Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of DefensePrince Khalid bin Salman has tackled variant issues from the Iranian threat tothe region to the war in Yemen. An interview with VICE Media conducted on July 27th, 2018 wasobtained and published by Al Arabiya on January 24th.
Prince Khalid discussed the ways of dealing with Iran and why does the latter is undermining regional peace and stability with Saudi Arabia's vision targeting reforms and prosperity.
International and Regional threat
Terrorism as a phenomena;threat to the globe and the region, represents the greatest threats to Saudi Arabia nowadays embodied in Tehran which the Prince dubbedas "the biggest threats to the region, and to international security."
"The Iranian regime and its proxies on one side, and ISIS,al-Qaeda, and terrorist organizations on the other side. We believe thatthey're both two sides of the same coin," he said.
"They believe in the same concept, notnecessarily exactly the same ideology, but they both do not believe in thesovereignty of nations, they both believe in a transnational ideological state,they both do not believe in international law, and sometimes they compete witheach other, and they fight each other, but when it comes to us, we're thecommon enemy, and they cooperate," the Prince added.
War in Yemen
Saudi Arabia didn't support the start of war in Yemen, buthad no choice but providing support for the Yemenigovernment in the war in Yemen, said Prince Khalid. "The party that started thewar is the Iranian militia, the Houthis, they started the war in 2014 when theymoved from their own hometown to the capital, killing and slaughtering theYemeni people and threatening the central government of Yemen," he added.
At that time, DeputyMinister of Defense explains, Saudi Atrabia was facing the options of supportthe central government in Yemen – the legitimate central government of Yemen –against all terrorist non-state actors: the Houthis and AQAP [al-Qaeda in theArabian Peninsula]. Or, if the Yemeni central government falls, we're onlygoing to have two terrorist non-state actors: the Houthis and AQAP.
So the only choice Saudi Arabiahad was to support the Yemenigovernment, to reinstate the Yemeni government's control over the country, tofix the Yemeni economy, to create jobs, to have a prosperous Yemen, to improvethe humanitarian situation that went downhill after the Houthis' aggressioninto Yemen.
"That is our objective andwe've been very successful throughout our pressure campaign on the Houthis tosit at the negotiating table, to solve this problem and reach a long-lastingpolitical solution," the Saudi Prince confirmed.
Different visions and targets
For Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalidsays that his country seeks to be "a force of stability, a force of peace, aforce of prosperity in the region", as it targets "this great vision, vision2030, where we want to reform our economy, to basically uncap the potential inSaudi Arabia, to open new sectors in Saudi Arabia, and to have a prosperouscountry, and to move our citizens forward."
In order to implement this, "Tobe able to do that, we need a stable, secure region, a prosperous region. Weneed to increase our economic cooperation with neighboring countries," heconfirmed.
On the other side, "Iran wants to export the revolution. Iranhas an expansionist ideology. Iran wants other states in the region not to bepartners, but to be under the Iranian expansionist project. And this is a bigdifference; we have vision 2030 that is moving us forward, and they have vision1979 that is trying to move the region and Saudi Arabia backward."
Confrontation or appeasement?
A political essay written byPrince Khalid in Arab News, Saudi-first English language newspaper, lastyear has compared the situation of Iran to Germany which in the 1930s, as inexpansionist, saying that the international community is sort of appeasing Iranfor its expansionist policies.
Prince Khalid says that "Thesituation in the world, especially in Europe, in the late 1930s, was that backthen we had these expansionist ideologies and expansionist countries. We seeNazi Germany moving and taking over Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia, andthe solution back then was appease Nazi Germany instead of confronting it. Andwe remember during the Munich Agreement, when President Chamberlain went backto Britain and held a piece of paper and said this is peace for our time, andit did not work, it led to more expansionism. It led to the invasion of France;London was getting bombed after this."
"So, what we want in theregion, is that we see the same expansionist concept in the region through theIranian regime. And we believe that we need to push back on this right now, notto lead to a bigger conflict. Because if you look at the trend in the regionthroughout these 40 years after the Iranian revolution, we see that Iran hasstarted to build this sectarian terrorist militia in Lebanon, and they bombedembassies, they bombed the marine barracks, they assassinated the primeminister of Lebanon, and they're trying to copy that model and use the sameplaybook in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and they've been getting away with it," hesaid.
"And now we see more than 160ballistic missiles launched at a G20 country, toward Saudi Arabia. So, if we donot push back on this, we'll see more terrorist militias popping up in theregion. And let's remember, Hezbollah in Lebanon is not a domestic threat,Hezbollah is a transnational threat. We see Hezbollah's money launderingactivities throughout the whole world, we see it in Africa and south America.We see their drug activities also throughout the world. And we don't wantanother Hezbollah, another transnational threat to appear especially in Yemen,like the Houthis for example. It's another 'death to America' group that we seein the region, and it's another transnational threat that we're trying to end.And it will also affect the Red Sea, which 50 percent of world trade passesthrough." He added.