Sunday 21 January 2018

Saudis outline new plan to contain Iran threat

Saudi Arabia is suspicious of Iran and the US
Saudi Arabia is suspicious of Iran and the US

Damien McElroy and David Blair London and Peter Foster Washington

Saudi Arabia is to adopt a "new defence doctrine" focused on resisting Iranian influence in the Middle East, a senior diplomatic adviser warned after the nuclear deal struck with Tehran by six world powers including the US.

As Britain urged the main regional powers to back the agreement, the Saudis offered their grudging support, with an official statement saying that it "could be a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran's nuclear programme, if there are good intentions".

But the kingdom's rulers remain deeply suspicious of Iran's intentions -- and almost equally wary of America's diplomacy, especially since they were kept in the dark about the US contacts with Iran that preceded the Geneva agreement.


Nawaf Obaid, a counsellor to Prince Mohammad bin Nawaf, the Saudi ambassador to London, accused America of dishonesty.

"We were lied to, things were hidden from us," he said. "The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva, but how it was done."

The response, said Mr Obaid, would be a "new defence doctrine" based on containing Iran. Saudi Arabia "will be there to stop them wherever they are in Arab countries", he said. "We cannot accept Revolutionary Guards running round Homs (in Syria)."

His comments reflected Saudi fears that America's overtures towards Iran could upset their own close alliance with Washington.

Although Saudi Arabia has great wealth, its military strength is limited and its 75,000-strong army is barely a fifth of the size of Iran's -- forcing the country to rely on America as the ultimate guarantor of its territorial security. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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