Arab leaders voiced fears Wednesday (September 23rd) before the UN of new conflict in the region in view of Iran's continued violations of UN resolutions and its expansionist activities.
The annual extravaganza of international diplomacy at the UN General Assembly has been turned into a virtual affair this year, with leaders sending in recorded speeches due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Iraqi President Barham Saleh hinted in his address at frustration in Iraq with "anarchic" groups, whose rocket fire on US forces had prompted a drone strike in January that killed Iran's most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, as well as an Iraqi Shia paramilitary leader.
"Weapons must remain in the hands of Iraqi state institutions," Saleh said.
"We do not want Iraq to become a sort of playground for other forces that will kill each other on our territory," he said.
"We have witnessed enough wars and enough attacks on our sovereignty," he added.
Saleh also vowed to tackle rampant corruption, a key priority for Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi, who came to power after sweeping nationwide protests.
Saudis criticise Iran
Saudi Arabia's King Salman used his UN address to voice concern about Iran and pointed to drone attacks last year on the kingdom's oil fields, which Washington says were carried out by Tehran in violation of the arms embargo.
"The kingdom's hands were extended to Iran in peace with a positive and open attitude over the past decades, but to no avail," Salman said.
"The kingdom welcomed the international efforts to deal with Iran's nuclear programme, but time and again, the entire world witnessed how the Iranian regime exploited these efforts in order to intensify its expansionist activities," he said, accusing Iran of "terrorism".
US President Donald Trump has vowed to squeeze Iran, imposing sweeping economic sanctions and leaving a 2015 nuclear accord that was negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.
On Monday, Trump said he was enforcing UN sanctions for Iranian violations of an arms embargo.
Meanwhile, France seized on the UN General Assembly to drum up international support to form a government in Lebanon, which remains at an impasse nearly two months after a massive blast at the Beirut port.
But pro-Iran Shia militant groups Hizbullah and Amal are insisting on the finance ministry, a prize opposed by the US and Saudi Arabia.