In an interview in Riyadh, Adel Al Jubeir said separate Saudi-led military operations in Yemen would carry on until the country’s government is fully restored to power and that the kingdom would not cut oil production despite falling prices.
Saudi Arabia has been part of the US-led coalition bombing Daesh in Syria and Iraq since late 2014. Its participation declined after it launched strikes against Iran-backed Al Houthi militants in Yemen last March.
“It’s a matter of time before the international coalition in Yemen succeeds in restoring the legitimate government... in control of all of Yemen’s territory,” Al Jubeir said.
“The support for the legitimate government will continue until the objectives are achieved or until an agreement is reached politically to achieve those objectives.”
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab allies began air strikes against the Al Houthis after they seized control of large parts of Yemen and forced President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government to flee the capital Sana’a.
Al Jubeir said the coalition had helped the government reclaim more than three-quarters of Yemeni territory, open up supply lines for aid and “put enough pressure on Al Houthis and Saleh for them to seriously consider a political process”.
He dismissed claims that Saudi Arabia was mired in the conflict.
“A very, very small part of our total military is involved in Yemen and it is not bogged down,” the soft-spoken Al Jubeir said.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have said Iran is interfering throughout the Middle East and Riyadh cut ties with Tehran in a major diplomatic row earlier this year.
“If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia there is a need for Iran to change its behaviour and to change its policies. Mere words will not do the job,” the minister said.
He also rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia feels abandoned by its longtime ally Washington following Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
“Absolutely not,” the former US ambassador said. “I don’t see any reduction of that relationship. If anything I see a strengthening of that relationship as time goes by.”
The kingdom is in a battle for market share with US shale oil producers and, as the largest member of Opec, has refused to cut output despite a fall of about 70 per cent in global crude prices since mid-2014.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia agreed with non-Opec member Russia to freeze output as long as major competitors follow suit, in an effort to stabilise the market.
“If other producers want to limit or agree to a freeze in terms of additional production that may have an impact on the market, but Saudi Arabia is not prepared to cut production,” Al Jubeir said.
Source: Gulf News February 19, 2016