Arab foreign ministers have condemned Iran and its allied Lebanese Shi'ite Hizballah group during an extraordinary meeting in Cairo.
The Arab League meeting in the Egyptian capital on November 19 came amid heightened tensions between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran over Lebanon and the conflict in Yemen.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Saudi ally, resigned on November 4 in a surprise announcement made from Riyadh.
Hariri cited Iran and Hizballah for meddling in Arab countries. He also said he was afraid for his life.
Hizballah is part of a Lebanese government made up of rival factions, and an ally of President Michel Aoun, who refused to accept Hariri’s resignation and accused Saudi Arabia of holding the prime minster against his will. Riyadh and Hariri both deny those accusations.
After French intervention, Hariri flew to France, where he said on November 19 that he will clarify his position when he returns to Beirut in the coming days.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told the assembly on November 19 that said his country "will not stand by and will not hesitate to defend its security" in the face of Iranian "aggression."
"Any leniency in dealing with their policies would only encourage them more, so we must stand together," Jubeir said, referring to Iran.
'A Dangerous Abyss'
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said the Iranian-backed Hizballah was "in total control" of Lebanon.
"Iran's biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist [Hizballah] arm," Sheikh Khalid charged.
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Arab nations would raise the matter with international organizations, including the UN Security Council. He gave no details on what measures they would take.
"Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss," Gheit said.
But Gheit said the Arab League was "not declaring war on Iran at this stage." He added that Arab nations have not asked the Security Council to meet, but were "just briefing the council and maybe the next stage would be for us to meet and call for a Security Council meeting and submit a draft Arab resolution [against Iran]."
Saudi Arabia had requested the November 19 meeting to discuss "the violations committed by Iran in the Arab region, which undermines security and peace … around the globe," according to a memo seen by the AFP news agency.
In a declaration after the meeting, the Arab League accused Hizballah of "supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles."
It said Arab nations would provide details to the Security Council of Tehran's violations for arming Huthi rebels in Yemen.
"Unfortunately countries like the Saudi regime are pursuing divisions and creating differences and because of this they don’t see any results other than divisions," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Iranian state media earlier on November 19 on the sidelines of a meeting in Antalya with his Russian and Turkish counterparts about the Syria conflict.
The Saudis said that a missile fired from Yemen was intercepted on November 4 before it hit any targets.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince accused Iran of "direct military aggression" by supplying missiles to Shi’ite Huthi rebels, while Tehran denied any involvement.
Bahrain has also blamed Iran for an explosion that caused a fire at Bahrain's main oil pipeline on November 10.
Tehran denied involvement.
With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters