Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers, a top government body chaired by King Salman, announced tentative support Monday for the U.S.-led draft nuclear agreement with Iran.
In its statement, as carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the council “expressed hope that a final, binding and definitive agreement would be reached leading to the strengthening of security and stability in the region and the world.” (RELATED: 5 Ways The Iran Deal Could Go Sour, And One Sign Of Hope)
It also reasserted “the right of states of region in the peaceful use of nuclear energy… in line with the Arab League’s decision aimed at making the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”
The oil-rich Arab Sunni kingdom views Persian-speaking Shiite Iran as its chief rival for hegemony in the Middle East. In the past few weeks, top Saudi officials have suggested it would attempt to acquire a nuclear weapon if a potential agreement paves the way to a nuclear-armed Iran. (RELATED: What Would A Middle East Nuclear Arms Race Look Like?)
Furthermore, “the cabinet stressed that the promotion of security and stability in the region requires a commitment to the principles of good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries and respect of their sovereignty.”
That claim comes while Saudi Arabia is leading an international coalition of majority-Sunni countries to bomb the Houthis, a rebel group that has seized control of Yemen’s government, and which it considers to be aligned with Iran.
By pointing out the need for “good neighborliness” and “non-interference” in the Arab world, the Saudis are implicitly criticizing Iran’s attempts to exert influence in the region, including its support for Iraqi Shiite militias against the Islamic State terror group, for Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria and for Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. (RELATED: Hatchet-Wielding Lunatic Kills ISIS, Thrills Iran)
Iran’s “interference” also extends outside the Middle East. Most notably, two Iranians were arrested in 2011 for attempting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. Iran has also been linked to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires — a connection which Argentina’s president has recently been accused of attempting to conceal.
The Saudi cabinet’s statement apparently supersedes prior claims that a response by Arab states in the Persian Gulf would be forthcoming, and issued by the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council as a whole.
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