By Arab News
Saudi Arabia strongly condemned on Wednesday the “sinful and abhorrent” attempt to assassinate its ambassador to Washington, a day after the United States claimed Iran was behind the plot.
“The Saudi government appreciates the efforts exerted by the American authorities … in uncovering the plot,” The Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying.
In London, former chief of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki Al-Faisal said in a conference on oil on Wednesday there was overwhelming evidence that Iran was behind a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington and must “pay the price.”
“The burden of proof is overwhelming … and clearly shows official Iranian responsibility for this. Somebody in Iran will have to pay the price, whatever the level of these persons is,” Prince Turki said.
The prince, who has also served as Saudi ambassador to the United States and Britain, said the alleged plan to kill the Kingdom’s current ambassador in Washington was “so criminal, it’s beyond description.”
The US Justice Department on Tuesday charged two men with conspiring with Iranian government factions to blow up Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir on US soil. A criminal complaint named Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized US citizen holding Iranian and US passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Wednesday also condemned the alleged Iran plot, saying they would severely harm relations.
Abdulattif Al-Zayani said in a statement he considered the plot a “flagrant violation” of all laws and international agreements. He called on Iran to rebuild its relationships with the GCC nations — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The United States and its European allies on Wednesday warned that Iran may face retaliation.
The United States, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, said Tehran must be held accountable and urged international condemnation.
The plot is “a flagrant violation of international and US law and a dangerous escalation of the Iranian government’s long-standing use of political violence and sponsorship of terrorism,” Clinton said. “Iran must be held accountable for its actions.”
“It is an outrageous act, where the Iranians will have to be held accountable,” Biden earlier told ABC television’s “Good Morning America” program.
“We’re in the process of uniting world public opinion continuing to isolate and condemn their behavior,” Biden added.
But the Pentagon played down the prospect of military action, saying the alleged plot required a diplomatic and legal response.
“The US military has longstanding concerns about Iran’s malign influence in the region. But with respect to this case, it is a judicial and diplomatic issue,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters.
The alleged high-level plot involved detonating a bomb at a restaurant the envoy frequented, an act that could also have claimed the lives of countless of innocent patrons.
Biden told ABC that the heinous alleged murder plot would “unite the whole world in the moral disapprobation of the Iranians,” and that the global community would respond accordingly — possibly with a new round of sanctions.
“The world is united,” he said. “It’s not United States versus Iran… the isolation of Iran and the attempt to change the behavior is universal — not just with us.”
Meanwhile, top commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday denied any involvement of the force in the plot alleged by the US to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
“America’s claims about the involvement of some members of the Guards in the fabricated terror plot (targeting) a diplomat from an Arab country in Washington are ridiculous and baseless,” Guards deputy commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was quoted as saying on the state television website.
“These actions are a threadbare and baseless scenario, and in effect seek to divert public opinion from the anti-Wall Street movement and America’s failures in carrying out its policies of oppression in the (Middle East) region and around the world,” he said.