Saudi Arabia does not want a war with Iran but will respond “with strength and determination” if Iran decides to start one, a top Saudi official said on Sunday.
“We don’t want a war in any way, but at the same time we won’t allow Iran to continue its hostile policies toward the kingdom,” Foreign Affairs Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh early Sunday morning. “We want peace and stability.”
Al-Jubeir began the press conference - called suddenly after midnight - by listing a series of terror attacks in which he said Iran had played a role over the past few decades.
The Iranian government “is not looking for stability or security in the region,” he said, adding that Yemen’s Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, had launched more than 200 missiles into Saudi Arabia over the past few years.
The Houthis also were behind a drone attack on Saudi oil installations last week, in which the drones were supplied by Iran, he claimed.
The attacks on the two Aramco oil-pumping stations forced the temporary closure of an important east-west pipeline in the kingdom and added to growing friction in the Gulf, where the US has tightened sanctions against Iran, demanding it stop supporting militias across the Middle East, including the Houthis.
The Saudi pipeline has since reopened, but officials from all sides have warned that a string of recent events has left the region at risk of sliding into a potentially devastating international conflict.
“We won’t stand with our hands bound,” Al-Jubeir said. “The ball is in Iran’s court and Iran should determine what the path will be.”
The United Arab Emirates and other countries are still investigating attacks on several ships, including two Saudi vessels, in Fujairah last week, Al-Jubeir added.
“We have some indications and we will make the announcements once the investigations are complete,” he said.
Asked about recent accusations that Norwegian intelligence had warned an Arab activist in Oslo, Iyad Al-Baghdadi, about a potential threat to him from Saudi Arabia, Al-Jubeir said he hadn’t heard of Al-Baghdadi.
“It might be his goal to get permanent residency in a certain country, but we don’t have any information on him,” Al-Jubeir said.
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