Al-Jubeir: KSA ground forces will target Daesh in Syria
Saudi forces participating in any US-led ground operation in Syria would focus on fighting the Daesh group, said Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
In an interview in Riyadh, Al-Jubeir also said separate Saudi-led military operations in Yemen would continue until the country’s government is fully restored to power and that the Kingdom would not cut oil production despite falling prices.
On Syria, Al-Jubeir said any participating Saudi force would make the battle against Daesh the priority, despite the Kingdom’s longstanding opposition to President Bashar Assad.
“Saudi Arabia has expressed its readiness to send special forces to Syria as part of the coalition, with the goal of eliminating Daesh. This is the mission and the responsibility,” he said.
“If they enter Syria, these forces will work in the framework of the international coalition to fight Daesh, there will be no unilateral operations,” he said.
Asked if the mission could be expanded to include operations against Assad’s forces, Al-Jubeir said: “This would be something the international coalition would have to make a decision on.”
Saudi Arabia has been part of the US-led coalition bombing Daesh terrorists in Syria and Iraq since late 2014.
“It’s a matter of time before the international coalition in Yemen succeeds in restoring the legitimate government… in control of all of Yemen’s territory,” he said.
“The support for the legitimate government will continue until the objectives are achieved or until an agreement is reached politically to achieve those objectives,” said the minister.
Al-Jubeir said the coalition had helped the government reclaim more than three-quarters of Yemeni territory, open up supply lines for aid and “put enough pressure on the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh for them to seriously consider a political process.”
He dismissed claims that Saudi Arabia was mired in the conflict.
“A very, very small part of our total military is involved in Yemen and it is not bogged down,” he said.
“If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia there is a need for Iran to change its behavior and to change its policies. Mere words will not do the job,” the minister said.
He also rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia feels abandoned by Washington following Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
“Absolutely not,” the former US ambassador said.
“I don’t see any reduction of that relationship. If anything I see a strengthening of that relationship as time goes by.”
On Tuesday Saudi Arabia agreed with non-OPEC member Russia to freeze output as long as major competitors follow, in an effort to stabilize the market.
“If other producers want to limit or agree to a freeze in terms of additional production that may have an impact on the market, but Saudi Arabia is not prepared to cut production,” Al-Jubeir said.