New York – A group of 11 concerned countries warned United Nations (UN) Member States about Iran’s expansionist policies, flagrant violations of the principle of sovereignty, and constant interference in the internal affairs of Arab States that are destabilizing and fomenting tension in the Middle East, in a letter delivered to the UN General Assembly. Co-signatories included Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
The group condemned Iran’s sponsoring of terrorism in the region, particularly in Yemen where it has financially, strategically, and militarily supported the Houthis. Moreover, Iran’s training of Houthi fighters and illegal shipments of weapons and ammunitions into Yemen are in blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 2216 (2015) and 2231 (2015), said the group. They also condemned the Houthi attack on a United Arab Emirates civilian vessel ‘Swift’ in the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb on 1 October, a clear violation of international law that the members of the UN Security Council considered a threat to freedom of navigation in the shipping passage.
The group highlighted that the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen was launched in response to the request for assistance from the Government of Yemen in full conformity with international law and the right to self-defense stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter. This request was noted in UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015). Led by Saudi Arabia, the Coalition’s purpose is to protect Yemen and its people from the continuing aggression of the Iran-backed Houthis and to help Yemen counter terrorism.
The group of co-signatories confirmed the importance of the work of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in achieving a comprehensive peace agreement to end the conflict in Yemen, in accordance with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, the National Dialogue Conference outcome and its implementation mechanism, and relevant Security Council Resolutions.
The group reiterated their resolve that any interference by Iran is unacceptable and must be confronted. The countries called on Iran to stop promoting regional insecurity, and stressed that “the stability and economic prosperity in the Arabian Gulf region is founded on the importance of maintaining good neighborliness and the principles of sovereignty, independence, and non-interference in domestic affairs.”
Regarding Iran’s other attempts to interfere in and disrupt the region beyond Yemen, the group deplored Iran’s exploitation of the tragic Mina incident for political gains and its stoking of sectarianism in the region, and confirmed the efforts of His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the custodian of the Holy Mosques. The letter also reaffirmed that the three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa in the Arabian Gulf are an integral part of Emirati territory, and called on Iran to return the occupied islands to their rightful owner. Though affirming support for the nuclear deal reached with Iran, the co-signatories highlighted that although this agreement provided an opportunity for Iran to develop normal relations with its neighbors and demonstrate a commitment to regional stability, Iranian aggression in the region has instead continued, along with Iran’s support for terrorist groups.
The letter to the UN General Assembly was in response to the right of reply made by a representative of Iran at the conclusion of the General Debate of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly on 26 September 2016. The text was endorsed by 11 countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Signed by each country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, the letter was sent to President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson, and was circulated to all 193 Member States of the United Nations.