Al-Jubeir: Yemen war in final stage
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has said that he sees the Yemen war nearing its end.
“I am confident that the Yemeni conflict has entered its final stage, and I’m optimistic,” he said.
“There are indications that the war in Yemen is entering a final phase. The legitimate government forces are now in control of the vast majority of Yemeni territory. There still remain some areas that need to be liberated including Sanaa, but the trend is moving in the right direction,” said the minister.
“The Houthis and the Yemenis have every right to be part of the Yemen political process, we have said that from the very beginning. The only thing they cannot have is a privileged position because that would distinguish them from other Yemenis and that would not be fair. And they cannot have a militia outside of the institutions of the state,” he added.
Speaking at the Manama Dialogue security conference on Saturday, Al-Jubeir said: “GCC is a young, vibrant region. Anyone who bets against the GCC is bound to lose.”
Syria dominated discussions at the gathering of Western and Arab officials in Manama.
The minister said that the timing of the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the withdrawal of foreign fighters remain the sticking points to finding a lasting resolution to the civil war in Syria.
“Once Assad is gone, Daesh will be no more than a terrorist organization and easily extinguished,” he said.
Al-Jubeir’s remarks came just hours after Saudi Arabia, US, Russia and more than a dozen other countries agreed to pursue a new peace effort involving Syria’s government and opposition groups.
Al-Jubeir downplayed the significance of what had been achieved at the talks in Vienna, declaring in Bahrain that “We have not been able to reach an agreement.”
He said Saudi Arabia’s policy toward Syria has not changed, and that it would continue to support what he called the moderate Syrian opposition.
He described the presence of foreign forces, particularly Iranian, as a roadblock to ending the fighting.
Al-Jubeir also made clear that the negotiations had done nothing to change Saudi Arabia’s position that Assad must go.
“Ideally he should leave this afternoon. The sooner the better,” Al-Jubeir said.
“For us without Assad’s departure, there is no solution for the Syrian problems,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Russia and Iran must agree to a date and means for Assad to quit the country, and agree to withdraw all foreign forces from Syria, Al-Jubeir said in an interview with Sky News Arabia.
Al-Jubeir said the Vienna talks, which will resume within two weeks, would show how serious Assad and Iran and Russia were in seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis.
“Our two points where we differ from them are on a date and means for Assad’s departure, and the second point is on a date and means for the withdrawal of foreign forces, especially Iranian ones. These are the two basic points without which there can be no solution,” he said.
Al-Jubeir also voiced hoped that Iran would use its additional revenue after sanctions on it were lifted following its nuclear deal with world powers to develop its economy “rather than for aggressive policies.”
Saudi Arabia has characterized Assad’s use of air power and artillery in Syrian cities as genocidal and has described the presence of Iranian military forces and ShiiteIraqi and Lebanese militia in Syria as a foreign occupation.