Iranian officials have dismissed Saudi Arabian allegations that a missile attack in the Saudi capital Riyadh was orchestrated by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, saying the attack came against a backdrop of what was termed a “dangerous escalation” in the political situation between the two Middle Eastern countries.
“By levelling baseless, absurd and unsubstantiated accusations against others, the Saudis are seeking to cover up their back-to-back failures in achieving field victory in the war on the Yemeni nation, despite being equipped with a huge collection of cutting-edge weaponry worth tens of billions of dollars,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in a statement on March 27 in a reaction to Saudi remarks on the third anniversary of the civil war ravaging Yemen.
Spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, Colonel Turki Al-Malki, said in a news conference in Riyadh, on March 26 that, “Sunday’s missile attacks on the Saudi capital were a clear violation of international law and accused the Houthis of smuggling weapons from Iran.”
He threatened retaliation against Tehran, accusing it of being behind the multiple attacks on the Kingdom.
“We reserve the right to respond against Iran at the right time and right place,” the Riyadh-based Arab News agency cited Al-Malki as saying.
According to a report by Reuters, the Houthi movement that controls northern Yemen vowed to fire more missiles into Saudi Arabia unless it stops bombing the country. Shortly afterwards, the movement claimed responsibility for the seven long-range rockets, which were fired at Riyadh and several smaller Saudi cities that are close to the Yemeni border.
Meanwhile, Saudi defense officials say that all of the missiles were successfully intercepted, but that falling debris killed one Egyptian. But Houthis claim that is a lie, and that some of the missiles did hit the intended targets.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), a branch of Iran's Armed Forces, has rejected Saudi accusations that Iran is providing missiles to the Houthi movement, saying such claims are aimed at diverting public opinion from Saudi’s “atrocities” in Yemen.
“Everyone knows that all routes to send arms to Yemen are blocked and that Saudi Arabia has imposed a complete siege on the oppressed nation of Yemen,” IRGC's Deputy Commander for Political Affairs Brigadier General Yadollah Javani told Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council condemned the Houthi group’s missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and expressed grave concern at reports of violations of an U.N. arms embargo on Houthi leaders.
In February, Russia vetoed a western push within the Security Council to call out Tehran for failing to prevent Iranian weapons from falling into the hands of the Houthis.
The three-year conflict pits a coalition of Arab states against the Houthis, an armed movement sympathetic to Iran. The Houthis, who deny they are Iranian pawns and say their movement is a national revolution against corruption, control the north of Yemen.
On March 26, 2015 Saudi Arabia along with its regional allies - and with the political, logistical and military support of the United States and Britain - launched a military operation in Yemen to restore Yemen’s former president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia describe the Houthis as Iranian proxies and accuse them of seeking to overthrow the government of Yemen and bring it under Iranian influence.
Over 14,000 people have been killed, and about 10 million are also suffering from starvation in Yemen since beginning of the hostilities.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are backing opposing sides in a number of regional conflicts. Riyadh is accusing Tehran of interfering in the domestic affairs of Arab countries. Iran accuses the Saudi military of killing civilians in Yemen through air strikes and financing terror groups.