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Arab League Foreign Ministers Condemn Iran's 'Aggression'


Arab foreign ministers convene for an Arab League meeting in Cairo on November 19.

Arab foreign ministers have condemned what they described as Iran's "aggression" in the region during an extraordinary meeting in Cairo.

The Arab League meeting in the Egyptian capital on November 19 comes as tensions have risen between regional rivals Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran over Yemen's conflict and the Lebanese prime minister's surprise resignation two weeks ago.

In its request for the meeting, Saudi Arabia cited "the violations committed by Iran in the Arab region, which undermines security and peace … around the globe," according to a memo seen by the AFP news agency.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told the assembly that his country "will not stand by and will not hesitate to defend its security" in the face of Iranian "aggression."

"Any leniency in dealing with their policies would only encourage them more, so we must stand together," Jubeir said, referring to Iran.

Arab diplomats told AP on condition of anonymity that a Saudi draft resolution put forward to the Arab ministers is proposing a declaration of solidarity with the kingdom and stating Arab support for actions it might take to safeguard its national security in the face of Iran's policies.

According to the unnamed diplomats, the draft also includes a warning to Iran against continuing its policies in the region and orders Arab diplomats to request a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss Iranian "threats".

Hariri Resignation

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Saudi ally, resigned on November 4 in an announcement made from Riyadh.

Hariri cited Iran and Iran and its allied Lebanese Shi'ite Hizballah group for meddling in Arab countries. He also said he was afraid for his life.

Hizballah is part of a Lebanese government made up of rival factions, and an ally of President Michel Aoun, who refused to accept Hariri’s resignation and accused Saudi Arabia of holding the prime minster against his will.

Riyadh and Hariri both deny those accusations.

After French intervention, Hariri flew to France, where he said on November 19 that he would clarify his position when he returns to Beirut in the coming days.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said the Iranian-backed Hizballah was "in total control" of Lebanon.

"Iran's biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist [Hizballah] arm," Sheikh Khalid charged.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Arab nations would raise the matter with international organizations, including the UN Security Council. He gave no details on what measures they would take.

"Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss," Gheit said.

"Unfortunately countries like the Saudi regime are pursuing divisions and creating differences and because of this they don’t see any results other than divisions," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Iranian state media on November 19 on the sidelines of a meeting in Antalya with his Russian and Turkish counterparts about the Syria conflict.

The meeting in Cairo was also expected to address a missile fired by Yemeni rebels toward Saudi Arabia and a pipeline fire in Bahrain.

The Saudis said that a missile fired from Yemen was intercepted on November 4 before it hit any targets.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince accused Iran of "direct military aggression" by supplying missiles to Shi’ite Huthi rebels, while Tehran denied any involvement.

Bahrain has also blamed Iran for an explosion that caused a fire at its main oil pipeline on November 10.

Tehran denied involvement.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters
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