A senior advisor to the Saudi royal family has accused its Western allies of deceiving the oil rich kingdom in striking the nuclear accord with Iran and said Riyadh would follow an independent foreign policy.
Nawaf Obaid told a think tank meeting in London that Saudi Arabia was determined to pursue its own foreign and policy goals. Having in the past been reactive to events, the leading Sunni Muslim nation was determined to be pro-active in future.
Mr Obaid said that while Saudi Arabia knew that the US was talking directly to Iran through a channel in the Gulf state of Oman, Washington had not directly briefed its ally.
“We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”
In a statement the Saudi government gave a cautious welcome to the Geneva nuclear deal. It said “good intentions” could lead to a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s atomic programme. “This agreement could be a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear programme, if there are good intentions,” the Saudi government said
But it warned that a comprehensive solution should lead to the “removal of all weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear, from the Middle East and the Gulf”.
A fellow of Harvard University’s Belfer Centre and adviser to Prince Mohammad, the Saudi ambassador to London, Mr Obaid said Saudi Arabia would continue to resist Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war. In particular he pointed to Iranian Revolutionary Guards involvement in battles in Syria on behalf of the regime.
“Saudi Arabia will be there to stop them wherever they are in Arab countries,” he said. “We cannot accept Revolutionary Guards running round Homs.”
Saudi Arabia’s fury at the diplomatic detente with Iran is commonly held with Israel. While both countries are in the same posion Saudi Arabia disavows any suggestion of an open alliance. Until the Palestinians have a state, Saudi Arabia will not work with Israel.
Saudi Arabia is increasingly at odds with Washington over Syria. It rejected a seat on the UN Security Council in protest at the body’s failure to “save” Syria.
Saudi Arabia, has previously expressed unease about US overtures to Iran. The dialogue helped pushed along efforts by Washington and others to strike a deal with Iran seeking to ease Western concerns that Tehran could move toward nuclear weapons.