Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani Joint Press Conference
Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani Joint Press Conference following the 42nd extraordinary meeting of the GCC Ministerial Council
HE Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir:
In the name of God,
The council discussed at length the Iranian attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashad. The council also discussed Iran's aggressive policies in the region and ongoing interferences in the countries, with the aim of destabilizing their security and stability. The discussion was thorough and very positive, as this is the norm between brothers. We came out with a shared vision about the Iranian attacks. And now I would like to give the floor to His Excellency the Secretary General to read the statement.
GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani:
In the name of God
Peace be Upon the Prophet
Dear members of the press
Peace be upon you
Press statement issued by the Ministerial Council at its 42nd extraordinary meeting on January 9, 2016, in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council held their 42nd extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on Saturday, January 9, 2016, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, and with the presence of Their Highnesses and Excellencies: HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates; His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain; His Excellency Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman; Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar; HE Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait; and His Excellency the Secretary General of GCC, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.
The Ministerial Council discussed at length the repercussions of the attacks on the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Mashhad. The ministers condemned the attacks in strong terms, holding the Iranian authorities fully responsible for these terrorist acts under its commitment pursuant to the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Conventions and international law, which holds host country Iran responsible for protecting diplomatic missions.
The council also condemned Iran’s blatant interferences in the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia, particularly the Iranian government’s hostile and provocative statements on the sentences carried out by Saudi Arabia against a number of persons convicted by Saudi courts of terrorism. These statements were a direct incitement for launching the attacks on the diplomatic missions of Saudi Arabia.
The council stressed that such acts do not serve peace and security in the region and the world; are contrary to the principles of good neighborliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and respect for national sovereignty; and only serve to complicate the situation and ignite more crises in the region.
The council stressed that GCC countries support the decisions and measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and to find perpetrators of terrorist acts and instigators of sedition and bring them to justice. The council praised the efficiency, independence and integrity of the judicial system in Saudi Arabia.
The council expressed its full support for the measures taken by Saudi Arabia to respond to the terrorist attacks on its diplomatic missions in Iran, stressing that the GCC countries will take further appropriate measures. The council welcomed the categorical rejection of these attacks expressed by Arab, Islamic and friendly countries and the UN Security Council, calling on all countries and the international community to take serious and effective steps to prevent such attacks on diplomatic missions in Iran.
The council condemned Iran's continued occupation of three United Arab Emirates islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa), fomenting of sectarian strife, supporting, training and financing terrorist organizations, and incitement to undermine security and stability in the GCC countries, some of which were recently revealed during a foiled terrorist plot in Kingdom of Bahrain and the arrest of members of a new terror cell that was receiving support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The council agreed to establish an effective mechanism to address the Iranian interference.
The council urges the international community to take necessary measures to compel Iran to respect the principle of good neighborliness, both in words and in deeds, to stop its destabilizing activities in the region, to stop its support for terrorism, to cease interfering in the internal affairs of the GCC countries and other countries in the region, and to end the use of force or threat of force. (End of GCC Statement)
Question: (Abdul Mohsen Sheikh - Al Jazeera Channel): The Iranian Foreign Ministry received an invitation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to participate in the ministerial meeting called for by the Kingdom. What does the Kingdom seek from this specific invitation and the successive meetings?
Minister Al-Jubeir: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, includes Iran. Iran is a member, and if the Kingdom requested to an exceptional meeting for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the attacks on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and Consulate General in Mashhad, the organization sent these invitations to all members.
The purpose behind this meeting is to determine the position of the Islamic countries; that such action is unacceptable in terms of international law, Vienna Conventions, and the Charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
We expect the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take a firm stance similar to the one taken by the Gulf Cooperation Council. We also hope that tomorrow the League of Arab States will take a strong position with respect to Iranian aggression, both on the attacks on the Saudi Arabia’s embassy and consulate, or its interference in the affairs of countries in the region, or its support for terrorism. This is what we expect.
Question: (Ahlam AlZaeem – Makkah newspaper): Will Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states seek to issue sanctions against Iran, both at an international level by the Security Council, or organizations, or at the Gulf level?
Minister Al-Jubeir: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council worked on the Security Council resolution condemning the Iranian aggression. We have succeeded in that, and thankfully, now we are working with the international community to expose Iran and its unacceptable policy, which has been in place for the past 35 years. We are also looking at additional measures that could be taken against Iran if it continues its current policies. Things will be clearer through time.
