Davos: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir yesterday condemned Iran’s attempts to destabilise the region, terming it a “vision of darkness”. He was speaking at a panel discussion titled “Finding a New Equilibrium in the Middle East” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, along with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash and Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa.

Al Jubeir told the forum, “The vision of darkness is sectarianism, it’s trying to restore an empire that was destroyed thousands of years ago, it’s using sectarianism and terrorism in order to interfere in the affairs of other countries so that you can promote this revolution and this imperialistic expansion, even at the cost of the well-being of your own people. That’s the dark vision … It’s called Iran.”

Al Jubeir also said Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman wants to turn Saudi Arabia into a normal and powerful country. “The world is not used to seeing Saudi Arabia moving quickly and boldly. Some criticised Saudi Arabia for progressing slowly, and today the opposite is happening,” he added.

Hinting at Iran, Shaikh Khalid said that it needs to realise that whatever aims it has “be they hegemonic or support for proxies ... will not work”. Making a clear distinction between Iran, with its deep-rooted culture and ancient civilisation, and the present regime, he said, “There is a mistrust that came with the [emergence of] the Islamic republic [in 1979]. Iran really needs to change its behaviour. We are not there to destroy Iran, or interfere with Iran. They need to be part of the international coalition to protect the region with the United States. They should not look at the presence of the [US] Fifth Fleet in Bahrain as a threat. They should not look to export their revolution. They should respect their own revolution and not think of [exporting it].”


Dr Anwar Gargash stressed during the panel the significance of moving from the state of chaos that feeds on religious extremism.

He said too much blood was being spilt in the name of ideologies, and that there was a need to move back to the normal state where security prevailed in a civilian state, he added.

He also said that the recent unrest in Iran was “very significant”. “Clearly the Iranian economy is floored. People want an emphasis on jobs and opportunity. Your [Iran’s] own population wants you to not spend $5 billion [Dh18.3 billion] annually in Syria, $1 billion annually on Hezbollah and concentrate on creating opportunities [at home]. This is the time for Iran to analyse what it is doing, for its own sake. They have to be a normal country. And have a dialogue; we can’t be neighbours and not have dialogue … I am hoping that the anger we saw on Iranian streets does not go in vain …”