RIYADH, Jan 9, (Agencies): The GCC Ministerial Council (Foreign Ministers) on Saturday denounced Iran’s “blatant interference” in the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia. The Council’s 42nd extraordinary meeting held in Riyadh today voiced support to the measures the Kingdom took to fi ght terrorism, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told a press conference together with the bloc’s Secretary General Abdulatif Al-Zayani. Al-Jubeir said that the GCC Foreign Ministers had concluded a unifi ed view regarding the recent aggression on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran, noting that they discussed the issue “deeply.” He noted that the Iranian aggression is rejected by all international conventions and charters.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League will “take the proper stance toward the Iranian aggression,” he said, adding that the GCC and Saudi Arabia had managed to “formulate a resolution at the UN Security Council.” Extra measures will be considered in case Iran carries on with its aggression, he stressed. According to the Saudi Foreign Minister, Iran has a “copious record of blatant aggression on embassies, and interference in the internal affairs of its neighbors.” Iran has to choose, either the “logic of a state or that of a revolution,” and has to identify the nature of its policies toward neighboring countries, Al-Jubeir said. Referring to regional developments, he said that they would carry on with efforts seeking a political solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with Geneva I. He added that they are also committed to supporting the legitimate government in Yemen, stating that Iran still supports the Houthi militants in the country.
The GCC condemns the Iranian aggression and holds Tehran responsible for it, the bloc’s Secretary General Abdulatif Al-Zayani told the conference. Al-Zayani added that the GCC “condemns Iran’s blatant intervention in the Saudi internal affairs.” He reiterated the GCC backing of the Kingdom, lauding independence of the Saudi judiciary. Al-Zayani urged the international community to take firm measures to avoid any further aggression, calling for an end to Iran’s occupation of the UAE’s three islands. Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb. He also demanded Iran to stop intervention in the internal affairs of other countries and to halt its support to terrorism.
The GCC stance is obvious, and the issue will be discussed in Cairo on Sunday. Al-Zayani was referring to a meeting due Sunday for the Arab foreign Ministers at the Arab League in the Egyptian capital. Last Sunday, Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic relations with Iran following protestors’ aggression on the Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad. The Kuwaiti delegation to today’s Riyadh extraordinary meeting was led by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
It included Assistant Foreign Minister for Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled’s Office Ambassador Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, Assistant Foreign Minister for GCC Affairs Ambassador Naser Al-Mezayyen and Kuwait’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Sheikh Thamer Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, as well as senior officials from the ministry.
Saudi Arabia may take further measures against Iran after cutting ties with its regional rival this week, the Saudi foreign minister said on Saturday, in a major row over the kingdom’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric. Adel al-Jubeir’s comments came in a press conference after an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), convened to discuss tensions with Iran after attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions there. “We are looking at additional measures to be taken if it (Iran) continues with its current policies,” Jubeir said, without elaborating on what these measures could be.
The crisis between conservative Sunni kingdom and Shi’ite power Iran, both major oil exporters, started when Saudi Arabia executed Shi’ite cleric Nimr al- Nimr on Jan 2, triggering outrage among Shi’ites across the Middle East. In Iran, protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, prompting Riyadh to sever relations. Tehran cut all commercial ties with Riyadh, and banned pilgrims from travelling to Makkah. “The escalation is coming from Iran, not from Saudi Arabia or the GCC …. We are evaluating Iran’s moves and taking steps to counter them..things will be clearer in the near future,” Jubeir said.
After the meeting the GCC, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, condemned what they said was Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia and the region. Jubeir also said his country had asked the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, of which Iran is a member, to convene an extraordinary meeting to discuss the aggression against its embassy.
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister has complained to the United Nations about Saudi Arabia’s “provocations” towards Tehran, as a diplomatic crisis between the region’s two major powers entered its second week. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon published by Iranian news agencies on Saturday, Mohammad Javad Zarif said “some people” in Riyadh seemed bent on dragging the whole region into crisis.
The two powers, both major oil exporters, have been locked in a diplomatic battle since Saudi Arabia executed Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan 2. Iranian protesters then stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, prompting Riyadh to sever relations.
Zarif said Iran had “no desire” to escalate tensions further, but offered no compromise as he placed the blame for the crisis, and the wider turmoil across the region, squarely on Saudi shoulders. “They (the Saudis) can continue to support extremist terrorists and promote sectarian hatred, or choose the path of good neighbourliness and play a constructive role in regional security,” state news agency IRNA quoted Zarif’s letter as saying in Farsi.
Zarif said Sunni Saudi Arabia had engaged in a series of “direct provocations” towards Shi’ite Iran, including the execution of Nimr and what he described as “persistent mistreatment” of Iranian pilgrims visiting Makkah. Saudi Arabia says last week’s executions were a domestic matter, and that Iran is the country pursuing sectarian division by casting itself as the champion of Arab Shi’ites