KUWAIT CITY, Jan 5: Regional and international reactions surged against recent hostile acts by Iranian demonstrators on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and Consulate in Mashhad. Kuwait on Tuesday recalled its ambassador in Iran in protest against the storming and torching of the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran following the execution of 47 Saudi terror convicts in Saudi Arabia.
An official source at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry said in a statement that such acts constitute a flagrant breach of international conventions and violation of Iran’s international commitment over security and safety of diplomatic missions on its lands. Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Sulaiman Al-Jarallah also summoned Iran’s Ambassador in Kuwait Ali Reda Enayeti and handed him a written note of protest over the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Tehran and its Consulate in Mashhad. Al-Jarallah said in the protest note today that such acts represented a flagrant violation of international conventions and norms. He reiterated Kuwait’s condemnation of such flagrant violations, urging Iran to honor its international commitments towards the accredited diplomatic missions and protecting their staff.
Al-Jarallah pointed out that it is Iran’s responsibility to fully protect the foreign diplomatic missions in accordance with the international conventions regulating diplomatic and consular ties based on respect of sovereignty of states and noninterference in their internal affairs.
This, he maintained, would guarantee peace and security in the region and contribute to the consolidation of efforts aimed at building confidence among nations. Al-Jarallah reaffirmed Kuwait’s supportive stance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in all measures taken to safeguard its security and stability. Kuwait’s new move comes just one day after its cabinet strongly condemned “hostile acts” by Iranian protesters against the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran.
The cabinet stressed that these acts constitute a “blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 on States’ commitment to the protection of diplomatic missions and their premises, as well as the safety of staff. Holding the Iranian authorities fully responsible for the attacks on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran, the cabinet reaffirmed that Kuwait stands side by side with the Kingdom, supporting all measures Riyadh adopts to maintain its security and stability.
Several lawmakers have commended the decision of the government to recall the ambassador of Kuwait to Tehran after the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s embassy and consulate in Iran, saying the attacks are regarded as a violation of diplomatic customs and international conventions. They praised the government for sending a protest letter to the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait, while urging the authority to take a stronger stance against Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of GCC countries. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mubarak Al-Khreinej also lauded the Foreign Affairs Ministry for affirming that Kuwait fully supports Saudi Arabia.
He pointed out the Iranian authorities have failed to protect embassies and diplomatic corps in its territories. He said Kuwait’s stand on the attacks is a manifestation of its keenness to strengthen the unity of GCC countries in facing threats. He attributed the decisions to lessen diplomatic representation and sever diplomatic ties with Iran to the arrogance and irrational attitude of the Iranian side towards Arab Gulf nations. He hopes Iran gets back to its senses and respects the principle of good neighborhood rather than interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
MP Talal Al-Jalal said the government deserves commendation and appreciation for sending a strong message to Iran that the Gulf nations are one body and the attack on the Embassy of Saudi Arabia is an attack on all the embassies of GCC countries. He also praised National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim for his decision to call for a special session to discuss the attacks, affirming the Assembly will issue its own statement in this regard. He confirmed the people of Kuwait support all actions taken by Saudi Arabia to protect its security and to combat terrorism. He added all the GCC countries must take a unified stand against Iran.
MP Mansour Al-Zafiri asserted the current situation in the region entails that the lawmakers must express their opinions in accordance with the democratic principles and within the framework of proper dialogue. He also stressed the need for all lawmakers to fully support HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, especially this time when the entire region is facing a number of challenges. MP Ayed Al-Hajiri considers the decision to recall the ambassador of Kuwait to Iran an expression of Kuwait’s objection to the attacks, including the failure of Iran to protect embassies and their employees as per the international agreements.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Bader Al-Essa has formed a commission of inquiry to look into the allegation that some faculty members at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) are holding fake academic certificates. He disclosed about 270 people had earlier been referred to the Public Prosecution for presenting fake certificates, indicating most of them are working in the private sector.
On the allegation that some faculty members at Kuwait University are holding fake certificates, Essa stressed the ministry will follow up this issue and then update the Parliament to pave way for taking action against those proven to have violated the law. Earlier on Sunday, Kuwait sharply condemned attacks by Iranian demonstrators on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, and the Saudi Consulate in Mashhad, an official source at the Foreign Ministry said. Iranian authorities should shoulder responsibility for protecting the embassy and ensuring the safety of its staff, the source requested. Such attacks are a flagrant violation of Vienna Convention that requires States to protect and safeguard diplomatic missions and to ensure the safety of their staff, the source reminded.
The source called on Iranian authorities to abide by all international rules and norms which state the respect of States’ sovereignty and non-interference in their internal affairs. In addition, the source reiterated Kuwait’s support to all measures adopted by Saudi Arabia to maintain its security and stability.
On the Gulf level, GCC Foreign Ministers are set to hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the recent attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani announced on Tuesday. In a press statement, Al-Zayani said that meeting will be held in Riyadh under the Chairmanship of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir announced arrangements for meetings of the GCC and the Arab League, in addition to moves at the UN, on recent attacks on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran. He said during a joint press conference with his visiting Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry that the kingdom would do its best to promote the negative role played by Iran in the region and its violations of international laws and conventions.
On a Russian initiative to find a political solution between Riyadh and Tehran, Al-Jubeir said: “The violations and aggressive moves came from one party and not from the two parties.” The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over 35 years has not carried out any aggressive act against Iran; but Iran over the 35 years since the Iranian revolution has moved in a negative and aggressive way towards the Kingdom, interferes in the affairs of the region, supports terrorism, recruits people of this region to work against their societies, and smuggles weapons and explosives into countries in the region to destabilize the security situations in the region, and these matters are unacceptable, he said. “Iran incites for terrorism, violence and extremism, protects terrorists and people accused of terrorism and gives them Iranian passports, does not respect international laws or international norms in particular; as for the protection of diplomatic missions, the escalation, aggressive acts and evil all came from Iran, not from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying.
“Therefore, if Iran wants to have a positive and natural role in the region, it must desist from these acts of aggression and behave with the countries of the region such as do any countries seeking good-neighborliness, and it is up to Iran, its behavior and means taken by it, but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region welcome if Iran improves its behavior,” he added.
On his part, the Egyptian foreign minister said during the press conference: “We made a decision to cut ties with Iran 27 years ago because of the situation at that time, and see in this interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom as rejected and nor approved by any of the international laws and norms; and thus we find in the Kingdom’s decision what meets its sovereignty and interests.” “We have stressed many times that we stand with the firm position that we are working with our brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to be endorsed and confirmed on every occasion that the Kingdom’s security is an integral part of Egypt’s security and Egypt’s security is an integral part of the security of the Kingdom,” he added.
Internationally, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemned in the strongest terms the attacks on the Saudi embassy and its consulate in Tehran, calling on the Iranian government to take the necessary steps to protect diplomatic missions in Iran. A statement by the UNSC Monday said that the UN conventions associated with the protection of diplomatic missions made it mandatory on Iran to provide security for foreign diplomats on its lands.
Saudi’s permanent delegate to the UN headquarters Abdallah bin Yahya Al-Moallim called on the UNSC to take the necessary steps to ensure that Iran abides by international laws concerning the protection of diplomatic personnel. As a result of the attacks, Riyadh had severed diplomatic ties with Tehran, he said.
In Malaysia, the Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks that took place against the Saudi embassy and its missions in Iran, after local demonstrators trashed the buildings. The Malaysian Foreign Ministry expressed in a statement its concerns over the recent developments in the Middle East region, after Saudi Arabia and a number of countries severed their diplomatic ties with Iran. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman condemned demonstrators’ outrageous behaviors and urged the Iranian authorities to protect diplomatic missions’ headquarters in their country, in accordance to Vienna Convention of 1961.
Iranian authorities should go after the mastermind behind these attacks, Aman stressed. In Japan, the top government spokesperson expressed concern over mounting tensions in the Middle East, following a breakdown in diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. “We are concerned about worsened relations between some Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Iran,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference. “Japan urges all relevant parties to exercise self-restraint, calm the situation and resolve the issue peacefully,” Suga said. Similarly, Indonesia is seeking to mediate the Saudi-Iranian tense situation after Riyadh announced its decision to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that in an attempt to “solve the dispute peacefully,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi contacted the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Ameen Madani, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
He called on all disputed parties to “exercise self-restraint and avoid any actions that might escalate the problem.” In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry criticized attacks on Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran, describing it as a new Iranian “failure,” to protect diplomats and their properties. German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said on Tuesday in a press conference that his government is worried about this attack since it violated “international laws.” Saudi Arabia’s Sunni-ruled but Shiitemajority ally Bahrain followed Riyadh’s suit on Tuesday and cut all air links with Iran across the Gulf, official media reported. The decision comes a day after Manama broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran amid an escalating crisis between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic republic over the execution of a Shiite cleric. The official BNA news agency said on its Twitter account that the kingdom’s civil aviation authority had “decided to stop flights to and from Iran”.
