Iran's recklessness has reached unprecedented levels

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.- AFP
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.- AFP

Iran as a threat to security and stability in the region.

Published: Sun 16 Jun 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 16 Jun 2019, 10:33 PM

Iran continues to stoke tensions in the region, says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. While the kingdom seeks peace, it is also prepared to counter any threat, he says in an interview to Ghassal Charbel of Asharq Al Awsat
Iran as a threat to security and stability in the region.
Saudi Arabia's stance is clear: It does not want a war in the region, but we will not hesitate in dealing with any threat against our people, sovereignty, and vital interests. Our priority is our national interest and achieving the aspirations of our people through the economic and social goals of the kingdom's Vision 2030 and through development, and economic and social reform. This demands a stable and enabling environment within the kingdom and region. The kingdom supports stability and peace, and has always sought to shun division, sectarianism and extremism.
The kingdom also plays an important role in the international community through its efforts to ensure that oil supplies pass through vital routes that surround it. We aim to protect the stability of the global economy. The world witnessed how we dealt with the Iranian tanker in the Red Sea. It was handled based on what our morals and principles and what international treaties and norms demand. In return, the Iranian regime and its proxies have carried out sabotage operations against four oil tankers near Fujairah port. Two of the tankers were Saudi. This confirms the approach followed by this regime.
We must not forget that Iranian regime had openly declared that its priority and main goal is to export the revolution of 1979. It seeks to achieve this at the expense of the aspirations of its people and the peoples of the region. The export of the revolution and Wilayat Al Faqih principle demand the destabilisation of countries and the region, stoking sectarianism, spreading extremism and dedicating the resources of the Iranian people towards financing and arming terrorist militias.
Despite this, the kingdom has constantly extended its hand for peace with Iran to avoid the horrors of wars and destruction. Saudi Arabia even supported the nuclear deal with Iran. Throughout our history, the kingdom has never spared an effort to resolve any crisis through diplomatic and peaceful means. We had hoped that the Iranian regime would have taken advantage of this initiative to change its behaviour towards the countries in the region and see it as a first step towards Iran's return to the international community as a normal state. Unfortunately, Iran misused the economic benefits of this deal to support its hostile acts in the region. It continued to violate international resolutions. It would have been better off dedicating the economic benefits in improving the lives of the Iranian people, developing infrastructure and achieving economic development instead of continuing its destructive behaviour in the region.
Iran's recklessness has reached unprecedented levels. After the nuclear pact, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' budget increased and it intensified its support for sectarian militias in the region and even the whole world. We have all seen how terrorist and hostile Iranian operations were recently thwarted in Europe. This is why the kingdom supported the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran. It did so out of our belief that the international community needed to take a decisive stance against Iran. It must also take the necessary measures to limit the regime's ability to spread chaos and destruction in the whole world.
Recent developments in the region, including the targeting of Aramco oil pumping stations by the Iran-backed Houthi militias, underscores the importance of our demand for the international community to take a decisive stance against an expansionist regime that has supported terrorism and spread death and destruction over the past decades not only in the region, but the whole world.
The choice is clear before Iran. Does it want to be a normal country that plays a constructive role in the international community or does it want to be a rogue state? We hope that the Iranian regime opts to become a normal country.
American help in defusing tension in Syria
We are in agreement on the objectives in Syria, which includes the defeat of Daesh, preventing the re-emergence of terrorist organisations, dealing with the destabilising Iranian influence in Syria, and using all possible means to achieve political transition according to Resolution 2254, in a manner that preserves Syria's unity. We are working with friendly countries to achieve these goals.
Japanese prime minister's visit to Iran
We thank the (Japanese) prime minister for his good intentions. The Iranian regime, however, did not respect the (Japanese) prime minister as a guest (in Iran) during his visit and in effect responded to his efforts by attacking the two oil tankers in the Gulf, one of which was apparently Japanese. It also employed its militias to carry out heinous attack on Abha Airport. This is clear evidence of the Iranian regime's policy and intentions. Iran is constantly escalating tensions in the region. It carries out terrorist attacks and immoral acts of aggression directly or through its militias. The problem lies in Tehran, not anywhere else. Iran must choose between becoming a normal country that plays a constructive role in the international community or remain a rogue state and assume the international consequences of its choice.
Yemen war and Houthi attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations
