JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East said, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He also warned against any attempts to harm US relations with the Kingdom.
Pompeo said in a staunch and strongly worded defense of the relationship between Washington and Riyadh, downgrading ties would be a “grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies.”
Pompeo stressed Saudi Arabia’s stance against Iran, the role played in the fight against Daesh, and the Kingdom’s aid efforts for Syrian refugees.
Pompeo also defended America’s support for the Arab Coalition’s military operation in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi militia, writing on the State Department’s official blog.
Pompeo said, “The Kingdom is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East,” “Saudi Arabia, like the US – and unlike these critics – recognizes the immense threat the Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the world.
“An emboldened Iran would spread even more death and destruction in the Middle East, spark a regional nuclear-arms race, threaten trade routes, and foment terrorism around the world.”
Pompeo said the vast social and economic reforms underway in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would not be helped by downgrading relations with Riyadh.
“The crown prince has moved the country in a reformist direction, from allowing women to drive and attend sporting events, to curbing the religious police and calling for a return to moderate Islam,” he added.
Pompeo said the crown prince had acted quickly “to root out Iran’s destabilizing influence” and praised the Kingdom’s aid efforts in the country.
“Iran has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don’t even care for ordinary Iranians,” he said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in Yemen. Iran has invested zero.”
He announced that for food aid in Yemen, the US would provide an additional $131 million.
Mattis told members of the Senate in the closed-door briefing that US involvement in Yemen is central to American security interests. Ending US involvement in the conflict would “be misguided on the eve of the promising initial negotiations,” he warned.
Saudi Arabia’s other efforts in the region had also helped contain Iran, combat extremist groups and relieve the suffering of the displaced, Pompeo said.
Saudi Arabia was “working to secure Iraq’s fragile democracy and keep Baghdad tethered to the West’s interests, not Tehran’s,” he said in Iraq.
The secretary of the state said that “Saudi Arabia has also contributed millions of dollars to the US-led effort to fight Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.”