Saudi allies meet in Riyadh to discuss oil protection
Military brass from GCC and western and Asian countries seek co-operation
GCC armed forces chiefs-of-staff met Arab and western military leaders on Monday to discuss ways to jointly protect the region’s infrastructure after September 14 attacks on Saudi Aramco oil installations.
Representatives of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Jordan and Egypt attended the meeting in Riyadh.
Gen Fayyadh Al Ruwaili, the Saudi chief-of-staff, said the meeting brought together “friendly countries” and sought to use “joint military capacity to secure sensitive facilities”.
Gen Al Ruwaili accused Iran of using sectarian sentiment for political ends, setting up militia proxies that owed “absolute loyalty” to Tehran and destabilised the Middle East.
“The region has been suffering consecutive crises since the regime of the Iranian revolution reached power,” he told the meeting.
Saudi Arabia said the military officials looked at ways that navies and air forces could be used to guard against “Iranian terrorist attacks and ensure the safety of marine navigation”.
Ten days earlier, the US announced it was sending extra forces to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defences. Riyadh and Washington have blamed the September 14 attacks on Iran.
The attack knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil processing capacity, before most of the damage was repaired.
Tension has been running high between Iran and the US and most of its Arab allies over US sanctions on Tehran's oil exports and attacks on ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
The waterways are used by oil tankers supplying almost a third of the world's oil.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Britain and Australia have joined a US coalition to protect shipping in the region.
Its members have committed troops, planes and ships to accompany and track vessels passing through the Gulf.
But Japan said last week it would send its own ships and planes to protect its merchant vessels in the Arabian Gulf, rejecting calls to join the US coalition.
Updated: October 22, 2019 12:58 AM