Deploying Saudi troops up to U.S. coalition: FM
Any decision by Saudi Arabia to deploy Special Forces into Syria is linked to the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Sunday.
“The Kingdom’s deployment of aircraft to the Incirlik air base in Turkey is part of this campaign. The kingdom’s readiness to provide special forces to any ground operations in Syria is linked to a decision to have a ground component to this coalition against Daesh [ISIS] in Syria – this U.S.-led coalition – so the timing is not up to us,” Jubeir told a news conference with his Swiss counterpart in Riyadh.
Jubeir made the statement in the same day Iran’s deputy chief of staff Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri warned Saudi Arabia in an interview with Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Aalam television against sending troops to Syria after the gulf kingdom deployed combat aircraft to Turkey.
Jubeir also said that Russia’s efforts to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not succeed in keeping him in power.
In the press conference in Riyadh, Jubeir said previous efforts to prop up Assad, including by Iran, had “failed.”
“Now, (Assad) has sought the help of Russia, which will fail to save him,” he said, urging Moscow to “end its air operations against the moderate Syrian opposition.”
Russia, Assad’s closest ally alongside Iran, began conducting airstrikes in September, targeting mainly rebels backed by the West, according to U.S. officials.
Analysts believe that Russia’s military intervention in Syria has given Assad a new lease of life and has also deeply alarmed the West.
But Jubeir, whose country is among the main Syrian opposition backers, said that “it is impossible for a man behind the killing of 300,000 innocent people… to remain” in power.
Assad’s departure “is a matter of time… sooner or later, this regime will fall, opening the way for building a new Syria without Bashar al-Assad,” said Jubeir.
He urged the Syrian regime to “immediately allow the entry of humanitarian assistance to all parts of Syria, end military attacks on innocent civilians… (and) begin a political transition in Syria.”
A 17-nation Syria Support Group, co-chaired by Russia and the United States, agreed on Friday to seek a “cessation of hostilities” within a week and dramatically ramp up humanitarian access to besieged towns.
Switzerland to manage Saudi affairs in Iran
Jubeir, meanwhile, said Switzerland will manage consular affairs of Riyadh in Iran and will facilitate Iranian pilgrims coming to the kingdom.
In early January, Saudi Arabia evacuated its staff after its embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad were attacked by Iranian protesters following the execution of a Saudi Shiite preacher along with 46 others.
The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the attacks.
Jubeir also said that mediation on Iran’s dispute is not required.