Declaring that the West’s approach towards Iranian nuclear weapons and the war in Syria “risk[s] the stability and security of the Middle East,” a senior Saudi diplomat vowed Wednesday that Riyadh “will not remain silent” about what it considers ill-conceived policies.
In a New York Times op-ed
, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Britain Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud delivered a scathing indictment of recent U.S.-led diplomatic initiatives on both issues, calling them a “dangerous gamble.”
“For all their talk of ‘red lines,’ when it counted, our partners have seemed all too ready to concede our safety and risk our region’s stability,” he wrote.
In Syria, where more than 100,000 civilians have died since March 2011, international efforts to remove President Bashar Assad’s weapons of mass destruction have been sorely inadequate, the ambassador claimed.
Al-Saud called Syrian chemical weapons “a small cog in Mr. Assad’s killing machine,”a reference to the fact that conventional weapons are to blame for the overwhelming majority of the carnage there.
The Saudi diplomat also blasted the West for failing to force Iran to come clean about its nuclear program.
Instead of “challenging the Syrian and Iranian governments, some of our Western partners have refused to take much-needed action against them,” al-Saud wrote. “The West has allowed one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization.”
By pursuing such an approach, Western governments “risk the stability of the region, and, potentially, the security of the whole Arab world.” This makes it necessary for Saudi Arabia “to become more assertive in international affairs: more determined than ever to stand up for the genuine stability our region so desperately needs,” he added.
Without providing specifics, al-Saud said: “We will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners.”
Riyadh has been moving to expand its own weapons purchases. Citing figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, National Public Radio reported
recently that Saudi Arabia was the world's 10th-largest importer of weapons between 2008 and 2012.
Quoting SIPRI, NPR said Saudi Arabia is expected to be in the top five between 2013 and 2017 “due to major outstanding orders, such as for 48 Typhoon combat aircraft from the UK and 152 F-15SA combat aircraft from the USA."
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