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Dangerous escalation

Nov 21,2017 - Last updated at Nov 21,2017

In a declaration after the emergency meeting they convened in Cairo, Arab foreign ministers criticised Iran and its regional allies, notably Lebanon’s Hizbollah in Lebanon, and called for a united front to counter Iran’s interference in Arab affairs.

They accused Iran and Hizbollah of sponsoring acts of aggression that threaten the Arab order and said they would appeal to the UN Security Council for action against them. 

In a declaration after the ministers’ meeting, the Arab League accused Hizbollah of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles”.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said “Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss”.

Lebanon’s Arab League representative reportedly objected to the declaration accusing Hizbollah, which is part of Lebanon’s government and an ally of President Michel Aoun, of terrorism.

Saudi Arabia says Hizbollah is responsible for the launch of a missile over Riyadh from Yemen earlier this month, an accusation Hizbollah refutes. Iran also denies accusations that it supplies Houthi forces in Yemen.

The Arab League meeting in the Egyptian capital on Sunday came amid heightened tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and its allies, and Shiite Iran over Lebanon and the conflict in Yemen.

If cool heads do not prevail, the volley of accusations and counteraccusations could lead to more serious acts with potentially disastrous consequences.

An overwhelming number of Arab countries is solidly behind Riyadh in its open challenge of the increasing Iranian role and hegemony in the region. 

But while this solidarity is understood, extreme acts should not be hastily considered.

It is in the interest of all nations in this part of the world — tried for decades by wars and strife — to live in peace and harmony.

Tehran could surely be persuaded that its long-term interests lie with an improved Arab-Iranian relation based on mutual respect.

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