King Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia warned about the threat from Iran during a summit, which was attended by French President Francois Hollande as the guest of honor.
The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh brought together the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates amid the increasing concern regarding the situation in Yemen, threats from jihadists and Iran.
During the summit, King Salman emphasized that it is necessary for them to confront the external threat [referring to Iran] that “aims to expand control and impose its hegemony” threatening regional stability and creating “sectarian sedition.”
Saudi Arabia led a coalition of Arab nations that conducted airstrikes against the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthis ousted Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and took over the main parts of the country. The Saudi-led coalition was called “Operation Decisive Storm.”
Iran criticized Saudi Arabia’s military intervention, which will only lead Yemen to a deeper turmoil and reduce the chances for a peaceful resolution. Iran also emphasized that the military operation wouldn’t help a region already confronting threats from groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Lt. Col. Rick Francona, a military analyst for CNN suggested that Saudi Arabia believes that the Houthi rebels are Iran’s proxies for its Shiite government and does not want to see another Shite-dominate state in the Middle East.
According to the United Nations, at least 1,200 people were killed in Yemen since March 19, and issued a repeated warning that the country is experiencing a major humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia-led coalition creates evacuation and humanitarian aid operations
King Salman said the Saudi Arabia-led coalition established a Committee of Evacuation and Humanitarian aid operations for Yemen. The King invited the United Nations to join the coalition’s relief work for the impoverished and war-torn country.
“We hope that the United Nations will participate effectively with what this center will shoulder, including coordinating all humanitarian and relief works for the Yemeni people with the participation of the countries that are supporting the Gulf initiative,” said King Salman.
The King emphasized that Saudi Arabia and its partners in the coalition were committed to supporting Yemen by all means. He added that the rebel leaders in Yemen rejected the initiative of the GCC to end the turmoil in Yemen.
Pres. Hollande assured support for Gulf nations
President Hollande was the first Western leader to attend the GCC summit. According to him, France shares the dangers confronting the Gulf nations and assured his country’s support.
Hollande said he attended the summit to “to affirm the commitment of France to be by your side.” He added that France supports the Operation Decisive Storm’s efforts to “ensure the stability of Yemen.”
France is strengthening it’s economic and political relation with the Gulf nations. Hollande attended the GCC summit after the signing ceremony of a $7 billion deal between Qatar defense officials and Dassault, a French aerospace firm. Qatar
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on Tuesday that France and Saudi Arabia are also negotiating 20 economic projects worth “tens of billions of euros.”
Nuclear deal with Iran
Pres. Hollande and King Salman issued a joint statement indicating that any major agreement between Iran and major powers must ensure that it will not destabilize the region further. It must also ensure that the agreement will not threaten Iran’s neighbors.
“France and Saudi Arabia confirmed the necessity to reach a robust, lasting, verifiable, undisputed and binding deal with Iran,” said Pres. Hollande and King Salman in the statement.
The leaders of the nations in the Gulf region were concerned that Iran could still develop a nuclear weapon under an international agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifting sanctions.
Pres. Hollande and King Salman also emphasized the importance of implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which demands rebels to withdraw from all areas, which they took over in Yemen since July 2014.