranian regime has denied responsibility for the attacks, and a foreign ministry spokesman called Bolton’s allegation about naval mines “ridiculous.”