Senior Saudi diplomat slams Iran nuclear deal, says it may be forced to act alone

Saudi envoy to UK claims in 'NY Times' op-ed that Western policies are threatening stability of Middle East.

December 18, 2013 11:21
2 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Saudi King Abdullah

kerry king abdullah 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A high-ranking Saudi diplomat criticized the West’s nuclear deal with Iran and lack of action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, saying that Saudi Arabia may be forced to act alone to maintain stability in the Middle East.

In an op-ed published in The New York Times on Wednesday, Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the Saudi ambassador to Britain, expressed his frustration at the West’s Middle East policy in unusually blunt language.

Nawaf wrote that Saudi Arabia has enormous responsibilities in the region and the world, both economically and politically, and they cannot stand by as Western countries cooperate with Iran and hesitate to use force in Syria.

“We will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners,” he wrote, adding that “the West has allowed one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization.”

Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, who previously served as a US deputy assistant secretary of defense and a senior director at the National Security Council, told The Jerusalem Post that “it is true that the Saudis face considerable operational and political limitations on what they can actually do.

“But having said that, it is not all talk. They have never been more disillusioned with American foreign policy, and they can be expected to go their own way on many issues, Iran and Syria first and foremost,” said Doran.

Nawaf cited the atrocities in Syria, which have claimed over 100,000 civilian deaths, and reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition.

Saudi Arabia also opposes Iran on countless fronts across the region, including their involvement in Syria and support of Assad.

“The foreign policy choices being made in some Western capitals risk the stability of the region and, potentially, the security of the whole Arab world,” Nawaf wrote.

“This means the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no choice but to become more assertive in international affairs: more determined than ever to stand up for the genuine stability our region so desperately needs.”

Saudi Arabia turned down a coveted UN Security Council seat in October to protest the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria. It was the first country elected to the position to turn it down.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally avoided big political statements, preferring to wield its influence as world’s top oil exporter, birthplace of Islam and chief Arab ally of the United States behind closed doors.

The Security Council has been paralyzed over the Syria conflict, with permanent members Russia and China repeatedly blocking measures to condemn Assad.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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