US president’s direct threat comes after Tehran says it opposes war and no country has ‘illusion’ it can confront it.
Qatar has not received an invitation to two summits, a foreign ministry official said, in apparent reference to emergency meetings of Gulf and Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia earmarked for this month after attacks on Saudi oil assets.
On Sunday, Saudi King Salman proposed holding the two summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss the implications of last week’s drone attacks on oil installations in the kingdom and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
“Qatar, which is still isolated from its neighbours, did not receive an invitation to attend the two summits,” the director of the Foreign Ministry Information Office said in a tweet on Monday, citing State Minister for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad al-Muraikhi.
Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering last week’s drone attacks on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen’s Houthi group.
Iran denied it was behind the attacks and a senior Iranian military commander was quoted as saying his country is not looking for war.
“The current critical circumstances entail a unified Arab and Gulf stance towards the besetting challenges and risks,” the UAE’s foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Qatar has been blockaded by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since June 2017. The quartet cut off diplomatic and economic ties after accusing Doha of having close ties with regional rival Iran and harbouring “terrorism” – allegations Qatar vehemently denies.
The recent tensions in the region have come against the backdrop of Washington tightening economic sanctions against Iran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement, and trying to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero.
The US has also beefed up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it said were Iranian threats to US troops and interests, but did not offer details of the nature of the threat.
Days after saying he was prepared for talks, US President Donald Trump issued a direct threat to Iran, suggesting that the Islamic republic will be destroyed if it attacks his country’s interests.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom wanted to avert war in the region but stood ready to respond with “all strength and determination” after last week’s attacks on Saudi oil assets.
“We want peace and stability in the region but we will not sit on our hands in light of the continuing Iranian attack,” said al-Jubeir.
“The ball is in Iran’s court and it is up to Iran to determine what its fate will be.”
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, downplayed the prospect of a new war in the region, saying Tehran opposed it and no party was under the “illusion” the Islamic republic could be confronted.
“We are certain … there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region,” Zarif told state-run news agency IRNA at the end of a visit to China.
Goaded by #B_Team, @realdonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won't "end Iran". #NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 20, 2019