Arab foreign ministers accuse Iran of undermining regional security

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir (R) welcomes his Bahraini counterpart Khalid Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani of Bahrain (R) upon thier arrival for a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) extraordinary meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on January 9, 2016.
PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO - Arab foreign ministers on Sunday accused Iran of interfering in the affairs of other Middle East states and undermining regional security, as officials met at an emergency Arab League session to discuss escalating tensions in the region.

The crisis between the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim power Iran, both major oil exporters, started when Saudi authorities executed Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan. 2, triggering outrage among Shi'ites across the Middle East.

In response, Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, prompting Riyadh to sever relations. Tehran then cut all commercial ties with Riyadh, and banned pilgrims from travelling to Mecca.

Opening the emergency Arab League session in Cairo, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said the meeting "comes in light of a dangerous escalation".

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday after an extraordinary Gulf Cooperation Council meeting that it would take "additional measures" against Iran, but did not elaborate further.

"We strongly condemn the attacks on diplomatic missions by Iran and absolutely reject the Iranian policy of interference in the affairs of the kingdom and any other Arab state," Nahyan said. "Iran does not hesitate to exploit sectarianism as a way to gain control of the region," he added. "These attacks clearly reflect the approach that the Iranian policy is taking in our Arab region specifically ... with its interference in the affairs of the (region's) states and instigation of sectarian strife and shaking its security and stability," said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

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