Saudi warns of oil supply threat as allies rally against Iran

Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca yesterday. Iran and Turkey leaders were notably absent.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca yesterday. Iran and Turkey leaders were notably absent.PHOTO: REUTERS

MECCA • Saudi Arabia's King Salman yesterday warned that "terrorist" attacks in the Gulf region could imperil global oil supplies, as he sought to galvanise support among Islamic countries against arch-rival Iran.

The king was speaking at a meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the third and final Teheran-focused summit in the holy city of Mecca, marked by the notable absence of Iran and Turkey leaders.

The world's top oil exporter has ratcheted up tensions with Iran after recent sabotage attacks damaged four vessels, two of them Saudi oil tankers, off the United Arab Emirates and twin Yemeni rebel drone attacks shut down a key Saudi oil pipeline.

Teheran has strongly denied involvement in any of the attacks.

"We confirm that terrorist actions not only target the kingdom and the Gulf region, but also target the safety of navigation and world oil supplies," the Saudi King told OIC member states.

In a tweet just before the start of the summit, he had vowed to confront "aggressive threats and subversive activities".

"Undermining the security of the kingdom effectively undermines the security of the Arab and Islamic world, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation calls for a position on the attacks on the kingdom," said OIC secretary-general Yousef Ahmed al-Othaimeen.

 
 
 
 

In the previous two back-to-back summits on Friday, Gulf and Arab allies rallied around Saudi Arabia, drawing accusations from Iran of "sowing division".

The summits came after US President Donald Trump's hawkish national security adviser John Bolton last Wednesday said that Iranian naval mines were "almost certainly" responsible for the damage to the four ships off the United Arab Emirates on May 12.

Teheran dismissed Mr Bolton's accusation as "laughable" and accused him of pursuing "evil desires for chaos in the region".

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was notably absent from the key OIC summit, an AFP photographer said. A regional heavyweight, Turkey was instead represented by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was also not present.

Mr Erdogan's visit would have been his first to the kingdom since the brutal murder last October of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which tarnished the international reputation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi royal insider and Washington Post contributor, was killed and dismembered in what Saudi Arabia said was a "rogue" operation. But CIA analysis leaked to the US media pointed the finger at Prince Mohammed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 02, 2019, with the headline 'Saudi warns of oil supply threat as allies rally against Iran'. Print Edition | Subscribe