Med2019 Dialogue with Adel Bin Ahmed Al Jubeir

[Music] [Music] okay hello and welcome to this dialogue Mediterranean dialogue and this dialogue session with Adel Bin Ahmed al Jabar the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia welcome sir and with me Matthew Carnot's Nick who is the chief Europe editor of political will have half an hour to try to get as many answers as possible from you and I want to begin with a question about the region take two examples in in Lebanon and in Iraq we saw in recent weeks protest movements pushing out prime ministers they were against corruption but they were to a certain extent also against Iran and its allies we've also seen massive protests in Iran that were crushed what is happening I believe the region is saying enough is enough to the Iranians I believe that what we're seeing in Iran is a result of 40 years of neglect since the home any revolution in 1979 the Iranian government has tried to export terrorism has tried to build a nuclear weapon has interfered in the affairs of other countries it has done everything that involves death and destruction but it has not taken care of its people and the Iranian people are saying enough is enough and they're reacting to it I believe this in with regards to Iraq what we saw last year's demonstrations in Basra against Iran what we see in today's demonstrations across all the Shia areas in Iraq against Iran and the Iraqi Shia are saying we are Arabs we don't want Iran interfering in our affairs and we've had enough of it in Lebanon we see for the first time demonstrations by the Shia against Hezbollah in the south and this is also saying enough is enough we want our country back and we want to be a normal country and we are America so you think that there's a really a sea change happening that Iran is on the backfoot in the region after you're denouncing Iran being on the offense well the Iranians have squandered their resources since 1979 like I said promoting death and destruction they have assassinated diplomats blown-up embassies they have planted terrorism cells they have spent tens of billions of dollars trying to built a nuclear weapon which they don't need they have supported terrorist groups they have a ballistic missile program to terrorize the region and like I said that a certain point you can't afford it and that a certain point people will say enough is enough and I hope that this is the reaction of the region and of the Iranian people to the aggressive policies of the Iranian regime but do you think that we will see the Iranian people succeed this time in rising up because we've seen this kind of backlash before in 2009 at other stages over the past 40 years what makes this different or is it really different I I hope so but I can't assess because the Iranian regime is the most brutal regime in the world we saw what they did in 2009 they have no compulsion about killing their people in order to preserve the regime and I would expect that they will continue to do so the key is to make sure that Iran remains isolated the key is to make sure that Iran is under sanctions the key is to make sure that we deny Iran the resources with which to perpetuate its policies of death and destruction do you would you say in a way that the maximum quote/unquote pressure policy applied by the Trump administration getting out of the nuclear deal is working despite all the criticism it's getting especially here in Europe yes Iran is denied income inflation is skyrocketing Iran's currency is plummeting and so Iran is feeling the pressure Iran is losing is not able to sell its oil we support the maximum sanctions campaign we support the withdrawal from the jcpoa we believe the jcpoa has flaws in it the first flaw is the sunset provision that lifts the restriction on how much enriched uranium Iran can have after 12 years after the signing of the agreement we believe that the inspections can be more more broad than more intrusive than they currently are and we also believe that there are two main areas that Iran needs to be held accountable for one is its support for terrorism and interference in the affairs of other countries and the second area is its ballistic missile program which is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions so if we want to deal with the challenge of Iran we need to deal with the nuclear program the missile program and their support for terrorism and interference in the affairs of other countries just coming back to the jcpoa as you know it remains very popular in Europe the Europeans are still trying to preserve what they can of it you you seem to be saying well it would be a good thing if the maximum pressure campaign causes the Iranian regime to collapse which seems to be something that a lot of Europeans are actually worried about because of the disruption that that could create and they have obviously what happened in Iraq very fresh in their minds why are you not worried or are you worried about that kind of full-blown collapse of of Iran and what that could lead to in the broader region I don't believe anyone is talking about regime change what we what people are talking about is behavior modification Iran has the principle of exporting the Revolution enshrined in its constitution Iran does not believe in the sovereignty of nations it believes that every Shia belongs to it that's like saying Italy claims every Catholic do you think Germany and France and Spain would accept this of course not Iran does not believe in the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other countries it supports terrorism all of this has to change if Iran wants to be treated as a normal country and so the thinking behind the maximum pressure campaign is to compel the in government to come to the negotiating table and negotiate a better jcpoa and negotiate on ballistic missiles and negotiate on its interference in the affairs of other countries so the borders really in in transport but isn't what we're seeing right now the opposite of that where you have even you know the so-called moderates in Iran