Ambassador Al-Jubeir Discusses Yemen and Nuclear Accord with Iran on Fox
In an interview on Fox News Special Report, Ambassador Al-Jubeir told Bret Baier Saudi Arabia remain determined to protect the legitimate government of Yemen and to degrade and destroy what the Houthis possess that could be a danger to the Kingdom.
“The air campaign has been extremely successful,” he said in noting that air strikes have taken out the rebel air force, destroyed ballistic missiles and other heavy weapons.
“We are going systematically through our target list in order to eliminate a potential threat and a dangerous threat not only to Saudi Arabia but the world,” the Ambassador said.
Asked about the possible introduction of ground troops, Ambassador Al-Jubeir said, “We are considering all possibilities and we will deal with them when the time comes. Right now the focus is on the air campaign which is going very well. We are providing military assistance to the popular committees in the south. These are Yemenis who have split from the military or from units loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh and have joined in the fight against the Houthis. We are beginning to see them change the situation on the ground...to the disadvantage of the Houthis. Bret, the effort in Yemen we always say failure is not an option. We will prevail. We will destroy the military capabilities that represent a threat to us and we will defeat and degrade the Houthis and we will work towards bringing about a political settlement that moves Yemen towards a better place.”
Asked about the Kingdom’s reported request to Pakistan for ground troops, Ambassador Al-Jubeir said, “I don’t know where the status of those discussions are. We have coalition of over 10 countries. We have a number of countries who have expressed an interest in participating one way or the other and we have conversations with a number of those countries.”
Asked if it was a proxy war with Iran, the Ambassador told Bret Baier, “I would call it a war of necessity after we were left with no choice. For three years, the Houthis have reneged on every promise they made, every commitment they made, 67 agreements to be precise.”
Saudi Arabia, he said, responded to the official request of the government of Yemen under article 51 of United Nations Charter. “Our objective is to protect the legitimacy in Yemen, to protect the Yemeni people from a takeover by a radical group allied and supported by Iran and Hezbollah,” he said.
Asked to respond to those who suggest the conflict is empowering AQAP, Ambassador Al-Jubeir said, “We are very focused on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula along with our American allies. We have programs ongoing to confront that threat that I cannot talk about. We are determined to ensure that Yemen does not become a safe haven for terrorists, or a failed state. Bret I want to point out something to you. In one day we had an attack on a Saudi border post by the Houthis. We had an attack by Ali Abdullah al-Saleh’s forces in Aden and we had the prison break in which hundreds of prisoners escaped including Al Qaeda operatives....My question is did this all happen as a coincidence or was this somehow organized or planned in order to enhance or strengthen Al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen so that Houthis can make themselves look like they are fighting the terrorists when in fact they are not.”
Asked about remarks by President Obama in his interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggesting that Arab states face as great of an internal threat as they face from Iran, Ambassador Al-Jubeir said, “I don’t know that he was specifically talking about Saudi Arabia. He said Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia, but the issue of the conversation that we have internally in Saudi Arabia with the economic development plans we have, the education issues, the reforms that are taking place in Saudi Arabia are all meant to counter extremism and to enhance the standard of living of the Saudi people and to improve the quality of life for the Saudis and to provide them with opportunities. So, we’ve had a booming economy for almost a decade. We’ve had unemployment rates that have dropped substantially. So, I don’t know if he was talking in his case specifically about Saudi Arabia.”
Asked about press reports that Saudi Arabia was praising the nuclear accord with Iran, the Ambassador remarked, “I don’t know if we are praising this deal because there is no deal, there is a framework agreement in which a set of principles are outlined that have yet to be negotiated or have yet to be nailed down. What we have been saying is that we have been assured by the President and by the Secretary of State that Iran will not be able to have an atomic bomb as a consequence of any agreement made, that all pathways to an atomic bomb will be closed, that Iranian research in the nuclear area will be severely restricted, and that Iran will be subjected to continuous, intrusive and unprecedented inspections. So, that all is very positive to us.”