Saudi king urges action against Iran, backs Yemen peace
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman urged the international community on Monday to halt Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and reiterated the kingdom’s support for UN efforts to end the war in Yemen.
The king’s annual remarks to the Shura Council, a top governmental advisory body, were his first public comments since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
King Salman condemned the actions of Iran, its rival for influence in the region, including in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“The Iranian regime has always intervened in the internal affairs of other countries, sponsored terrorism, created chaos and devastation in many countries in the region,” the 82-year-old monarch said.
“The international community has to work to put an end to the Iranian nuclear programme and stop its activities that threaten security and stability.”
The king said Riyadh supported UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-backed coalition has been battling Iran-aligned Houthi rebels for nearly four years to restore the internationally-recognised government.
“Our standing by Yemen was not an option but a duty to support the Yemeni people in confronting the aggression of Iranian-backed militias,” he said.
The Houthis said on Monday they were halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies, and indicated readiness for a broader ceasefire if the Saudi-led coalition “wants peace”.
The king had largely stepped back from active political life and handed extensive authority to his son and heir apparent, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but is now trying to defuse the crisis caused by the Khashoggi murder and shore up the crown prince.
Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, will participate in the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month as part of a foreign trip, Al Arabiya television quoted the country’s energy minister as saying on Monday.
In his speech, King Salman said Riyadh would continue working with OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers to maintain stability in global energy markets.
He reaffirmed Saudi support for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, a long-standing position thrown into question last year when the crown prince appeared to back a nascent US peace plan that aligns with Israel on key issues.
Later on Monday, the king travelled to the northern Tabuk region, resuming a domestic tour in the latest public outreach apparently intended to show support for his chosen heir.
On Monday the king signalled that the crown prince remains empowered to pursue ambitious economic reforms, praising a “comprehensive developmental transformation” underway. He directed his son, sitting in the hall, “to focus on … preparing the new generation for future jobs”.
King Salman also praised the Saudi judiciary and prosecution service for “performing the duties they were entrusted with”, without elaborating.