Turki: Riyadh favours engagement with Iran

Turki: Riyadh favours engagement with Iran

October 19, 2013

Dubai: Senior Saudi Prince Turki Bin Faisal Al Saud has said that new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will have to deliver before others take him seriously.

In his recent address to the Iranian American community, Prince Turki said that despite King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz’s invitation to the new Iranian President to perform Haj this year, Rouhani has “unfortunately declined to accept”.

Prince Turki, a former Saudi Ambassador to US, said Saudi Arabia favours engagement with Iran, and President Barack Obama’s overture to Rouhani will hopefully lead to Iran’s return to the International community as a contributor to peace and stability.

“Rouhani’s sensible discourse is in distinct contrast to [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s bluster and bombast. With the world community opening its arms to embrace Rouhani, his major obstacle lies in the forces of darkness in Qum and Tehran. He has to shed Khomeini’s interventionist legacy and, like his own discourse, adopt sensible policies,” Prince Turki told the Iranian American community, the National Iranian American Council website says.

Prince Turki said the Iranian leadership has the opportunity to share so much of Iran’s heritage and wisdom with other Muslims. “But if they wish to gain the respect of other countries, they must first show respect to the traditions, heritage, and political identity of their peers.”

Prince Turki said, “Iranians can be proud of their history and heritage. Arabs have the greatest respect for the faith and culture of Iranians as well as the indelible Persian contribution to the marvels of Islamic society.”

But, he said, like all worthwhile achievements, Persia’s greatest masterpieces were the product of cooperation and education, of learning from and with people of other backgrounds.

Prince Turki said just as Arabs, Africans, Europeans and Asians continue to be enriched by Persian knowledge and culture, Iran has been greatly enriched by its Arab, Asian, and European partners.

“Pushing away these interlocutors, dividing Muslims with bombastic claims to religious leadership, threatening their neighbours with false claims to Bahrain, and refusing all rational solutions to the dispute over [the three occupied] Emirati islands, will not restore the former glory of Iran; it will do just the opposite,” he said.

“[Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s meddling in Iraq is the cause of the daily killings and suffering that the Iraqi people are enduring. The situation in Syria, in which the Iranian government has chosen to support the butcher [Bashar] Al Assad, is a case in point. Ruhollah Khomeini was famous for his claim as the champion of the “mustazafin”. Today, Khomeini’s successors have chosen to support the oppressor, not the oppressed,” he said.

Referring to Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, Prince Turki said Iran has the right to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but brinksmanship policies and the construction of secret facilities do nothing to serve the country’s best interests; nor do these policies allay the world’s suspicions.

“All member countries of the United Nations, not just the West, are bound by the Security Council’s sanctions on Iran. If Iran’s leaders seek equitable treatment on this issue, they must come clean about its nuclear programme. The best way to move forward fairly on this issue is for Iran’s leaders to follow the policy set down by the Shah in 1974. The establishment of a Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East will ensure a level playing ground for all nations in the region. Iran’s leaders claim to support the Zone. That support should not be by lip service only,” he added.


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