Saudi Arabia “will protest strongly” against Iranian espionage, “and inform international agencies, including the United Nations and the Arab League, in order to adopt a suitable stance against Iran,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told Arab News on Wednesday.
The presence of an Iranian espionage cell in Saudi Arabia exemplifies Tehran’s hostile attitude toward the kingdom, said Prince Saud during a meeting in Ankara with the editors in chief of Saudi newspapers.
“No country is allowed to recruit individuals to work against Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that the Iranian spy network violated international norms and contradicted its claims of wishing to establish friendly relations with Riyadh.
Last week, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of 10 more individuals in connection with an Iranian espionage case. The new group included eight Saudis, a Lebanese and a Turk.
Prince Saud said he had met with Iran’s foreign minister a few days before, and received positive feedback indicating Tehran’s desire to establish cordial relations with Riyadh.
“What we want now is to see that desire materialize on the ground,” the prince said, adding that the statements and actions of Iranian officials were contradictory. “They preach what they do not practice, and practice what they do not say,” he said.
Prince Saud was accompanying Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, during his visit to Turkey.
The foreign minister highlighted strong Saudi-Turkish relations, adding that they are at their best.
He described Crown Prince Salman’s visit as a success, and said both countries held similar political views.
“Saudi Arabia and Turkey are determined to establish contacts and coordination, and there is a political will to remove obstacles,” Prince Saud said.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey hold identical views on Syria, where the solution lies in the removal of the regime and giving the people the final say, said Prince Saud, accusing the regime of violating international charters.
He emphasized the need to arm the Syrian opposition to achieve a balance of power and stop the bloodshed.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has refused to accept reasoning, and has opted for a military solution, killing thousands of his people,” the foreign minister said.
Prince Saud accused the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of deepening sectarianism in the country.
“He has usurped power and attacked the opposition, violating civilian principles of the state,” said Prince Saud.
(Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi is editor in chief of Arab News and Sayidaty.)