Saudi crown prince warns kingdom will confront security threats

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (Victoria Jones/PA)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said the kingdom is not seeking war in the region, but warned it will not hesitate to confront threats to its security.

His comments came just days after the US blamed Iran for suspected attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, denouncing what it called a campaign of “escalating tensions” in a region crucial to global energy supplies.

The US alleges Iran used limpet mines to target the tankers, pointing to black-and-white footage it captured that American officials describe as Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops removing an unexploded mine from the Kokuka Courageous.

An oil tanker on fire in the sea of Oman
The US blames Iran for the tanker attacks (AP Photo/ISNA)

Iran has rejected the US claim that it was responsible for Thursday’s attacks, saying it stands ready to play an active and constructive role in ensuring the security of strategic maritime passages.

Iran has also been accused of being behind the May 12 attacks on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Two of those vessels belonged to Saudi Arabia.

In his first public comments since the start of these incidents, the powerful Saudi prince, who is also defence minister and oversees all major levers of power in the country, said the attacks “confirm the importance of our demands of the international community to take a decisive stance” against Iran’s behaviour.

“The kingdom does not seek war in the region, but we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, sovereignty and vital interests,” he said in an interview with the Arabic newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat.

He accused rival Iran of using militias to destabilise the region. He also touted US-Saudi relations as “essential to achieving regional security and stability”.

“The problem is in Tehran and not anywhere else,” he said. “Iran is always the party that’s escalating in the region, carrying out terrorist attacks and criminal attacks either directly or through its militias.”

In recent days, Yemeni rebels known as Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile strike on a Saudi airport in the city of Abha that the kingdom said wounded 26 passengers. The Houthis also carried out a drone strike last month on a key Saudi oil pipeline.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming and training the rebels, which the kingdom has been at war against in Yemen since early 2015.

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