KSA: Tehran is occupying force in Syria
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has criticized Iran for its military and political interference in the regional states, which he said was destabilizing the Middle East, undermining peace efforts, and scuttling attempts to root out terror groups.
Addressing a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Jeddah on Monday, Prince Saud said: “They (the Iranians) are killing the Syrian people. They are spilling Syrian blood. They were invited to Syria by the Bashar Assad regime and since that regime has lost legitimacy, the Iranians are actually an occupying force in Syria now.”
He said Steinmeier had held talks with Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, on major international developments and ways to strengthen bilateral ties.
Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia had no problem with the people of Iran. “It is Iran’s interference — military and political — in neighboring countries that has created a huge mess,” he said. “Iran is part of the problem.”
Iran can join the international coalition against terrorism provided it gives up its support for terror groups, he said, referring to Tehran’s direct support and control of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen. “If Iran wants to be part of the solution, it has to pull its forces from Syria. The same applies elsewhere, whether in Yemen or Iraq,” he said.
Prince Saud said the Assad regime has been killing its own people for the last four years. “Assad cannot be trusted. His regime has opened its gates to foreign terrorists. Syria has become a nest of terrorists. This is threatening not just the neighboring countries but the entire international community,” he said.
Prince Saud said the fight against Islamic State (IS) cannot be confined to Iraq because the IS is using Syrian territory. “The IS is using Syria as a safe haven. Therefore, the campaign against IS in Iraq should be coupled with action in Syria as well.”
Prince Saud said the international anti-terror coalition’s efforts should not be restricted to a specific mission. “Its efforts should continue until terrorism is eradicated totally wherever it exists,” he said.
“We (Saudi Arabia and Germany) agreed on the need to shore up international efforts to find a quick solution to the Syrian crisis on the basis of the Geneva 1 declaration. We also share the view that Assad cannot be trusted, and could not be a part of the solution as he has lost his legitimacy,” the prince said.
He called for greater global efforts to end the Syrian crisis by setting up an interim authority based on Geneva 1.
Prince Saud said he had fruitful and constructive talks with the German minister, with a focus on strengthening cooperation within the framework of the Saudi-German Joint Commission.
The commission will hold its 19th meeting in Riyadh in March 2015.
Speaking about the conference for the reconstruction of Gaza in Cairo, he said the international community has shouldered the burden of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
“We call for a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including an independent state, which will be secure and good for living,” the prince said.
Referring to the situation in Yemen, the foreign minister stressed that Yemen with its diverse geographic and demographic set-up cannot achieve security and stability without the co-existence of the people based on equal rights.
“We appeal to the Yemenis of all denominations, political and religious, to let the language of reason prevail over the roar of weapons,” he said. “Let the national interest of Yemen prevail over narrow sectarian interests.”
Prince Saud urged the Yemenis not to serve the interests of foreign parties in the region “who do not wish good for Yemen or its people.”