First Published: 2017-12-08

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes
US Secretary of State says Saudi Arabia should be 'a bit more measured, a bit more thoughtful' in its approach to regional conflicts.
Middle East Online

US has begun calling for complete end to blockade of Yemen.

PARIS - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Saudi Arabia to take a more cautious approach to regional conflicts Friday amid growing concern over Riyadh's involvement in Yemen, Qatar and Lebanon.

"I think with respect to Saudi Arabia's engagement with Qatar, how they're handling the Yemen war that they're engaged in and the Lebanon situation I think we would encourage them to be bit more measured, a bit more thoughtful in those actions to, I think, fully consider the consequences," Tillerson said.

The Saudi kingdom is a close ally of the United States and hosted President Donald Trump's first foreign visit, and Washington supports Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's domestic economic reform and anti-corruption efforts.

But Saudi Arabia's young de facto leader has also embarked on an aggressive series of foreign policy adventures that have threatened regional stability, annoyed other US allies and complicated Washington's own policy goals.

This week, US anger boiled over, and Trump demanded that Saudi forces stop their blockade of shipping into Yemen -- where they are fighting Huthi rebels -- "for humanitarian reasons immediately".

Seven million people are believed to be on the brink of famine in Yemen and a cholera outbreak has caused more than 2,000 deaths -- but Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on its ports after a Huthi missile was fired toward Riyadh airport on November 4.

Tillerson, speaking at a news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, added more detail to Trump's demand.

"We have called for -- and President Trump himself called for this week -- a complete end to the blockade of Yemen and the reopening of all the ports," Tillerson said,

The opening should apply, he said, "to not just humanitarian assistance but commercial deliveries as well, because about 80 percent of the food comes in by commercial shipments. We are asking that Saudi Arabia allow that access."

Saudi Arabia also appears to have played a murky role in the recent political crisis in Lebanon, which began on November 4 when Lebanese premier Saad Hariri appeared on television in Riyadh to announce his resignation.

Hariri has since returned to office -- Tillerson met him on Friday in Paris -- but Bin Salman is thought to have pressured him to quit as part of his campaign against Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, part of Lebanon's coalition government.

Riyadh was also the driving force behind the breakdown in relations in June between Qatar and its neighbours. Despite it being a US ally and host of a major air base, Saudi Arabia accuses Qatar of complicity with Iran.

Tillerson supports Kuwaiti attempts to broker an end to the stand-off.

 

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan

Saudi to give Yemen government $2bn bailout