In a resolution long on rhetoric but short on concrete steps, Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo Sunday delivered a tirade of criticism against Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah, saying Tehran was destabilizing the region.
The Arab leaders said they planned to “brief” the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Iran’s destabilizing policies in the region, particularly its support for Shiite rebels in Yemen, with a view to submit at a later stage an anti-Iran Arab resolution.
In what is perhaps the only concrete measure, the ministers said Arab telecommunications satellites would ban Iranian-financed television stations for what they said was their fomenting of sectarian and ethnic tensions and because they posed a threat to Arab security. It gave no details.
“We are not declaring war on Iran at this stage,” Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said. “We have not taken a decision to ask the Security Council to meet, but we are just briefing the council and maybe the next stage would be for us to meet and call for a Security Council meeting and submit a draft Arab resolution (against Iran).”
Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a key member of a coalition government, and Iraq, a majority Shiite nation bound by close political and religious ties to Iran, stated their reservations about the harsher parts of the resolution, including one that branded Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization. The draft also blamed the Shiite group of supporting “terrorist groups” across the region and supplying them with weapons, including ballistic missiles.
The Lebanese envoy to the Arab League, Antoine Azzam, made carefully weighed comments at the meeting that reflected his country’s delicate religious and ethnic balance.
While not mentioning Iran by name, he said Lebanon condemned all attacks against Arab nations, but blamed exploitable inter-Arab divisions that allowed international and regional powers to promote their interests.
Saudi Arabia, a Sunni powerhouse, has significantly sharpened its anti-Iran rhetoric since its forces on Nov. 4 intercepted near its capital, Riyadh, a ballistic missile fired by Shiite rebels in Yemen who are allied with the Iranians. The Saudis said the missile was Iranian-made and declared the attack an act of war by the Iranians.
Iran denies arming the Yemeni rebels, known as the Houthis, who say they locally produced the missile
Saudi Arabia, through its foreign minister, asked fellow Arab nations to take a “serious and honest” stand against Iranian “aggression” and “meddling” in the internal affairs of Arab countries.