White House condemns “Iranian aggression” against Saudi and Israel

Trump administration says the "reckless actions" of Tehran are destabilising the region

Israeli soldiers walk past tanks near the border with Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Three days after exiting the Iran nuclear deal, the White House condemned “Iranian aggression” against Saudi Arabia and Israel following two ballistic missiles targeting the Kingdom this week and rockets allegedly fired by Iranian proxies at the Golan Heights.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement on Friday accusing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of pouring “resources into exporting destabilising influence throughout the Middle East, even as the Iranian people are victims of a struggling economy”.

For the first time condemning attacks on Saudi and Israel in one statement, it said that the “IRGC has fired rockets at Israeli citizens, and Iran’s proxies in Yemen have launched a ballistic missile at Riyadh.”

These actions, it added, are “proof that the Iranian regime’s reckless actions pose a severe threat to regional peace and security.”

The statement called for responsible nations to bring pressure on Iran to change this “dangerous” behaviour.

Two ballistic missiles targeted Saudi Arabia this week. One was aimed at the capital Riyadh on Wednesday and one at Jazan on Friday. Both were intercepted, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Earlier this week, a senior US official told The National that Washington is “seeking a collective response” to counter Iran’s regional activities.

Also on Friday, Senior Director for Strategic Assessment at the national security council Victoria Coates hailed the US efforts in bringing the region together in countering Iran.

“It’s so important to see a Gulf nation, an Arab nation like Bahrain come out, recognise Israel as a country, which is something, and then a country that has the right to defend itself against a country like Iran” she said referencing a tweet by Bahrain’s foreign minister.

Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa tweeted on Thursday: “As long as Iran is disrupting the regional status quo and is encroaching on countries with its forces and missiles, then any country in the region, including Israel, has the right to defend itself and destroy the origin of the threat.”

Ms Coates said Mr Trump’s policies on issues of Iran and Israel “is not upsetting any regional balance; in fact, his leadership is what’s bringing the region together.”

Also Friday, Foreign Policy reported that Richard Johnson, the US acting assistant coordinator in the State Department’s Office of Iran Nuclear Implementation, has resigned his position.

The resignation appears to be a protest for US leaving the Iran deal. In his departing email, Mr Johnson wrote “I am proud to have played a small part in this work, particularly the extraordinary achievement of implementing the [deal] with Iran, which has clearly been successful in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he wrote.