Paris, 24 Jan. (IPS) In an interview with the French daily “Le Figaro” (centre right), Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud al Faysal openly warned Iran against intervening in the Arab’s affairs.
“We speak with Iranian about Arab’s affairs. We think that it is dangerous to interfere into our affairs. Therefore, we express to Iranians our concerns about their influence in the Arab world. It is logical. But when other countries speak to them about our problems, that confer legitimacy to the Iranian interferences in the Arab world. This is why we are not favorable. We hope that Iran will be a good neighbor, that the Iranians will be a part of the solution and not the problem. It is what we repeat to them: you do not interfere with our affairs”.
It is what we repeat to the Iranians: you do not interfere with our affairs”.
The Saudi top diplomat, due in Paris to take part in the so-called “Paris-3” conference on Lebanon to start as Thursday with the participation of the general secretaries of the United Nations and the Arab League, foreign affairs ministers and high-ranking representatives from 36 nations as well as 10 international banking and financial institution, was answering a question about France’s idea to dispatch a high-ranking emissary to Tehran.
The original decision, dating back to the immediate aftermath of the Israeli Attack on Lebanon and said to belong to France’s lamed President Jacques Chirac, was to send the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy to Tehran to discuss Lebanon, where Iran has a great influence on the Shi’a-based Hezbollah Organisation, in the one hand and to “encourage” Iran to comply with the international demand for stopping its nuclear activities.
But on strong opposition and objection from diplomats within the ministry, in the entourage of the president, the United States and France’s partners in the European Union, Mr. Chirac decided to replace Mr. Douste-Blazy by a high-ranking diplomat.
But this tentative was also shelved after influential Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt strongly rejected it.
The Prince opposed a military strike on Iran in order to counter what the paper described as “the Iranian nuclear ambitions, observing that the conflict with Iran is “political and must be solved by diplomacy”.
“The military option must remain the ultimate option; the force cannot justify an aggression aiming at ensuring hegemony. It would be a mistake of undertaking a military action against Iran, especially when there is a common denominator between the European negotiators and Iran, namely the respect of the protocol of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that in the final analysis the only question still outstanding is enrichment (of uranium by Iran)”.
“I am sure that there are still many possibilities of solving this disagreement diplomatically. One of them is to establish an international consortium between the countries of the area under the supervision of the IAEA, a consortium which could be placed in a neutral country, even out of the Middle East, with all the guarantees that a nuclear program would not be diverted to military ends”, he said.
The proposal advanced by the Saudi Minister is very similar to the one that is under consideration, based on the creation of an international consortium in Russia for producing nuclear fuel for the future Iranian nuclear plants.
But informed sources disclosed to Iran Press Service that in order to get out of the path of the Security Council of the United Nations, which last month decided sanctions against Tehran if it does not stop nuclear activities within two months, the Iranian leadership is considering to offer a new proposal to the 5+1, namely the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany to create an international consortium inside Iran itself for the production of nuclear fuel.
Turning to the situation in Iraq, where religious and ethnic rivalries are tearing the country into the brink of partition in separate Shi’a, Sunni and Kurd zones, Mr. Faysal said a partition of Iraq is “inconceivable” for his country.
The military option must remain the ultimate option; the force cannot justify an aggression aiming at ensuring hegemony.
“It is essential to avoid it. This bursting would initially be against the Iraqis, who had experienced decades of conflict. We do all we can so that the Iraqis, Sunnites, Shi’ites and the Kurds cooperate together. From Iraq, Al-Qa’ida threatens not only Saudi Arabia but also the whole of the region. This is why we militate for an Arab solution in Iraq. So that the Iraqis do not need more to join Al-Qa’ida”.
Asked whether the stability of Lebanon is threatened by Iran, which supports the Hezbollah in its attempt to reverse the government of Fouad Siniora, the Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister said if the Lebanese are left between them, will arrive to a solution to the crisis. “But if others seek to export their battle in Lebanon, the situation will become complicated. Hezbollah is subjected to many pressures, in particular from outside. It is initially a Lebanese organization, and thus it considered itself. But others are not of this opinion. There is a debate. We do not know yet which tendency will carry it”.
To the question of “why does Saudi Arabia, which will be the first contributor of the conference tomorrow on Lebanon in Paris, attach as much importance to the country of the Cedar?”, Prince Faysal noted that Lebanon is the place where various confessions cohabit in peace since the end of the civil war.
“This is a single country in the Middle East. It is a live example that the Sunnites and the Shi’ites can live together. But today its stability is threatened by external interventions. This is why France and Saudi Arabia recognize that while taking part in its reconstruction, we achieve an invaluable gesture for all Middle East. We did not await the conference of Paris to help Beirut. Since the war (of 2006), we offered three billion dollars to Lebanon and, tomorrow, we will announce a new help”. ENDS SAUDI IRAN 24107