RFL/RE – Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of ordering recent drone attacks on the country’s oil facilities that were claimed by Yemen’s Shi’ite Huthi rebels.
Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman tweeted on May 16 that the attacks were “ordered by the regime in Tehran,” which he accused of using the Huthis as “a tool…to implement its expansionist agenda in the region.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir tweeted that the Huthi rebels were “sacrificing the need of the Yemeni people for the benefit of Iran.”
There were no immediate comments from Iran, which has denied backing the Huthis.
Earlier in the day, a Saudi-led military coalition confirmed it had carried out air strikes on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, saying the move aimed at “neutralizing the ability of the Huthi militia to carry out acts of aggression,” according to Saudi-owned broadcaster Al-Arabiya.
Reports said that the air strikes targeted military sites in and around rebel-held Saana, and left a number of people dead.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to push back an advance by the Huthis and to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi.
The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, is seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and regional rival Iran.
The rebels said their May 14 drone attacks that damaged a Saudi oil pipeline were a response to “crimes” committed by Riyadh in Yemen.
The latest violence comes amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States.
Washington has ramped up pressure on Tehran in recent days, bolstering the U.S. military presence in the region to counter what U.S. officials called “imminent” threats from Iran against the interests of the United States or its allies.
Iran has dismissed the allegations and accused the United States of an “unacceptable” escalation of tensions.