In his annual address to the top government Shura council advisory body delivered virtually from his palace in Neom, the Saudi monarch said, “The kingdom stresses the dangers of Iran’s regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism and calls for a decisive stance from the international community against Iran that guarantees a drastic handling of its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction and develop its ballistic missiles program.”
They were the 84-year-old ruler’s first public remarks since he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September via video link, when he also took aim at Iran.
Riyadh was closely aligned with Washington during the Trump Administration, and an enthusiastic backer of it’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign reimposed on the Islamic Republic after the 2018 U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal forged with world powers.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran have been locked in a decades-long struggle for influence across the region, supporting opposing sides in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden pledged in his campaign that he would return to the 2015 nuclear pact, that had been negotiated when he served as Vice President in Barack Obama’s administration. He also said he would reassess ties with Saudi Arabia, which is a major oil exporter and buyer of U.S. arms.
Riyadh is working to guarantee the stability of global oil supplies to serve both producers and consumers in spite of the impact wreaked by COVID-19, stressed the Saudi monarch.
King Salman said the kingdom continues to support United Nations-led efforts to reach a political settlement In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi Islamist militants in a nearly six year war that has killed tens of thousands. He condemned the Iran-aligned Houthi’s “deliberate and methodological” targeting of civilians inside Saudi Arabia with drones and ballistic missiles.
Regarding Israel, the Saudi King repeated his long-standing support for a Two State solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.
He made no comment over the recent U.S.-brokered normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, which has been part of a strategic realignment against Iran. The Kingdom has quietly acquiesced to the agreements while stopping short of either endorsing them or indicating willingness to take such action itself.