‘Riyadh executive arm of US in Mideast’

An Iranian lawmaker says Saudi Arabia acts as the “executive arm” of the United States to help Washington implement its policies in the Middle East.

“Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has turned into an executive arm of Washington’s policies in the Middle East,” a member of the Majlis (parliament) Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Abbas-Ali Mansouri-Arani said on Saturday.

On January 4, the UK newspaper Times quoted a US intelligence source as saying that some of the drone missions in Yemen were actually carried out by the Saudi Air Force.

However, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on January 5 denied the press reports, saying the country’s fighter jets had not attacked al-Qaeda targets in Yemen.

The Iranian legislator also said that Saudi Arabia has broad cooperation with CIA agents to carry out drone attacks in Yemen.

Mansouri-Arani said that the money, paid for Saudi oil, are spent on the implementation and promotion of the global arrogance’s policies.

He warned that cooperation between the US and any country in the Middle East can threaten regional security.

“Security in the Middle East will only be maintained through cooperation and interaction among regional countries and experience has shown that whenever foreign forces have entered the region, balance and security have been disturbed,” the lawmaker pointed out.

Yemen has been the scene of CIA-operated drone strikes over the past months. Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, but local officials and witnesses say civilians are the main victims.

Some reports say US assassination drone operations in the country nearly tripled in 2012 compared with the previous year.

It is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has sent warplanes over the Yemeni skies.

In 2009, Saudi troops and fighter jets were actively involved in Yemen’s military crackdown on Houthi Shias in the north of the country.

However, the latest revelation is feared to complicate the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government and the influential tribal leaders controlling large parts of Yemen, including areas where members of al-Qaeda are reportedly holed in.