After arresting top leaders, Saudi Arabia threatens Iran & seals border with Yemen
A day after arresting top leaders including billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talalof, Saudi Arabia today sealed its border with Yemen and slammed Iran over its alleged backing of rebels in Yemen who had reportedly carried out a missile attack on Riyadh.
In a bid to tighten his hold over the country, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had launched a massive anti-corruption drive on Saturday arresting princes, ministers and businessmen. The Prince also swiftly replaced the Saudi National Guard head, including the navy chief and the economy minister.
"All those suspected... will have full access to legal resources, and the trials will be held in a timely and open manner," Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement.
"A great deal of evidence has already been gathered, and detailed questioning has taken place," the statement added.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia and Iran were involved in a spat after the Saudi government accused Tehran of backing rebels in Yemen and said it reserved the "right to respond" to the missile attack on Riyadh at the weekend, calling it a "blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which may amount to an act of war."
Saudi forces had intercepted a missile near Riyadh airport allegedly fired by Huthi rebels from Yemen. As a result, the Saudi coalition sealed off air, sea and land borders with Yemen on Monday.
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir tweeted saying: "Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighbouring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement on our national security."
"The kingdom reserves the right to respond in a timely manner to the hostile actions of the Iranian regime," the Saudi Arabian foreign minister said.
Iran, in turn, accused Saudi Arabia of "war crimes", AFP reported.
In a statement, Saudi Arabia said its borders were being closed "to fill the gaps in the inspection procedures which enable the continued smuggling of missiles and military equipment to the Huthi militias loyal to Iran in Yemen".
Despite the temporary closure of the air, sea and land ports, Saudi would protect "the entry and exit of relief and humanitarian personnel".
"The coalition... affirms the kingdom's right to respond to Iran at the appropriate time and in the appropriate form," it added.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that eleven princes, four current ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were arrested in an unprecedented anti-corruption drive over a 2009 probe in which Jeddah was hit by floods.
Finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said the crackdown "heralds a new era and policy of transparency, clarity and accountability".
The Saudi stock index was down 1.1 per cent in early trade, and Al Tayyar Travel plunged 10 per cent in the opening minutes.
Shares in Kingdom Holding, 95 per cent of which is owned by Prince Al-Waleed fell sharply on Monday as the news reverberated across the world.