Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have sent 95 tons of humanitarian aid to their rival Iran as it reels from deadly floods, officials said on Thursday, after Tehran complained U.S. sanctions were obstructing relief.
“The Saudi Red Crescent, as part of a joint Saudi-U.A.E. initiative to alleviate the suffering of Iranian citizens, has dispatched a relief plane to Tehran with 95 tons of humanitarian aid to support those affected by floods,” the official Saudi Press Agency said. The aid, which includes food and shelter material, was authorized by Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince, it added.
The Emirates Red Crescent was also involved in the relief operation, the U.A.E.’s official WAM news agency said.
At least 76 people have died in Iran after torrential rainfall, which has also caused billions of dollars worth of damage since March 19.
Iran’s Red Crescent has repeatedly complained that U.S. banking sanctions re-imposed last year make it impossible to receive donations from outside the country.
U.S. President Donald Trump last year withdrew Washington from a multilateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, later re-imposing sanctions focusing on oil exports and financial transactions.
Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Shia-dominated Iran have a longstanding rivalry based as much on geostrategic interests as religious differences. Facing off across the Gulf, the two major oil producers have taken opposing sides for decades in conflicts across the Middle East.
Riyadh broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran in 2016 in protest at the torching of its diplomatic missions by Iranian protesters angry over its execution of a leading Shia cleric.