Sunni Saudi Arabia and Egypt warn Shiite Iraq

Posted in Religion and Politics , Iraq , Broader Middle East | 06-Jan-13 | Source: Saudi Gazette

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal

Saudi Arabia and Egypt Saturday warned Iraq against sectarian extremism following two weeks of protests by Sunnis marginalized by Baghdad’s Shi’ite-led government.

“We are convinced that Iraq will not stabilize until it starts handling issues without sectarian extremism... Until these issues are addressed, we don’t think there will ever be stability in Iraq, which pains us,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr in Riyadh.

“Iraq is an independent country. Therefore, it is difficult to intervene in its internal affairs unless the people of Iraq demanded such an action,” he said.

Amr said that Iraq has suffered a lot and the Iraqi people have suffered so much that it is time for Iraq to overcome this ordeal and benefit from its human and natural resources. He also hoped that Iraq will get out of the sectarian strife.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt also called for a “peaceful handover” of power in Syria where more than 60,000 people have been reported killed since the protests against President Bashar Al-Assad began nearly two years ago. “A peaceful exit is an Arab and international demand,” Prince Saud told reporters. “It is up to the Syrian people to decide the conditions of the exit from power” of Al-Assad.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr called for “stepping up the efforts to achieve a peaceful handover of power.”

He described the situation as tragic. The peaceful transition of power is very important to spare the Syrian people more tragedies and sufferings, Amr added.

Prince Saud said that they also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue, the environmental danger from the Iranian nuclear program on Gulf states, the threat to security and peace of the region and the world as Iran does not respond to the efforts of Group (5 +1) to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

He stressed the depth of relations between the Kingdom and Egypt, which are reflective of strong ties and mutual respect.

“We held today the first ministerial meeting of the political follow-up and consultation committee between the two countries. During its deliberations, we discussed numerous topics of mutual cooperation, including the work of the Saudi-Egyptian Joint Committee headed by ministers of commerce of the two countries. We also reviewed ways to facilitate investments, the economic support program for Egypt and many other issues that serve the interests of the people of the two countries and live up to the aspirations of our two leaderships,” Prince Saud said.

Amr said that the meeting addressed means of enhancing investments between the two countries, which amounted to $5 billion in 2011.

Denying a newspaper report that some strikes attributed to US drones were made instead by the Kingdom’s air force, Prince Saud said fighter jets have not attacked Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen. “This is not true,” he said.