US embassy cable - 91RIYADH10006

PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL CRITICIZES IRAN

Identifier: 91RIYADH10006
Wikileaks: View 91RIYADH10006 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Riyadh
Created: 1991-11-24 08:22:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PTER KISL OIC GCC IR SA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 240822Z NOV 91
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3395
INFO GCC COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
CHUSMTM RIYADH SA
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 10006 
 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PTER, KISL, OIC, GCC, IR, SA 
SUBJECT:  PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL CRITICIZES IRAN 
 
1.  (CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT). 
 
2.  DURING A NOVEMBER 21 MEETING ON A VARIETY OF TOPICS 
(SEPTELS, NOTAL), THE AMBASSADOR SPARKED A DIATRIBE ON 
IRAN FROM SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL BY 
ASKING WHAT HE THOUGHT IRAN WAS UP TO IN THE OIC.  PRINCE 
SAUD REPLIED THAT IRAN HAD INDEED OFFERED TO HOST THE 
NEXT OIC SUMMIT.  IN HIS OPINION, THIS REPRESENTED A 
TACTICAL CHANGE IN IRANIAN POLICY, NOT A STRATEGIC ONE. 
HE EXPLAINED THAT IN THE PAST, IRAN HAD TRIED TO COMPETE 
WITH SAUDI ARABIA BY SETTING UP ITS OWN ISLAMIC 
ORGANIZATIONS.  THEY HAD FAILED IN THIS REGARD AND WERE 
NOW ATTEMPTING TO WORK THROUGH THE EXISTING MACHINERY 
INSTEAD.  HOWEVER, THEIR GOALS REMAINED THE SAME -- 
REGIONAL HEGEMONY AND INTERVENTION IN ARAB AFFAIRS. 
 
3.  TURNING TO GCC RELATIONS WITH IRAN, PRINCE SAUD SAID 
THAT OMAN WAS NO LONGER AS "FASCINATED" WITH IRAN AS IT 
HAD ONCE BEEN.  (LATER, THE PRINCE REMARKED THAT HE 
RECOGNIZED THE OMANIS HAD TO ADOPT A DIFFERENT POSTURE ON 
IRAN THAN SOME OTHER GCC STATES DUE TO THEIR CLOSE 
GEOGRAPHIC PROXIMITY TO IT.)  IN FACT, PRINCE SAUD 
CONTINUED, ALL GCC COUNTRIES DESIRED GOOD RELATIONS WITH 
IRAN, BUT IRANIAN POLICIES (ITS MILITARY BUILD-UP, 
AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE OF MILITARY EXERCISES, AND THE 
ANTI-PEACE CONFERENCE IN TEHRAN) REMINDED EVERYONE THAT 
THE ONLY REAL THREATS TO GULF SECURITY HAD COME FROM 
STATES WITHIN THE REGION. 
 
4.  PRINCE SAUD CONTINUED THAT THE ONLY AREA WHERE IRAN 
WAS BEING AT ALL REASONABLE WAS ON THE HOSTAGES IN 
LEBANON.  HOWEVER, EVEN HERE HE SAW AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE, 
SAYING THAT THE IRANIANS' TRUE OBJECTIVE WAS TO GET THE 
WESTERN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT OF IRAN LIFTED.  THE IRANIANS 
NOW REALIZE, HE SAID, THAT THEY MUST STRENGTHEN THEIR 
ECONOMY IF THEY ARE TO ACHIEVE THEIR MILITARY AND 
POLITICAL OBJECTIVES. 
 
5.  PRINCE SAUD CONCLUDED HIS CRITIQUE OF IRAN BY NOTING 
THAT, FORTUNATELY, THE IRANIANS WERE NOT FOOLING ANY OF 
THE GCC COUNTRIES, ALL OF WHOM HE SAID REGARDED IRAN AS A 
THREAT NOT AN ALLY.  THERE WOULD OF COURSE BE SPORADIC 
ATTEMPTS TO SHOW GOOD NEIGHBORLINESS, SUCH AS THE RECENT 
VISIT BY QATAR'S CROWN PRINCE, BUT MOST IRANIAN/GCC 
PROJECTS, SUCH AS THE SWEETWATER PIPELINE TO QATAR UNDER 
THE GULF, WOULD FALL OF THEIR OWN WEIGHT FOR ECONOMIC 
REASONS, THE FOREIGN MINISTER CONCLUDED. 
 
6.  COMMENT: PRINCE SAUD'S CANDID REMARKS DEMONSTRATE 
CLEARLY THAT DESPITE THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC 
RELATIONS, THERE IS NO LOVE LOST BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND 
ITS MAIN COMPETITOR FOR INFLUENCE IN THE MUSLIM WORLD. 
 
 
FREEMAN 

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