King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has threatened military strikes against Qatar in case the gulf country installs a Russian air defense system, French newspaper Le Monde reported.
Last year, the conservative kingdom cut all its diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations the country supported terrorism stemming out from ISIS and backing Iran’s Shi’ite-majority agenda.
In the past, the monarchy also ordered Qatari troops to be pulled from the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen, where it’s waging a brutal war that has killed scores of men, women and children.
Meanwhile, Qatar denied all the allegations.
In October 2017, Qatar and Russia signed an agreement about military and technical cooperation. The contract, paved way for better cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense.
Now, King Salman has reportedly warned Qatar to not install the mobile surface-to-air missile system.
“The Kingdom would be ready to take all the necessary measures to eliminate this defense system, including military action," Le Monde newspaper quoted King Salman as saying in a letter given to the French government.
He further said the missiles are of great concern to him as they pose a security threat to Saudi Arabia. He asked French President Emmanuel Macron for assistance, asking him to block the sale of the missile.
The Saudi government’s reaction is ironic considering Saudi Arabia also signed a preliminary deal to buy the very same air defense system from Russia during King Salman's "landmark" visit to Moscow last year.
“Russia has been for some years trying to build up a kind of trade relationship with Saudi Arabia but that has not really worked out at all," Russia-based defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told Al Jazeera. “Saudi Arabia has been clearly attaching political strings to any possible deal with buying Russians weapons ... that Russia should scale down its cooperation with Iran primarily and maybe modify its position in Syria.”
He added: “Qatar is not attaching such strings [and] Russia would not militarily try to get involved in anything that's happening in the Gulf ... in any case these anti-aircraft missiles, if they ever appear in Qatar, this won't be any time soon.”
It is important to mention the conservative kingdom is not the only one to have severed ties with Qatar, as Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also accused Doha of sponsoring terrorism.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court, Handout