RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s push for a tough stand against its arch-rival Iran is expected to dominate an Arab League summit on Sunday as regional tensions grow over the wars in Syria and Yemen.
The fate of Occupied al-Quds will also be on the summit’s agenda, as the United States prepares to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city after declaring it the capital of Israel.
Saudi Arabia, which is hosting the yearly summit in the Eastern Province city of Dhahran, is likely to seek Arab support to pile the pressure on Iran, analysts say.
"The Saudis are going to push for a much harsher stance on Iran -- not necessarily on the nuclear dossier per se, but on Iranian influence in the Arab countries, particularly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen," said Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Affairs.
Iran’s influence is wielded through a land route of armed parties in the Middle East -- the so-called "Crescent" that cuts across the mainly Sunni Arab world. Iran has long been a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and backs Lebanon’s Hizbullah movement, whose fighters are deployed in Syria alongside regime forces. Iran also openly supports the Huthi rebels in Yemen in their war against the Saudi-backed government but denies accusations of smuggling arms to the insurgents.