Iran summons Saudi charge d’affaires in protest over air blockade
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran to protest against Riyadh’s interception of another Iranian aid flight to war-wracked Yemen.
According to Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s most senior diplomat in Tehran was summoned after Saudi fighter jets prevented an Iranian plane, which was carrying medical aid, from landing in the international airport in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.
Tehran expresses its strong objection to the move by Riyadh’s warplanes which endangered the lives of the flight crew and the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) staff on board, said a high-ranking official at Iran’s Foreign Ministry during his meeting with the Saudi diplomat.
The Iranian official rejected the interception of Tehran’s aid plane as totally unacceptable and said such an air blockade runs counter to humanitarian standards and international aviation rules.
He also called on Riyadh to immediately halt the inhumane siege of the Yemeni people and its unfair airstrikes on the Arab country, saying intra-Yemeni dialog is the only way to end the current political deadlock in the Arab country.
The Saudi move came after the Iranian Red Crescent Society had obtained the necessary permission to fly in the Oman-Yemen route and send a plane in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to fly Yemeni patients back to Iran and distribute medical aid to the injured in the impoverished Arab country.
Displaced Yemeni children look out of a man-made underground water tunnel where they are taking shelter after their houses were destroyed by Saudi airstrikes in the capital city of Sana’a, April 29, 2015. © AFP
The blocking of Iran’s civilian aircraft came just days after Saudi fighter jets intercepted an Iranian airplane carrying humanitarian aid and medicine as well as injured Yemenis, who had been treated in Iran, and prevented it from entering the Yemeni airspace. The plane was forced to turn back although it had obtained the necessary permission to fly along the Oman-Yemen route.
Saudi Arabia launched its aerial campaign against Yemen on March 26 – without a United Nations mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
On April 21, Riyadh announced the end of the first phase of its unlawful military operation, which claimed the lives of over 1,000 people. However, the airstrikes have continued, with Saudi bombers targeting different areas across the country.
The Saudi aggression against Yemen has claimed the lives of more than 100 children over the past month, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).