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Middle East

The West has put Middle East at risk by failing to intervene in Syria and making overtures to the new Iranian regime, says senior Saudi diplomat

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain says his country is left with no choice but to act by itself and seek peace and stability in the region

The West’s failure to intervene in Syria, coupled with its attempts at forging a nuclear deal with Iran, “risk the security of the region,” a senior Saudi diplomat has warned, saying the Arab kingdom was willing to go it alone and had no choice but to “become more assertive in international affairs.”

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia turned down a coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council in protest at the way the West was dealing with Syria and the American overtures to the new Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani. Now, its ambassador to the UK has again expressed Riyadh’s anger at the lack of intervention in Syria, arguing that while efforts are being made to remove chemical weapons from President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal, “surely the West must see that the regime itself remains the greatest weapon of mass destruction of all?”

“Chemical weapons are but a small cog in Mr Assad’s killing machine,” Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain, wrote in a pointed New York Times op-ed this week.

He said the “Assad regime is bolstered by the presence of Iranian forces in Syria. These soldiers did not enter Syria to protect it from a hostile external occupation; they are there to support an evil regime...”

Despite all of this, “rather than challenging the Syrian and Iranian governments, some of our Western partners have refused to take much-needed action against them.”

The Prince said that this left Saudi Arabia with no choice but to act by itself and seek peace and stability in the region. “We continue to show our determination through our support for the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition,” he argued. “It is too easy for some in the West to use the threat of al-Qa’ida’s terrorist operations in Syria as an excuse for hesitation and inaction. Al-Qa’ida’s activities are a symptom of the international community’s failure to intervene. They should not become a justification for inaction.

“The way to prevent the rise of extremism in Syria — and elsewhere — is to support the champions of moderation: financially, materially and yes, militarily, if necessary.”