Saudi soldiers reveal the remains of missiles, that a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia claim are Iranian during a press conference at the Armed Forces club in Riyadh on March 26, 2018. AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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A missile attack this week on Riyadh has raised the risk of an escalation in the Yemen war in a region riven with interwoven conflicts, but a direct confrontation between arch-foes Saudi Arabia and Iran still appears unlikely. Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, now touring the United States, must balance animosity toward Iran with the need for stability as he pitches the kingdom's economic transformation plan to foreign investors and drums up support for containing Iran's regional influence. A day earlier the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of using Iranian-made missiles and said that Saudi Arabia reserved the right to respond to Iran when and how it deemed appropriate.Iran has repeatedly denied giving missiles to the Houthis.The Yemen conflict pits a coalition of Western-friendly states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Houthis, who are sympathetic to Iran but deny being a pawn of its Shiite Muslim theocracy.The United Nations says more than 10,000 people have died in the war, and 22.2 million Yemenis – three-quarters of the population – need relief aid.An intensification of the Yemen conflict and certainly an escalation to direct conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia could scare off foreign investors.
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