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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Arab countries to address UN on Tehran's missile programme

UAE's Anwar Gargash said Sunday's Arab League meeting on Iranian intervention was 'historical'

Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir (R) talks with UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash (C) during a meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on November 19, 2017. Khaled Desouki / AFP
Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir (R) talks with UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash (C) during a meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on November 19, 2017. Khaled Desouki / AFP

Arab countries will address the security council president to clarify Iranian “violations” of a UN Security Council resolution on Tehran’s ballistic missiles programme.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE condemned Iran’s “aggression” in the region at a general meeting of the Arab League in Cairo.

Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted late on Sunday: “The decision of the Arab League on Iranian intervention today was historical and sends a clear message on the effectiveness of joint Arab action.”

The meeting comes after a missile was intercepted near Riyadh’s international airport on November 4 claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Riyadh and Tehran have for decades stood on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria — where Iran-backed Hizbollah militiamen are fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

Saudi’s foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir said that his country “"will not hesitate to defend its national security to keep its people safe", in opening remarks at the meeting.

The Arab League in a resolution issued a “strong condemnation” of the November 4 attack on Saudi Arabia, saying it was "blatant aggression against the kingdom and a threat to Arab national security".

Meanwhile, Bahrain's foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed said that Hizbollah — which receives both financial and military support from Iran — was the biggest threat to security in the region.

"Iran's biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hizbollah arm," he said, adding that was “in total control” of Lebanon.

He also said that Hizbollah "does not just carry out operations inside the borders of [Lebanon], it also crosses its borders to all of our nations", making it "a threat to Arab national security".

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Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said Lebanon was among the countries that voted in favour of the resolution, except for the points in which Hizbollah was mentioned.

Hizbollah — which is part of Lebanon’s consensus government — is the only party in the country that still maintains a standing militia.

Lebanon's foreign minister Gebran Bassil — a member of the Free Patriotic Movement, an ally of Hizbollah — did not attend Sunday's session, but Beirut's permanent representative was present.

Lebanon’s political scene is split between Hizbollah and its allies and a Saudi-supported coalition, led by Saad Hariri, who recently resigned as Lebanese prime minister, citing Iran’s “grip” on his country and threats to his life.