Saudi Arabia is calling the missile that was intercepted and destroyed over the weekend an “act of war” by Iran.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported that the missile was discovered to be made in Iran and then smuggled to Yemen, where it was fired by the Houthi rebels.
“The missile attack was the first aimed by the Shiite rebels at the heart of the Saudi capital, underscoring the growing threat posed by the raging conflict in Yemen,” writes AFP. “A loud explosion was heard and smouldering debris landed inside the King Khalid International Airport, just north of Riyadh, after the missile was shot down but authorities reported no major damage or loss of life.”
The missile traveled 500 miles before it was intercepted. Saudi Arabia has vowed to retaliate.
“We see this as an act of war,” said Adel Jubair, the Saudi foreign minister to CNN. “Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps.”
The agency said that the attempted missile attack was “a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime and could rise to be considered as an act of war” and that Saudi Arabia will take the necessary actions in response.
Following the strike, the Saudi Press Agency also said that the country “reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner, in accordance with international law and based on the right of self-defense.”
The ballistic missile was aimed at Riyadh’s main airport.
“The missile was launched indiscriminately to target the civilian and populated areas. Shattered fragments from the intercepted missile landed in an uninhabited area of the airport and there were no injuries,” said Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for coalition forces in Yemen to the Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed has also condemned Iran for supplying the weapon to the Houthi rebels.
“For his part, the crown prince stressed that the involvement of the Iranian regime in supplying its Houthi militias with missiles is considered a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime and may be considered an act of war against the kingdom,” reported the Saudi Press Agency.
This comes just a day after the Saudi King and Prince Mohammed made a massive arrest of princes and ministers as part of an anti-corruption campaign. A move proving that the Prince isn’t afraid to take action.
“Today confrontation is the name of the game,” said Joseph A. Kechichian, a friend of the royal family and a scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to the New York Times. “This young man, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is not willing to roll over and play dead. If you challenge him, he is saying, he is going to respond.”
However, Iranian officials are denying that the missiles came from Iran and said the claims were “false, irresponsible, destructive and provocative,” according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi, as reported by the Iranian news agency Tasnim.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister took to Twitter to point blame at Saudi Arabia.
“KSA is engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior & risky provocations. It blames Iran for the consequences,” tweeted Javad Zariff.
Author’s note: It’s doubtful that Iran will take steps against Saudi Arabia again. Iran will likely take action to make sure the rebels in Yemen don’t fire another strike. Not to mention, Trump’s son-in-law has visited Riyadh three times this year and has developed a relationship with Prince Mohammed. Then President Trump applauded King Salman and prince’s recent arrests earlier this week. Iran is probably unhappy about the U.S. and Saudi Arabia developing a better relationship. If something else does actually happen, then that would be a signal that Iran wants to start war.