coming together with the hardliners that there's very little difference now within the the different interest groups in Iran that they're all sort of rallying around one another I see pressure building up in Iran I see Iran being more isolated I think that needs to continue we have always said that appeasement does not work trying to build a parallel transfer money transfer system to Swift it will not work trying to provide loans to Iran will not work that's called appeasement the appeasement did not work with Hitler in World War two it will not work with Iran today the world has to be very firm in what it expects of Iran and the world has to be very firm in holding the run accountable nobody wants war but the Iranians cannot be allowed to get away with murder that has got to stop what a nice question on that why do you think that the the European refused to accept these these arguments because we've been going around and around with these arguments for a few years now obviously in in the American view and I think in your view the jcpoa is dead you know the the Europeans the p3 they refused to accept that reality why do you think that is I think you should ask them that question we have explained to them our logic we continue to discuss this issue with our allies in Europe there is no doubt that all of the European countries do not want Iran to ever have a nuclear weapon there's no doubt about that the question is how do you stop them there is no doubt that all the European countries want Iran to stop its ballistic missile program no doubt the question is how do you bring it out about there is no doubt that all the European countries want Iran to stop interfering in the affairs of other countries and support terrorism no doubt the question is how do you do it and so name one other than maximum sanctions that will bring Iran to the table because the policies of the past from 1979 until now have not worked so you we need a different approach and this is the approach that's available I want to get to one of the bone of contention with Iran's might be an indirect one Yemen clearly the war is going nowhere but it seems there might be some interesting developments we understand your government has opened a channel with the Houthi rebels through Oman we've seen prisoners being released we've seen the fighting recede up to a certain point of course and it seems you've changed tack on on Yemen there you realize the war is not going to be one piece needs to be found is this what's happening we have always maintained that the only solution to Yemen is a political solution we did not start this war the Houthi started this war by staging a coup we interfered as part of a coalition of Arab countries nine months after the war in Yemen started to support the legitimate government we took the position that the solution is a Yemeni Yemeni solution and we took the position that all Yemenis including the Houthis have a role to play in Yemen's future the war continued eventually the legitimate government was able to reclaim a lot of the territory that the Houthis occupied but they still occupied major metropolitan areas we support the efforts of martin griffith to try to bring about peace in Yemen we had a situation where there was a conflict between the southern transitional council and the legitimate government and we were able to very quickly move in and work out a peace between them there will be a new government in Yemen that will be formed that is being formed as we speak there have been confidence-building measures that Martin Griffith has been able to work out that involved involve opening of the scenario what gradually that involved more ships going into her data and that most recently involved the transfer of prisoners so these are good steps that one can build on there have been a significant reduction if not a complete halt to the missile attacks by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia there have been a substantial drop in the air operations by the coalition so I think where there is goodwill there is the ability to move towards a settlement at the end of the day we have always said that Yemen is our neighbor and the Yemeni people have familial ties and tribal ties with Saudi Arabia the Houthis themselves their lands border our territory and so we want to have the best relations with all Yemenis including the Houthis we want an end to this war so we can move towards reconstruction and development all those confidence-building measures do not come out of the blue they come from those talks however direct they are with the Houthis and that's a big change because until now was the Houthis were Iran's proxies there's no reason why we should talk to them because of what you just said before yeah I'm hoping that what we say is that the Iran's involvement in Yemen is a destructive involvement it's not a positive involvement over a period of 2000 years Iran has not laid one brick to build a hospital a road or a school Saudi Arabia has been Yemen's largest contributor of developmental assistance and we expect to continue to be that because Yemen is critically important to us and when Yemen is healthy it's good for us when Yemen ails we are affected we have a large Yemeni population living in Saudi Arabia we have had historically very strong ties with all Yemeni groups and we have family ties and tribal ties between our two countries so you're optimistic those talks will bear fruit yes I'd like to come to your relationship or Saudi Arabia's relationship with the United States as you know there's been a lot of skepticism about Saudi Arabia within the Democratic Party particular not only amongst the Democrats since the khashoggi killing which you could say was a rogue operation that said many in the US establishment don't accept that still don't accept that are you worried especially if you look at the way president Trump abandoned the Kurds in Syria are you worried about the alliance with the United States especially if the Democrats win the presidency next year not at all our relationship with the u.s. is