Saudi Arabia has followed its break in diplomatic relations with Iran with a blunt warning that further provocations from Tehran could invite attack from the Saudis' new Chinese-made missiles. These are bold steps from a country long known for its cautious conduct of foreign relations, not least as regards its revolutionary neighbor across the Persian Gulf. King Fahd and his advisers clearly believe that such boldness has become obligatory if a repetition of last summer's rioting by Iranian pilgrims in the holy city of Mecca is to be prevented.
Certainly Iran has done nothing to reassure or conciliate the Saudis. After last July's rioting Tehran called on Muslims everywhere to help overthrow the Saudi royal family and put an end to its custodianship of the Islamic shrines in Mecca, birthplace of the prophet Mohammed, and Medina, the site of his tomb. This year Tehran announced it would again insist on sending 150,000 Iranians to Mecca and again demanded that they be free to demonstrate against the United States and Israel. The Saudis said they would permit perhaps no more than 45,000 pilgrims from Iran. Iran showed its displeasure by attacks on Saudi shipping in the gulf and acts of sabotage against Saudi property elsewhere. The break in relations followed.