Saudi says difficult to see role for Iran in Syria peacemaking

Adel al-Jubeir said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had to leave power if peace was to be achieved

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday that Iran’s military role in Syria stopped it from being able to play a role in peacemaking efforts in the conflict there.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Jubeir repeated Riyadh’s view that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Iran, had to leave power if peace was to be achieved.

“The question is: what must Iran do to be part of the solution in Syria? The answer is very simple:

“It has to withdraw from Syria and it has to stop supplying weapons to Bashar al-Assad’s regime and it has to withdraw the Shi’ite militias that it sent … and then it can have a role,” Jubeir said, adding that Iran was now an “occupier of Arab lands in Syria”.

Saudi Arabia believed Assad must step down as soon as a transitional body was set up in line with the Geneva peace talks of 2012, he said.

“After the formation of this governmental body, President Assad must step down. If it is a matter of months, two or three months or less, that is not important. But Assad has no future in Syria,” Jubeir said according to an Arabic translation of his comments made in English at the news conference.

The idea that Assad might stay until elections were held and that he could participate in these elections had no prospect, he added.

Tehran has armed the Syrian government and, by backing Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, helped Assad combat rebels seeking to end his rule in the four-year-old conflict.

Jubeir said he hoped Iran would stop interfering in the affairs of regional countries, like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“We are determined to confront any Iranian moves and we will do everything we can with what we have in political, economic and military means to protect our lands and people.”