Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, talks to Saudi King Salman during a group picture ahead of Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, early Saturday, June 1, 2019. Muslim leaders from some 57 nations gathered in Islam's holiest city of Mecca late Friday to discuss a breadth of critical issues ranging from a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, to Palestinian statehood, the plight of Rohingya refugees and the growing threat of Islamophobia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
MECCA, June 1: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman slammed Iran over recent attacks targeting the kingdom, describing the incidents on Saturday in a speech before Muslim leaders gathered in Mecca as “terrorist acts” that threaten global energy supplies.
It was the monarch’s strongest words yet since tensions spiked in recent weeks between the two regional heavyweights.
Iran had a representative present at the 57-nation summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, but its top leadership did not attend.
The Islamic summit drew political figures and heads of state from countries spanning Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
They come with widely varying policies and priorities, but share a common reverence for the Al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem, known as the first “Qibla” because Muslims prayed toward it before the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca.
Despite sharp differences between OIC member-states on a gamut of issues, a final statement by the group stressed support for a future Palestinian state, as well as the rejection of any deal or plan that prolongs Israeli occupation and undermines the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The language stood in contradiction to the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of it as Israel’s capital, as well as a still undisclosed White House plan already rejected by the Palestinian leadership.
Glimpses of the plan suggest it sidelines or ignores the longstanding goal of Palestinian independence. A meeting next month in Bahrain aimed at rallying Arab economic support for the plan is being boycotted by the Palestinian Authority, but Saudi Arabia and the UAE are attending amid growing ties with Israel in the face of shared enemy Iran.
The U.S. recently sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf as tensions run high. The escalation stems from the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers last year and impose crippling economic sanctions on the country.
Speaking to leaders from OIC countries, King Salman opened the summit saying the world must fight the sources and funding of terrorism around the world.
He then said the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in past weeks represents a “grave danger” to the security of maritime traffic and regional security.
He blamed Iranian-backed terrorist militias of being behind a subsequent drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline.