Lead­ers con­demn Iran in­ter­fer­ence


Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE -

DHAHRAN, April 16, (RTRS): An Arab League sum­mit called on Sun­day for an in­ter­na­tional probe into the “crim­i­nal” use of chem­i­cal weapons in Syria and con­demned what it saw as Iran’s in­ter­fer­ence in the af­fairs of other coun­tries.

Saudi Ara­bia and Iran have for decades been locked in a strug­gle for re­gional supremacy that is now be­ing played out in proxy wars in sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ye­men and Syria.

“We stress our ab­so­lute con­dem­na­tion of the use of chem­i­cal weapons against the Syr­ian peo­ple and we de­mand an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tion to guar­an­tee the ap­pli­ca­tion of in­ter­na­tional law against any­one proven to have used chem­i­cal weapons,” said a state­ment dis­trib­uted to jour­nal­ists.

It em­pha­sized the need for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the mul­ti­sided Syr­ian war.


Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies have ex­pressed sup­port for Satur­day’s mis­sile strikes by the United States, Britain and France against al­leged chem­i­cal weapons fa­cil­i­ties in Syria, while Iraq and Le­banon con­demned the strikes.

Da­m­as­cus de­nies us­ing or pos­sess­ing chem­i­cal weapons and called the strikes an act of ag­gres­sion.

Mil­i­tary help over the past three years from Rus­sia and Iran, which also backs Le­banon’s Hezbol­lah and Shi’ite Mus­lim mili­tias in Iraq, has al­lowed Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad to crush the rebel threat to top­ple him.

The com­mu­nique called for more in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions on Iran and urged it to with­draw “its mili­tias” from Syria and Ye­men.

“The sum­mit con­demned Ira­nian in­ter­fer­ence in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Arab coun­tries, ei­ther through ig­nit­ing sec­tar­ian strife or plant­ing mili­tias in Arab coun­tries such as Le­banon, Iraq and Ye­men, and har­bor­ing al-Qaeda ter­ror­ists,” Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Adel al-Jubeir told a news con­fer­ence.

Iran, which de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tions, re­jected the con­dem­na­tion as the re­sult of Saudi pres­sure. Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin pro­posed co­op­er­at­ing with the Arab League on re­gional se­cu­rity, specif­i­cally in Iraq and Syria fol­low­ing the de­feat of Is­lamic State mil­i­tants there, ac­cord­ing to Rus­sian news agen­cies.

“The heavy shadow of de­struc­tive Saudi poli­cies is ev­i­dent in ... the fi­nal state­ment of the sum­mit,” Ira­nian state me­dia quoted Iran’s For­eign Min­istry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as say­ing in Tehran.

Saudi Ara­bia, which takes over the ro­tat­ing chair of the Arab sum­mit from Jor­dan, an­nounced that this gath­er­ing would be named the “Quds (Jerusalem) Sum­mit”, a ref­er­ence to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion last year to rec­og­nize Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of Is­rael, which Arab states con­demned.


Del­e­gates pledged to sup­port the Pales­tini­ans, who want East Jerusalem to be the cap­i­tal of a fu­ture Pales­tinian state. King Sal­man said Saudi Ara­bia was do­nat­ing $200 mil­lion to help them, in­clud­ing $50 mil­lion for the UN Re­lief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Qatar did not send a se­nior of­fi­cial, a sign that its 10-month-old dis­pute with Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt is still a long way from be­ing re­solved.

The four coun­tries sev­ered diplo­matic and trans­port ties with Qatar last June, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism. Doha de­nies the charges and says the boy­cott is an at­tempt to im­pinge on its sovereignty.

Its del­e­ga­tion was headed by its per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Arab League, Saif bin Muqad­dam al­Buainain, Qatar’s state news agency said.

Most of the 22 other coun­tries sent

heads of state or gov­ern­ment. Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad alThani headed Qatar’s del­e­ga­tion at last year’s sum­mit in Jor­dan.

Sheikh Tamim re­turned to Doha on Satur­day from a US trip where he met Trump. Trump pub­licly sided with the Saudis and Emi­ratis early in the cri­sis but is now push­ing for a res­o­lu­tion to re­store Gulf Arab unity and main­tain a united front against Iran.

Asked why Qatar was not on the sum­mit’s agenda, the Saudi for­eign min­is­ter said: “Be­cause Qatar is not on the agenda. It’s not a big is­sue. It’s not a big prob­lem. It’s a very, very small prob­lem.”


A hand­out pic­ture pro­vided by the Saudi Royal Palace on April 16, shows Saudi King Sal­man bin Ab­du­laziz (cen­ter right), Kuwait’s Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (cen­ter left), Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­delfat­tah el-Sisi (right), fol­lowed by Bahrain’s King Ha­mad bin Isa Al-Khalifa (third right, be­hind), ar­riv­ing to at­tend the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the ‘Gulf Shield 1’ mil­i­tary drills in the eastern Saudi Ara­bian re­gion of Dhahran, on the side­lines of the

29th Arab League sum­mit.

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