Iranian boats shot by Saudi Arabia and forced to retreat

Three Iranian boats were shot at by Saudi Arabia and forced to retreat from its waters. Relations between the two countries has been rocky, with the US and UN accusing Iran of being in charge of the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Iranian boats shot

Saudi Arabia said Saturday three Iranian boats were “forced to retreat” from its waters after warning shots were fired, according to state media.

“At 6.30 pm (local time) on Thursday… the coastguard spotted three Iranian boats after they entered Saudi waters,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

 Iranian boats shot at by Saudi Arabia

The ships “refused to respond” to repeated warnings, after which “warning shots were fired… forcing them to retreat”, it added.

Read more: Iran in Syria: Sanctions, Economy & Coronavirus making it “Hard” to breathe

The report did not identify what kind of ships they were.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia terminated diplomatic relations with Shiite-dominated Iran following 2016 attacks by protesters on its missions in Iran after Riyadh executed revered Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Rocky relations between the two countries

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has been at odds with Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1979 ushered in a Shiite theocracy and set the two countries on a collision course.

They today stand on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen.

Tensions have risen in the last year after a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations, incidents that roiled global energy markets last year.

Both the United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind those attacks, a charge denied by Tehran.

Cruise missiles and drones used in attacks last year on Saudi Arabia were “of Iranian origin,” including components that had been made in Iran or exported there, according to a report by the UN Secretary-General.

The document, which covers the implementation of the 2015 UN nuclear accord with Iran and was seen by AFP on Friday, offers a detailed examination of debris from the weapons used in the attacks.

Read more: Attacks on Saudi Arabia: UN says arms were of Iranian origin

The strikes targeted a Saudi oil facility in Afif in May, the international airport at Abha in June and August and state oil giant Aramco’s processing facilities in Khurais and Abqaiq in September.

“The Secretariat assesses that the cruise missiles and/or parts thereof used in the four attacks are of Iranian origin,” the report by UN chief Antonio Guterres said.

France, Germany and Britain joined the United States in September last year in accusing Iran of carrying out the attacks.

The report draws on weapons seized by the United States off the coast of Yemen in November 2019 and February of this year which were likely destined for the country’s Huthi rebels.

Those weapons, or parts of them, were “of Iranian origin,” such as anti-tank missiles, or had been “delivered to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” such as optical weapons sights, the report said.

Items may have been transferred “in a manner inconsistent with resolution 2231” of 2015, the secretary-general said, noting that some of the seized weapons were identical or similar to parts recovered from the 2019 missile and drone attacks.

Iran denied involvement in attacks 

Iran formally denied any involvement and Guterres cites several exchanges with Tehran rejecting the charges.

In a letter addressed to Guterres from Iran’s UN delegation and dated May 22, Tehran said it had not been policy to export weapons “in violation of relevant arms embargoes of the Security Council.”

Read more: UN report: Iran denies allegation of Saudi Arabia attack

The Iranian mission to the UN stated on Saturday issued an statement. “Just hours after the attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14, 2019, the US baselessly attributed it to Iran, but has failed so far to present any shred of evidence. Now, it clutches at every straw to seemingly prove its allegation,” Iran responded to the US mission doubling down on the White House’s claim that Iran was involved in the September 14 twin attacks on facilities owned by Saudi oil giant Aramco in Abqaiq and Khureys.

In September last year, Yemeni Houthis took the responsibility for the attacks. It disrupted operations at the largest oil processing facility in the world namely, Abqaiq oil plant. Since 2015, Houthis are engaged in war with the ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi backed by the Saudi-led coalition. Immediately after the attacks took place, the US pointed the finger at Tehran without waiting for any fact-finding mission to be sent to the sites.

The US mission reiterated its allegations framing the report’s findings as a foregone conclusion. US mission says the recently released UN Yemen panel report concludes that Houthi forces were “unlikely” responsible for the bombing since the operation was too “complex” and the “estimated” range of weaponry the militants supposedly possess would not have allowed for such launches from the rebel-held territory.

In response to the report, Tehran pointed out that “nothing in that report validates the US allegation, which has already been rejected by Iran.”

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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