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Prince Turki al-Faisal: US pullout from Syria will ‘create a vacuum’ for Iran

Published: Updated:

In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English, Prince Turki al-Faisal, Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said that the US administration’s decision to pullout troops from Syria could increase Iranian presence in the region.

When asked about the imminent withdrawal of troops, Prince Turki responded that it could “create a vacuum that would be filled by Iranian troops and the Iranian militias.”

He advised the US to reconsider the decision.

“It’s a pity because they withdraw from that area and the next day the Iranians will be moving in. So how they can, on one hand, proclaim publicly that they want to want to get Iran out of Syria and, on the other hand, create a vacuum that would be filled by Iranian troops and the Iranian militias,” Prince Turki said as part of a wider interview with Al Arabiya English.

Referring to talks regarding Arab governments pushing for Syria to expel Iranian influence, Prince Turki said that governments should not trust the Assad regime to “give up the Iranian connection that he has.”

“Assad did not turn to his people in order to improve the livelihood and to meet their aspirations and their longing for a better life. On the contrary, he persecuted them, he killed them, he dislocated them, he threw them out of Syria and he turned to Iran in order to do that,” he told Al Arabiya English.

Responding to a question about Russia pressuring the Syrian government to cut ties with Iran as well, the Prince noted that it would be “delusional” to think that Russia could influence the Assad regime since Iranian presence in Syria has increased in the past three years rather than decreased.

He added that no Russian official has given any indication of attempts to pressure Assad to reduce Iranian influence.