Iran dispatched a naval destroyer and another vessel Wednesday to waters near Yemen, ratcheting up tensions with Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition to quash Houthis rebellion. The rebels, back by Iran, have deposed the US-backed Yemen President AbduRabbu Mansour Hadi and captured large swaths of territory in the embattled country in recent months.
Iran’s Chief of the Judiciary Sadeq Amoli Larijani warned Saudi Arabia to stop its “aggression” against Yemen or wait for “dire consequences.
“This blatant aggression of a government which claims [to be leading] Islam, against the Muslim people of another country who want to decide their fate will not remain unanswered,” Larijani told the Fars News Agency, referring to Saudi Arabia
“When naive individual decisions are made in a country that doesn’t have the least experience of democracy, has no parliament and no elections — the result will be the aggression of a state that claims to be the leader of Islam to another Muslim nation,” he said.
Iran’s English-language state broadcaster Press TV quoted Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the ships would be part of an anti-piracy campaign “safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region.
Iran has condemned the campaign and called for dialogue. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of providing military support to the Houthis, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.
The Iranian ships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, and the Red Sea, Sayyari said. The area is one of the world’s most important shipping routes and a gateway between Europe and the Middle East