bipartisan our relationship with the US politically began with a Democratic president when FDR met the late King Abdulaziz at the great bitter Lake on the USS Quincy on Valentine's Day in 1945 the relationship has grown every decade it's broadened it's deepened whether it's a Democratic president or a Republican president and the reason that's the case is because the two countries have a very critically important relationship Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves the US doesn't need oil but oil is fungible you have a shortage of crude oil in one part of the world everybody on the planet suffers Sanjeev is the birthplace of Islam and custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Surgery abyss influence extends to 1.6 billion Muslims that's critically important to the u.s. surgery visits at the crossroads of three continents surgery visits alongside three of the world's most critical passageways the Strait of Hormuz the bab-el-mandeb and the Suez Canal Saudi Arabia is one of the largest financial players in the world surgery is one of the largest energy players in the world Saudi Arabia and the US are working together to try to stabilize Lebanon working together stabilize Iraq working together to stabilize Afghanistan working together to calm tensions between India and Pakistan working together to fight piracy in the red sea working together to support Sudan to support Egypt working together in order to defeat Boko Haram in the g5 sahel countries so this is a really important relationship we have huge investments we have huge trade we have a huge population of Americans living in sahaja yoga and visiting Saudi Arabia and vice versa so the relationship is not going anywhere several years ago there was talk about the pivot to Asia what happened we have more American forces in the Gulf today than we did when people talked about the pivot to Asia the u.s. role in the Middle East we don't see it as receding quite the contrary America is a superpower it has interested to pursue those interests what happened in Iraq was not an abandonment of the Kurds it was rese restructuring of American forces people talk about us reducing its forces in the region because they pulled out 150 out of northern Syria but they're sending thousands to Saudi Arabia as we speak so I don't see this concept of America as receding quite the contrary and I don't see anything but the strengthening of the relationship you mentioned the troops that President Trump is sending to Saudi Arabia now given that the history of American troops there and if you remember I'm sure you do the the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia was the inspiration for Osama bin Laden originally do you think it's really advisable for the u.s. to continue to engage especially in your country and in such an aggressive way yes America is our ally and the American presence in Saudi Arabia helps the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi public is fully aware of the Saudi public knows that our two countries have partners and that our two countries have stood shoulder to shoulder in fighting terrorism and extremism at our two countries will stand soldiers shoulder to shoulder and pushing back against Iran's nefarious activities are you going to pay for those troops as president Trump has suggested Saudi Arabia has always carried its weight from the day our relationship with the u.s. began we are not a burden on anyone I'll take that as I guess I just said we are not a burden on anyone we and the US are allies and we have always paid a fair share I want to get to another regional issue Qatar obviously there's been a big dispute with Qatar for the past two and a half years between you and several of your allies in the region next week there's gonna be a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh the Saudi King officially invited the Emir of Qatar he hasn't gone to Saudi Arabia for such summits since the disputes so will he go and there have also been reports that Qataris Foreign Minister went to Saudi Arabia probably to discuss and I should add and maybe last but not least there was football tournaments in Qatar where Saudi we participated and Qatar was kind enough to lose yesterday the semi-final against Saudi Arabia I think I think we're very happy with the win over some of our soccer team and I think they won because they put both of us agree because they performed very well we have the Emir of Qatar was invited to the GCC summit as he was invited to the GCC Arab and Islamic summits in June of this year he was invited last year to the GCC summit and he was invited to the Arab League summit that was held and he didn't irrelevance so whether he attends or not is really something that you should address to our Qatari colleagues the countries know what what needs to be done they know what the problem where the problem lies and they need to be they need to take the steps necessary in order to overcome those problems we have always said that we have a common history with Katerine we have a common destiny but there are policies that have to change and we hope they will change have they started changing and are the reports that the Foreign Minister went to Saudi Arabia to discuss those 13 demands sure we have seen some changes in the laws with regards to terror financing my by Qatar but there needs to be more steps taken and I believe understand what those steps are and you believe it's on the right path just like Yemen that this could be a point of tension that might disappear in the near future I'm always an optimist but it really is up to the cutter is to take the steps that need to be taken what you could show more flexibility maybe on some of those demands well it's up to them to take the steps necessary when they know what they are like to come to another flashpoint which is the israeli-palestinian situation there there was some optimism in some quarters of Washington about Trump's plan for a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians it hasn't really gone anywhere so far how do you view this