Saudi Stance on Syria, Bahrain Unhelpful

Saudi Stance on Syria,  Bahrain  Unhelpful Saudi Stance on Syria,  Bahrain  Unhelpful

A senior diplomat has strongly criticized the Saudi foreign minister for accusing Iran of having "occupying forces" in Syria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, "The latest comments by Mr. Saud al-Faisal - if quoted accurately- are at odds with the existing diplomatic atmosphere between the two countries," the Fars news agency reported on Monday.

Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers held a meeting last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in which both sides described their discussions as positive and a "new page" in bilateral ties between Tehran and Riyadh. However at a joint news conference with his German counterpart on Monday in the city of Jeddah, Saud al-Faisal described Iran as "part of the problem not solution" to the Syrian conflict.

"In this case, we can say that Iranian forces in Syria are occupying forces," AFP quoted him as saying.

 "If Iran wants to be part of the solution in Syria, it has to pull its forces from Syria. The same applies elsewhere, whether in Yemen or Iraq," the Saudi foreign minister said. In response, Amir-Abdollahian said, "Tehran plays a leading role in combating terrorism in the region… Tehran helps the people of Iraq and Syria in their fight against terrorism within the framework of international law."

The official called on Riyadh to watch out for plots by "the enemies of the region" and make sure it is not distracted from playing a positive role in the region.

As to the political crisis in Bahrain, Amir-Abdollahian said, "If Riyadh had ended its military presence in Bahrain, it could have been possible to resolve the country's crisis through a diplomatic solution, halt public suppression and have a national reconciliation."

  Parliamentarians' Response

Two members of the Majlis Foreign Policy and National Security Committee also slammed the Saudi foreign minister's remarks.

Esmaeil Kosari said Saudi Arabia now finds itself in a difficult situation and "at risk of collapse." That is why Riyadh is seeking to make up for its "repeated failures". Now they are attempting to blame Iran for their "political defeats".

Another lawmaker Hossein Naqavi Hosseini also said Saudi Arabia and some other regional countries are pursuing double standards when it comes to fighting terrorism. Tehran, however, has adopted a "transparent policy" toward the issue, he said.