Many parties forget how the crisis in Yemen first broke out. The coalition operations began after the international community had exhausted all political means to iron out the differences between Yemeni parties and the Houthi militias. One must be reminded that the kingdom always supports political solution. It presented the GCC initiative and worked on achieving peaceful political transition in Yemen in 2011. It supported the national dialogue and presented over $7 billion in economic support for Yemen between 2012 and 2014. Since 2011, all efforts by the kingdom have been aligned to achieve smooth political transition in a manner that preserves the country's independence and sovereignty and unity of its political and security institutions to prevent it from slipping into chaos.
The Yemeni parties met in Riyadh and signed the GCC initiative and agreed to the implementation mechanism. All Yemeni parties, including the Houthis, were present at the comprehensive national dialogue.
Unfortunately, Iran obstructed the political process through its proxy Houthi militias, who started to occupy Yemeni cities and seize the state's various resources and capabilities. The kingdom offered all possible opportunities to resolve the situation through peaceful means, but Iran was following a policy of imposing a new reality in Arab countries with the force of arms. Unfortunately, the international community at the time did not confront Iran's expansionist and sectarian agenda. Iran therefore, continued to try, through its militias, to impose its control in Yemen. The Yemeni people and leadership, however, made a historic stand against this Iranian interference. Along with our brothers in the coalition, we responded immediately to the appeal of the legitimate government to protect Yemen and its people and our national security. The kingdom cannot accept the presence of militias operating outside the apparatus of states on our borders.
Most Yemeni territories have been liberated and we have supported all efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis. Unfortunately, the Houthi militias prioritise Iran's agenda over the interests of Yemen and its people. The militias do not care for the interests of the Yemeni people or any political process. Their actions reflect the priorities of Tehran, not Sanaa.
The Arab coalition's stance is very clear about resolving the crisis. We support efforts to reach a political solution based on UN Security Council resolution 2216, the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism, and national dialogue outcomes. We accept the participation of all Yemeni parties in the political process, but three issues should be addressed. The kingdom will not accept the militias to remain outside state control. We will pursue this ultimate goal and maintain our operations and continue on offering support to the Yemeni people in their effort to protect their independence and sovereignty despite our sacrifice. The kingdom will also maintain its humanitarian and economic relief in Yemen. We not only seek to liberate Yemen from the Iranian militias, but achieve prosperity and stability for all of the people of Yemen.
Dream to transform the Middle East into the new Europe
We must not become hostage to temporary conditions that prevent us from fulfilling our primary duty, as leaders in the region, of reviving our states. Today's challenges must also not prevent us from working promptly to achieve a better future.
Political upheaval is undoubtedly taking place in the region. At the same time, however, we must look at the overall Arab region and realise that the majority of the countries are unanimous in prioritising a dignified life for the people and achieving security and stability.
The source of political upheaval is well known. They are terrorist groups, such as Daesh, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and policies of the Iranian regime, the top sponsor of terrorism and extremism. We will not waste our time in offering partial solutions to extremism.
The kingdom is home of the two holy mosques. It has been blessed with natural resources, a strategic location, and wise leadership, and its great people. Today, the place is safe, secured and prosperous. It is unbecoming for this great nation not to occupy leading positions in all fields regardless of the conditions and challenges. We will not rest until we first achieve this goal for our nation and our brothers in the region.
Upheaval in Sudan and the political changes
We are greatly concerned with the security and stability of Sudan, not only due to the strategic importance of its location and danger of the collapse of its state institutions, but also the strong brotherly ties that bind us. Our brothers and sisters in Sudan have been and continue to be a part of our social fabric, they have contributed greatly to our progress in all fields. We will not spare any effort to achieve the security and stability for Sudan and its people. The kingdom has taken measures to support the brotherly people of Sudan, including an economic aid package and monetary support of $250 million to its central bank. We will continue to support until Sudan achieves the prosperity and progress it deserves.
Three years since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030
We have moved from the planning and design phase to implementation on all levels, and started seeing results. The financial sector, for example, has seen noteworthy progress. The Saudi market has joined three global indices, the FTSE, the Morgan Stanley (MSCI) Emerging Markets Index, and S&P Dow Jones Indices. This will pump capital worth billions into the market. The kingdom has seen a 40 per cent increase in investors in investment funds, a first since 2006. The kingdom has achieved the greatest leap among some of the world's most competitive countries in the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings 2019, ranking 26th, moving up 13 ranks compared to last year, and 7th among G20 member states.
What is happening is not simply a set of financial and economic reforms that aim to realise specific figures, but a comprehensive restructuring of the kingdom's macro-economy aimed at improving economic and development performance in the medium and long terms.
Ghassan Charbel is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al Awsat

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