By MARK CHANDLER
Fears of World War 3 have increased in recent weeks amid a spiralling fallout between the Saudi monarchy and Tehran.
It came following the surprise resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a close ally of Riyadh.
At an emergency meeting in Cairo today, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir stepped up his rhetoric against the Islamic regime.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers criticised Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah at the emergency meeting warning they would not stand by in the face of Iranian interference in Arab affairs.
Jubeir said: “The kingdom will not stand by and will not hesitate to defend its security.
“Any leniency in dealing with their policies would only encourage them more, so we must stand together.”
Hariri resigned on November 4, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of spreading chaos in the region.
But Lebanese President Michel Aoun and other politicians accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage and claimed he had been coerced into resigning.
Saudi Arabia also accuses Hezbollah of a role in the launch of a missile towards Riyadh from Yemen this month. Iran denies accusations that it supplies Houthi forces there.
Today’s emergency Arab foreign ministers’ meeting was called at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss ways of confronting Iran.
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit told ministers that Arab nations would raise the matter with international organisations, including the UN Security Council.
He said: ”Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hit back at the accusations on state media today.
He said: ”Unfortunately countries like the Saudi regime are pursuing divisions and creating differences, and because of this they don’t see any results other than divisions.
After French intervention, Hariri flew to France and met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.
Hariri is due to arrive in Cairo for a visit on Tuesday.
Speaking in Paris, Hariri said he would clarify his position when he returns to Beirut in the coming days.
He also said he would take part in Lebanese independence day celebrations, which are scheduled for Wednesday.