Question: (Salem Khathaami - Al-Eekhbariya channel): My first question is for Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. With the increasing nature of Iranian interference in the affairs of the region, and through this meeting held today, would Gulf countries suffice with the actions taken in the past few days or will the world witness a tougher phase? The other question is to the Secretary General, we have news about holding a meeting with the Arab League tomorrow, will you relay what was discussed in Riyadh today to the Arab League and what [actions] will be taken internationally in this regard?
Secretary-General Al Zayani: In regards to the Arab League’s meeting tomorrow, yes the Council’s position was clear in the statement that I read to you, which is the position that will be determined with the Arab brothers at the meeting tomorrow.
Minister Al-Jubeir: With respect to the position of the Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council, as I mentioned in an answer to an earlier question, we are now looking at the steps that can be taken towards Iran, escalation [of the situation] came from Iran, not from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, the negative actions by Iran in the region, came from Iran and not the Gulf Cooperation Council. We are tracking Iran's moves and taking action to address them, things will be more pronounced as reported in the near future.
Question: (Deema Almashaabi-Bloomberg, in English) Just in the future do you see Saudi Arabia conducting direct talks with Iran about the issue?
Minister Al-Jubeir: We have no issue in terms of dealing with the Iranians in the past. It is Iran that has committed the aggression against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is Iran that interferes in our internal affairs and the internal affairs of our neighboring countries. It is Iran that sponsors terrorism against us and our neighbors. It is Iran that harbors terrorists and those implicated in terrorism. And so all of the negativity and all the hostilities coming from, emanating from Iran and has been for the past 35 or so years, since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Sectarianism in the Middle East was virtually unheard of until the Iranian revolution took place and Iran started pushing a sectarian agenda that started to divide people and nations along sectarian lines. These actions are not acceptable.
And the position that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken along with its allies in the GCC is to basically say enough is enough. These actions will not be tolerated. We cannot have a country that burns and attacks embassies, whether those embassies are American, British or Saudi. We can’t have a country that supports terrorism that leads to killing of the innocent. We can’t have a country that interferes in the internal affairs of other countries and then expects people to deal with them in a normal manner. This is not logical.
Iran has to make a decision whether it is a nation state or a revolution. If it’s a nation state, it should act like one, and be a rational actor, that countries can deal with. If it is a revolution, it will be very difficult - if not impossible - to deal with them, because revolutions have no logic. It's all driven by emotions. We would welcome the opportunity to see Iran act like a normal country, to be a peaceful country, to not interfere in the affairs of the countries of the region, and to not support terrorism. But that is entirely in the hands of Iran. If it wants to be a good neighbor or if it wants to remain in a hostile environment with its region.
I think most countries in the Arab and Islamic world have rejected these Iranian moves and have taken steps to redefine their relationship with Iran.
Question: (Ian Black/The Guardian, in English): My question is to Mr. Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister. What do you fear will be the effect on this crisis with Iran on efforts to bring about these negotiations first of all in Syria, where there had been some progress recently, and also in Yemen?
Minister Al-Jubeir: This question has been asked by a lot of people and a lot of people have expressed views or opinions about it that are not correct. We are committed to the Vienna process and to bring about a resolution to the Syrian crisis. We will continue to work with the countries in the Vienna process in order to bring about a resolution to the Syrian crisis based on the principles of Geneva 1, an interim governing council transition of power that leads to a new Syria in which Bashar Al-Assad has absolutely no role.
To that we are committed. We’re also committed to supporting the Syrian opposition in the absence of a political process, so that commitment is also ironclad.
With regards to Yemen, we are committed to a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Yemen based on the GCC initiatives and the outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue and based on UN Security Council resolution 2216.
We urge all parties in Yemen to move towards a peaceful solution and in the meantime we are determined to continue supporting the legitimate government of Yemen in terms of maintaining its influence in Yemen and expanding its influence in Yemen. The crisis that was provoked by Iran’s aggression is not going to change our views on those two issues.
I would want to add here that Iran has played a very negative role in both Syria and Yemen. Iran is the one that supported the Houthis with money and with manpower and with weapons, and it continues to do so. We have stopped a number of Iranian ships carrying weapons that will bound for the Houthis so this is a very negative role that Iran is playing in Yemen.
With regards to Syria, everybody knows that Iran sends its revolutionary guards to go to protect Bashar Al-Assad and that Iran mobilized Shia militias; Hezbollah from Lebanon, from Iraq, from other countries in order to go and support Bashar Al-Assad, as he killed more than 250 thousand people and rendered more than 12 million people homeless.
So the role that Iran plays in Syria and in Yemen is a very negative one and we hope that they will be able to change those policies. Our policy with regards to Syria remains the same, and our policy regards to Yemen remains the same.