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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Saudi's Al Jubeir: We are committed to a political solution in Yemen

Riyadh will reconstruct the country once the war is over, foreign minister says

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir at Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Photo by Don Pollard
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir at Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Photo by Don Pollard

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said his country is committed to finding a political solution to the Yemen war, reaffirming support for UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths.

Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Wednesday, Mr Al Jubeir said "once this war is over, and it will be over, we will go back and reconstruct Yemen". He said that the $10 billion set aside for reconstructing Yemen will be doubled to $20 billion.

Saudi Arabia also believes that "the Houthis have every right to be part of the political system, but have no right to dominate it," according to Mr Al Jubeir. He expressed hope that the Houthis "come to the table to make a deal they could have made three years ago".

Voicing frustration at how little international criticism is directed at the Houthis, whose coup d’etat four years ago led to the unravelling of a peaceful political transition in Yemen, Mr Al Jubeir said "we lost the communication battle at the beginning". He went on to count off the Houthi transgressions, including refusing entry of cholera vaccines, paid for by the Saudis, that led to the spread of the disease.

He added that the Houthis use child soldiers, assassinated political leaders and "yet there is no outrage". On the coalition’s side, Mr Al Jubeir said there was no option but to intervene militarily when the Houthis overran Sanaa, the capital. He added they would not allow a Hezbollah-like country on Saudi Arabia’s southern border or on the Red Sea.

Mr Al Jubeir addressed a number of developments in the Arab world, including Palestine. On how Saudi Arabia is addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Saudi minister said: "We support and advise the Palestinians but ultimately the decision is for the Palestinians. We all know the formula for the solution".

He stated that despite the US embassy move to Jerusalem, which he called a “mistake,” West Jerusalem can be a future capital for Israel while East Jerusalem can be a future capital for Palestine. Mr Al Jubeir welcomed an American proposal for resolving the decades-long conflict, explaining "our advice to every administration since George H Bush administration that the two sides cannot come together. It is too difficult… there is distrust between the two sides.. so put the package together and put it on the table and mobilise the international community to support it”.

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Read more:

Opportunities for resolving Yemen crisis at UN General Assembly

UN aid chief: Fight against famine is being lost in Yemen

Yemen's Houthi rebels cut off food supplies for Hodeidah residents

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Asked about whether Iran will step up its militant activities in the region due to American pressure, Mr Al Jubeir asked “what more can they do? They are doing all they can”. He said “our view is that Iran has no role in the Arab world.. in the long run, the Iranian position is not tenable”. In Syria, the Saudi Foreign Minister said his country is working to support a political solution. On Iraq, Mr Al Jubeir said “We are committed to having the best relations with Iraq – and look forward to building this relationship”.

Responding to a question on the Qatar “falling out”, Mr Al Jubeir responded" “it is not a falling out, we just don’t want to have anything to do with them”.

Mr Al Jubeir repeated the grievances the Arab Quartet has against Qatar, including the support for extremists and working to destabilise the countries of the Quartet. In a clear indication that the Qatar crisis is not to be resolved soon, Mr Al Jubeir saying “we will wait 10, 15, 20 years” until Doha resolves the issues raised by the Quartet.

As for Canada, Mr Al Jubeir said any resolution to the problem with Canada relies on an apology. "It is outrageous that a country will sit there and lecture us", in reference to the Canadian Foreign Ministry issuing a statement demanding an immediate release of a Saudi activist.

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WATCH: A conversation with Adel Al Jubeir

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