RIYADH – Saudi Arabia on Thursday accused Iran of ordering a drone attack by Yemen’s rebels that knocked out a key oil pipeline earlier this week.
Prince Khalid Bin Salman, the vice minister for defense and brother of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, said on Twitter that Tuesday’s drone attack, which was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, undermined efforts to heal the divided country.
“The terrorist acts, ordered by the regime in Tehran, and carried out by the Houthis, are tightening the noose around the ongoing political efforts,” Prince Khalid said, without providing evidence. “These militias are merely a tool that Iran’s regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region.”
Meanwhile, a newspaper close to the palace went further, running an editorial calling for “surgical” US strikes on Iran in retaliation. Iran has been accused by the US and the UN of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthis, which Tehran denies.
The Arab News editorial, published in English, said it’s “clear that (US) sanctions are not sending the right message” and that “they must be hit hard,” without elaborating on what specific targets should be struck.
Washington has already deployed warships to the Persian Gulf as well as other military forces, including troops and warplanes to countries neighbouring Iran.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on May 6 that it was a message to the Iranian regime that any attack on US interests or its allies would “be met with unrelenting force.”
The accusations came as Saudi-led forces launched retaliatory airstrikes against Houthi positions in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, killing at least six people, including four children. At least 40 other people were wounded, according to Yemen’s Health Ministry.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE entered the Yemen war in 2015 and have long accused Iran of providing their Houthi foes with support. The Houthis control the capital, Sana’a, and have repeatedly lobbed missiles toward Riyadh.
Despite its military superiority, the Saudi-led coalition has yet to defeat the Houthis. But the four-year war has killed thousands and left millions facing hunger and disease.