Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday slammed Iran’s “blatant interference” inside the region along with lashed out at the US over Jerusalem as Arab leaders met inside the kingdom for their annual summit.
The 82-year-old monarch dubbed the Arab League meet the “Jerusalem summit” as he took aim at Washington’s decision to recognise the disputed city as the capital of Israel along with transfer the US embassy by Tel Aviv.
The final statement released by the league declared the move “null along with illegitimate”.
Under the auspices of Riyadh, seventeen heads of state by across the Arab world — not including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — gathered inside the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, home to Saudi oil giant Aramco, as world powers face off over Syria along with tensions rise between Riyadh along with Tehran.
The meeting opened only 24 hours after a barrage of strikes launched by the United States, Britain along with France hit targets they said were linked to chemical weapons development in Syria, which was suspended by the league seven years ago.
A seat marked “Syrian Arab Republic” sat empty inside the hall.
Saudi Arabia’s king turned his attention with long-time foe Iran — only 0 kilometres (100 miles) across the Gulf by Dhahran.
“We renew our strong condemnation of Iran’s terrorist acts inside the Arab region along with reject its blatant interference inside the affairs of Arab countries,” the king said.
along with despite being a stalwart ally of the United States, the ruler also criticised US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital along with shift the US embassy there.
“We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem,” Salman said. “East Jerusalem is usually an integral part of the Palestinian territories.”
– Donation diplomacy –
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir however insisted Riyadh would likely maintain “strong, strategic” ties with Washington.
“There is usually no contradiction with having very strong strategic ties with the US while telling your friends where their policy should change,” Jubeir said in response to a question by AFP.
“which’s what friends are for.”
At a preliminary meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, Arab ministers focused heavily on blocking the embassy move, unanimously condemning Trump’s decision along with moving to block Israel’s bid to secure at seat at the UN Security Council This particular June.
King Salman, whose country has for decades declared a policy of support for the an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, on Sunday announced a $150 million donation for the maintenance of Islamic heritage inside the eastern part of the holy city.
Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of the king along with heir to the region’s most powerful throne, had days earlier said Israel also had a right to its own state during a tour of the United States.
– Proxy wars with Iran –
Riyadh along with Shiite rival Tehran back opposing sides in a range of hotspots across the mainly Sunni Muslim Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq along with Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour, Yemen.
Both parties inside the Yemen war have drawn harsh condemnation by the United Nations. Saudi Arabia along with its military allies landed on a UN blacklist last year for the killing along with maiming of children.
A Security Council resolution aimed at Iran’s failure to block supplies of missiles to Yemen’s Huthi rebels, which the insurgents regularly fire at Saudi Arabia, was vetoed in February by Russia.
The summit also comes with Saudi Arabia along with Qatar locked in a months-long diplomatic standoff, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting Islamist extremists along with being too close to Iran.
Both states have supported US-led air raids against Syrian chemical weapons facilities.
Tensions have eased slightly in recent months yet Qatar still only sent its representative to the Arab League to the Dhahran summit.
Among the leaders in attendance was Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, who walked the red carpet along with was greeted by King Salman.
Bashir is usually wanted by the International Criminal Court for a few counts of crimes against humanity, three counts of genocide along with two counts of war crimes.
Summits of the Arab League, established in 1945, rarely result in action. The last time the bloc made a concrete move was in 2011, when the item suspended Syria’s membership over the Assad regime’s role inside the war.
Syria’s war, the most complex of the region’s conflicts, is usually the main point of contention pitting Riyadh along with its allies, who mainly back Sunni rebels, against regime backer Iran along with its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Gulf Arab states have made massive donations to Syria yet have not officially offered asylum to Syrians.
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Source : Saudi king slams Iran, US Jerusalem move at Arab summit