this plan which was put together by his son-in-law Jared Cristobal we have it hasn't been presented yet our our position has been and remains that a settlement of the israeli-palestinian conflict has to be based on a two-state settlement based on the Arab League our peace initiative and based on the relevant Security Council resolutions with the ultimate outcome being a Palestinian state on 67 borders with minor mutually agreed to adjustments with East Jerusalem as its capital we have always said that once this happens then there will be peace between not only Israel and the Arab world but Israel and the Islamic world the Arab Peace Initiative that was put on the table in 2002 was reiterated every year at every Arab summit in 2005 at a December Islamic summit the OIC countries adopted the peace initiative so now you're looking at the peace was 57 countries but we need to get this going and annex in territory continuing the settlements that is not conducive to this and so our view is the solution and the settlement is clear we need the political will in order to get there but but everything you described is being supported by the by the Trump administration so by that logic you will be moving further away from from the two-state solution the we and we've made we've made that clear to our friends that unilateral actions are not acceptable and are conducive to promoting peace but if I made the Palestinians were very optimistic and yelled said they had meetings with President RUF President Abbas came out he was really you know he thought this would happen and clearly they've been totally disappointed when you ask them they say we don't believe there is actually a plan we don't believe it will ever be presented and those who pretend to continue to believe it are just lying so the Palestinians have lost any hope why are you still hopeful Trump or his administration won't come up with this so-called deal of the century you have to always be optimistic because otherwise you can't solve problems and you have to keep trying until you get to a solution that is acceptable to all parties and so we can't raise our hands and give up that's not what we do if you want to be a diplomat you have to be an optimist otherwise you should be a commentator with all due respect to commentators right but but I mean how you conveying those concerns that little by little the Trump administration is killing the two-state solution from your view from our viewpoint the believes we have we've from day one we have outlined what we thought would be the fair settlement we have provided advice our advice with regards to what we thought the approach should be we have offered to work with the US and the international community to try to encourage the two parties to move towards such a solution but we can't force our views on on the other side there's always a lot of rumors about your contacts with the Israeli government behind the scenes are you in cooperating with them or discussing with them in in in in any way about what we've just discussed here the two-state solution we have and so we don't communicate with them there are certain challenges where both countries see eye-to-eye with regards to threats from Iran and what Iran is doing in the region but we don't we have no relationship with Israelis and our point is unless until there is a peace normalization cannot happen just because we're nearing the end obviously as Matthew pointed out after Jamarcus regime murderer saudi arabia has been incurring a lot of criticism out about its human rights record and even their human rights groups are saying that saudi arabia is still going after the centers not only inside saudi arabia but outside of saudi arabia and therefore it was actually not a rogue operation but the modus operandi of the saudi regime what's a response our response is that this was a huge mistake that was not authorized the saudi government has never murdered the citizens the people there was an investigation we have more than 20 people investigated eleven are currently facing trial and five of them were facing potentially the death sentence the the the government has taken steps to put in place mechanisms in our intelligence services to prevent something like this from happening again so we investigated we're holding people accountable and we're putting in place mechanisms to stop it from happening again when Abu Ghraib happened that President Bush gives the order did secretary Rumsfeld give the order no mistake happened unauthorized investigation hold people accountable put in place procedures to prevent it from happening again when Oliver North was embarks on iran-contra he thought that President Reagan wanted this and Reagan President Reagan didn't what did the u.s. do it investigated held people accountable put in place procedures to prevent it from happening again and this is what we're doing inside rabin i tell people before you begin and charge saudi arabia or something wait until the process plays out and then judges not beforehand isn't the principal innocent until proven guilty in this case it was flipped upside down with regards to human rights in surgery they were making great progress we are liberating women and liberating youth bands that existed in the past no longer exist woman can get a passport and travel freely without anyone's permission we didn't get the same pay for the same job in the foreign ministry for example five years ago the incoming class of diplomats was 10% women last year the incoming class was 50% women so we're making strides and we're moving and we're looking at our at our laws and we're looking at our legal system and we're looking at our educational system our objective under vision 2030 is to make surgery a dynamic place an innovative place a society based on technology moderation openness and inclusivity and this is what we're working towards okay I believe we have to end it here we're told that we have 30 minutes and no more thank you very much mr. al Jabar thank you that's two and thank you everyone [Applause] please gentlemen please remain