Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Saudi Arabia and Iran as “brothers and neighbors,” and that the two countries have more in common to unite than their differences, the former Iranian President told Al Arabiya during a special interview.
“I consider the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as harmful to the interests of both parties. We are brothers and neighbors, and the common denominators between us are dozens of times greater than our points of differences,” Ahmadinejad said adding that Tehran and Riyadh “must cooperate together to manage the region.”
During his exclusive interview with Al Arabiya’s Senior News Presenter Taher Barake, the former Iranian president also called for the establishment of a regional union similar to the European Union, noting that “Europe fought for a long time before it finally reached the experience of the union for the benefit of its peoples.”
“International forces are trying to control the region, which is rich in energy and culture. These forces are creating problems in the region with the aim of controlling it,” he added.
Iran’s hardline former president Ahmadinejad has registered to run again in an election in June but was disqualified from taking part by the country’s Guardian Council.
Ahmadinejad told Al Arabiya that there was no room for a single power to dominate the region’s capabilities, saying: “The late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wanted to be the most important in the region...but he faced many problems.”
Regarding the examples of cooperation he intends between the countries of the region, the former Iranian president said that during his tenure he cooperated with Saudi Arabia more than once to raise the price of oil in 2012, adding that during his tenure, “there were no mutual threats between Riyadh and Tehran.”
“The scope of cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia can always be expanded to control security in the Gulf waters, and to solve the outstanding problems in Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria. All of these issues can be resolved through understanding and cooperation,” Ahmadinejad told Al Arabiya.
Last summer, Ahmadinejad reportedly reached out to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a letter offering to work together on Yemen, despite the history of tensions between the two countries.
Ahmadinejad offered to coordinate a ceasefire in Yemen, according to the New York Times, which said it received a copy of the letter from Ahmadinejad’s office. The former president confirmed he sent the letter to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his interview with Al Arabiya.
“I know that your excellency is not happy about the current situation of innocent people dying and getting injured every day and infrastructure being damaged,” Ahmadinejad reportedly wrote personally in the letter, which was signed “your brother Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”