By Arab News
By Muhammad Al-Sulami
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia would not allow any foreign intervention in its internal affairs. He also reiterated the Kingdom’s opposition to demonstrations, saying it would cause division and unrest in the country.
“We’ll cut off the fingers of those who try to interfere in our internal matters and we reject dictates from any foreign party, be it small or big. We’ll also reject any move that would undermine the Kingdom’s sovereignty,” Prince Saud told reporters.
“As we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, we’ll not allow anybody to interfere in our internal affairs,” the foreign minister said when asked about reports of Iranian instigation for demonstrations inside the Kingdom.
“We hope Iran should be concerned more with demonstrations that are taking place here. In Saudi Arabia we don’t have any demonstrations like in Iran. We would not tolerate any intervention in the Kingdom’s affairs by any foreign party…If we find any foreign intervention we’ll stop it immediately,” he said.
Prince Saud indicated that the Saudi government was ready to bring about more reforms to meet the hopes and aspirations of its citizens. “Change will come through the citizens of this country and not in accordance with the dictates of foreign parties,” he insisted.
He highlighted the Kingdom’s long history. “Since the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) our people have been living in this country. They know their interests and requirements and how to reach their objectives. We want to protect their independence and interests.”
Dialogue, not demonstrations
Prince Saud underscored a recent statement issued by the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars in the country, which emphasized the need to protect the interests of society and that the call for reform and advice should not be in the form of demonstrations.
“Saudi Arabia has prohibited demonstrations as it goes against the country’s law,” the minister said, adding that dialogue is the best means to protect rights.
Referring to a protest march in the Eastern Province, Prince Saud said: “When a group of our brothers came out, a police officer asked them whether they see any hindrance before them to present their demands to the Saudi authorities as their offices are open to all.”
He added: “We have seen Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah receiving groups of citizens from the Eastern Province and other parts of the Kingdom on Tuesday. The officer then told them to give their demand in writing. They then presented their demands and went back to their homes.”
Speaking about anti-government protests in some Arab countries, Prince Saud said: “People are copying what is happening in another country. When they see someone raising a flag they follow him,” he said. “There are similarities in these events, but each one is different from the other,” he said. He described Saudi Arabia as an open country. “King Abdullah has instructed all officials that their doors should be open to all citizens to present their proposals and grievances.”
Prince Saud also emphasized the importance of national dialogue that covers all groups of people in the country, allowing them to present their viewpoints on various issues. He emphasized the government’s efforts to protect human rights and establish justice and equality. “The best way to achieve all these objectives is dialogue,” he said.
Asked whether the anti-government protests in some Arab countries were instigated by foreign forces, he said: “External intervention was very clear, but we cannot say whether it was the main reason or not. I think that every country had a different situation. There are people who believe in conspiracy theories. But I believe foreign forces have played their role in these events.”
He said the Kingdom’s strategic relations with Egypt would continue despite the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak. “Internal developments in Egypt would not affect our relations. We’ll stand by the leadership selected by the Egyptian people. We’ll continue our strong relationship with Egypt.”
Asked about Saudi-American relations, Prince Saud said: “We don’t interfere in the internal affairs of the US and wish better relations between the two countries.” He denied press reports that the US had asked the Kingdom to supply arms for Libyan revolutionists. “We are not a country that manufactures and exports weapons. I have never heard of this request,” he added.
Prince Saud was asked whether the appointment of Ahmed Kattan as new ambassador to Egypt was anything to do with complaints raised by some citizens against the former ambassador, he said: “Appointments of ambassadors are a Foreign Ministry secret.”
He highlighted the significance of the last GCC foreign ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi and said the unity and solidarity expressed by member countries during the meeting were greater than any time before. He said the GCC would witness greater unity and cooperation in the coming years.