Saudis Convening Summits in Mecca to Combat Iran amid Escalating U.S.-Iran Tensions

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C) chairs the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia is reportedly expected to convene an emergency summit in the holy city of Mecca on Thursday aimed at discussing recent “aggressions and their consequences” with top Gulf Arab leaders amid escalating military tensions between Iran and the United States.

Amid rising regional tensions, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and League of Arab States (LAS) leaders for emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences,” Prince Turki al-Faisal declared in an editorial published by Al-Arabiya.

On May 24, Radio Farda, a component of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) noted:

The Trump administration this month ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East, citing intelligence about possible Iranian preparations to attack U.S. forces or interests.

Commander-in-chief Donald Trump has also confirmed U.S. plans to deploy an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East to restrain Iran, bringing the number in the region to nearly 23,500 in addition to “65,622 American military and civilian personnel” operating in support of broader contingency operations,” the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported in mid-April.

Echoing the CRS, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) — charged with American military activity mainly in the Middle East and Afghanistan — “has between 60,000 and 80,000 troops deployed in the area,” the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency found Tuesday.

Growing tensions between Iran and the United States may overshadow the upcoming Mecca summits. The two countries have threatened military action against one another, with Tehran stepping up the ante by vowing to blockade the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which 35 percent of the world’s oil flows. Iran’s threat is a response to the wave of crippling economic sanctions and economic pressure from the United States, in turn, meant to curb Iran’s terrorist activity around the world.

In response to America’s threat of deploying additional troops, the U.S.-designated terrorist group known as the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has also declared it is not scared of confrontation with the United States.

On Tuesday, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, a spokesman for the Guard, told reporters the IRGC does not “support engaging in any war,” while at the same time it does not “fear the occurrence of war.”

“We have enough readiness to defend the country,” he further declared, claiming Iran has boosted its military power over the past 30 years.

Several assessments, including the annual Global Firepower Index, considers the U.S military the most potent in the world.

AFP reported on Tuesday:

The three [upcoming] summits in [Mecca] allow US ally Riyadh the chance to present unified Islamic, Arab and Gulf fronts against its arch-rival Tehran.

Iran itself has not yet confirmed whether it will attend the meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), of which it is a member.

The May 28 editorial disseminated by Al-Arabiya on behalf of Saudi Prince Turki al-Fais noted:

[Iranian reactions to American sanctions] threaten to drag the region into a new war. As calls for combat gather momentum, [Saudi] King Salman’s offers to discuss sorely needed initiatives to address Iranian interferences in the affairs of the Arab world stand as the ultimate attempt to avoid catastrophe.

In his editorial, the prince noted that he expects the Mecca summits to yield “frank discussions among allies, precisely to respond in a coordinated fashion to these [Iranian] interferences.”

“There is no better place on earth to hold such discussions than in the holy city of Mecca, just a few days before [end of Ramadan holiday] Eid al-Fitr 2019 dawns on the Muslim world,” the prince argued.

Despite claims by Iran and the U.S that they are not looking for war with one another, “Riyadh reaffirmed its readiness to defend itself and its interests with all force and determination if Tehran chose warfare,” Prince Fais wrote.

Riyadh, Washington, and Tel Aviv have all blasted Tehran for fomenting war, further destabilizing the Middle East and beyond with its ruthless IRGC and others affiliates — namely the Hezbollah narco-terrorist group that U.S. and Latin American authorities have linked money laundering and drug trafficking from the Western Hemisphere to Europe and Asia through Africa.

The Sunni kingdom’s goal of a unified Islamic, Arab, and Gulf position is likely to be difficult to achieve.

In his editorial, the Saudi prince acknowledged that Iranian threats to blockade shipping on the Straits of Hormuz “threaten to drag the region into a new war.”

“We can assume that the summits will witness frank discussions among allies, precisely to respond in a coordinated fashion to these interferences,” he observed.

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