JEDDAH: Iran continues to pose a serious threat to the entire region and its aggression can no longer be tolerated, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said on Friday.
He told the Mediterranean Dialogue Conference in Rome that the regime in Tehran must be deprived of the tools it uses to endanger the region and the world.
“Iran believes in the principle of exporting its revolution and does not respect the sovereignty of states,” said Al-Jubeir. The regime is spending millions of dollars to build nuclear weapons but does not take care of its people, he said.
Nobody is suggesting a regime change, the minister said; the solution instead lies in more effective negotiations to agree an improved Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the so-called Iran nuclear deal), and halt Tehran’s interference in other countries and its support of terrorism.
Turning to the crisis in Yemen, Al-Jubeir said only a political solution will be effective. “The Houthis are the ones who started the war, not us,” he added, but stressed that they will not be excluded from the peace and recovery process.
“All Yemenis, including the Houthis, have a role in the future of Yemen,” he said. “We support the legitimate government and the creation of new institutions that can be representative of all Yemenis.”
In a series of tweets on the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account, Al-Jubeir addressed a number of other issues, including the regional dispute with Qatar.
“We have a common history with Qatar and we have a common destiny, but there are necessary steps that need to be taken,” he wrote.
Regarding the decision by the Trump administration to withdraw US forces from a number of countries in the region, Al-Jubeir noted: “While they redeploy from Iraq they’re sending more troops to Saudi Arabia. Their presence is welcome, because they’re our allies.”
Al-Jubeir’s strong criticism of Iran was echoed on Friday by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.
She said that Iranian security forces used “severe violence” to quell anti-government unrest last month, shooting at protesters from helicopters and a rooftop. They aimed for people’s heads and also fired at protesters as they ran away, she added, citing verified video footage.
Bachelet said the UN Human Rights Office has received information indicating that at least 208 people were killed, including 13 women and 12 children, during the demonstrations and at least 7,000 people arrested.
Iranian authorities this week confirmed for the first time that security forces killed demonstrators during what human rights groups have described as the deadliest anti-government unrest since 1979.
“All in all, the picture now emerging from Iran is extremely disturbing,” Bachelet said.