Saudi Arabia and Iran owe it to the international community to put aside their differences in the Middle East and focus on opposing Islamic State, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told newspaper Bild. Saudi Arabia cut its ties with Iran on Sunday in response to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row between the rival Middle East powers over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric. Steinmeier urged both countries to show responsibility and focus on calming the region and opposing the radical Islamist movement he referred to by the acronym ISIS. “I hope that the turbulence will soon end, reason prevails and Riyadh and Tehran focus on what’s really important – defusing the military conflicts, fostering political solutions in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere and thus pulling the rug out from under ISIS,” he told Bild in an interview published on Tuesday. “The whole Middle East, and especially Saudi Arabia and Iran, are somewhat indebted to us,” he said. “The international community has worked extensively for years to bring peace to the interrelated conflicts in the region.” A source at the German foreign ministry said Steinmeier had held telephone conversations with both his Saudi and his Iranian counterparts on Tuesday and had urged them to prevent tensions escalating further.
Concerned that inflamed tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia may threaten key foreign policy objectives in Iraq and Syria, among other places, the Obama administration toed a careful line Monday in seeking to calm a diplomatic storm that many fear could lead the longtime regional rivals to direct sectarian conflict. The White House and State Department both appealed to Riyadh and Tehran to show restraint and avoid further exacerbating the rift between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-ruled Iran.
However, officials said the administration is loath to insert itself but wants to ensure the viability of the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, nascent attempts to end Syria’s civil war, peace efforts in Yemen and the Iran nuclear deal. “We don’t want to see any progress that has been made or may be made on those issues affected by this, which is why (we) have been in communication with leaders there, to try to get tensions calmed down, to try to get dialogue started or restarted so that we can focus on these other very pressing issues in the region,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and on Monday with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Kirby said. Kerry also planned a round of calls Monday to the foreign ministers of all the Sunni-led states in the Gulf region, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, officials said.
Bahrain followed Saudi Arabia’s lead and severed diplomatic ties with Iran, while the UAE downgraded its diplomatic relations with it, after mobs attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran following the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. In addition to Kerry, other senior US diplomats were in close contact with Saudi and Arab officials over the weekend, according to the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to the delicate diplomacy.
Yet, officials made clear they did not want to mediate the dispute. They stressed it was up to local leaders to act to ease the situation. “Ultimately, solutions to problems in this region must come from leaders in this region,” Kirby told reporters. “So while we continue to make all efforts to facilitate dialogue, the emphasis is on local leadership to work through their differences and find the best path forward through this tension.” Of particular concern, US officials said, are military operations against Islamic State extremists in Iraq that are being conducted by Iraqi security forces, which answer to an Iran-friendly govern-ment, and Sunni and Shiite militias.
That cooperation has shown gains in recent weeks, notably with the Iraqi recapture of the provincial capital of Ramadi. Officials were preparing for a highlevel US conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to stress the importance of continuing the Iraqi government’s outreach to Sunni militias, the officials said. Also of concern is the state of the Syrian peace effort, which is supposed to swing into high gear in late January with UN-sponsored negotiations between Saudi-backed opposition forces and the Iran-supported government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. A US official said Kerry had spoken Sunday with the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to gauge any impact Saudi- Iranian developments might have on the planned Jan.
25 start of negotiations. There was no immediate indication that those talks would be disrupted, the official said. At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest urged Saudi Arabia and Iran not to let their dispute derail fragile talks aimed at securing a cease-fire and a political transition to end the war in Syria. “Hopefully they will continue to engage,” Earnest said. “It is so clearly in the interests of both countries to advance a political solution to the situation inside of Syria.” Meanwhile, the United Nations said de Mistura will head to Saudi Arabia and Iran this week to try to ensure the talks go ahead.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies