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Monday, April 16, 2018

Arab leaders meet to unify ranks with eye on Iran, Jerusalem

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia used its perch as host of an annual gathering of Arab leaders on Sunday to push for a unified stance against rival Iran as the regional powerhouses vie for the upper hand in wars in Syria and Yemen.
Saudi King Salman told leaders from across the 22-member Arab League that Iran was to blame for instability and meddling in the region. He said Yemeni rebel Houthis, backed by Iran, had fired 116 missiles at the kingdom since Saudi Arabia went to war in Yemen three years ago to try and roll back Houthi gains there.
The summit took place in the oil-rich eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, a location that may have been selected by the kingdom to avoid cross-border Houthi missile strikes that have targeted the capital, Riyadh, and southern border cities.
While locked in proxy conflicts in Yemen and Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran also back opposing groups in Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq.
The summit this year takes place after the U.S., Britain and France launched dozens of strikes early Saturday at sites they said were linked to Syrian chemical weapons program. President Bashar Assad and his close ally, Russia, have denied government forces ever used such weapons.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said Assad's government and "international players trying to achieve their own strategic political goals" bear responsibility for the crisis there. READ MORE