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US welcomes Saudi effort to ‘checkmate’ Iran

Updated Apr 21, 2017 09:59am

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U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. ─ Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. ─ Reuters

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of Defence James Mattis has welcomed Saudi-led efforts to ‘checkmate’ Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East and adjacent regions.

In a transcript released by the Department of Defence in Washington on Thursday, Mr Mattis said that the move to form an alliance of Arab and other Muslim countries to counter Iranian influence was a positive development.

“What we’re seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they can cause,” he said.

After a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Mattis praised the country’s leading role in regional security as well as in countering Iranian influence and negotiating peace in Yemen, the Pentagon reported.

The US defence chief also noted that Saudi Arabia was providing care to Syrian refugees in Jordan and providing energy supplies and other support to Egypt “as they work through some really tough financial times”.

“It’s very clear that Saudi Arabia is stepping up to its regional leadership role … at a key time in terms of trying to restore stability in this key region in the world,” he said.

In reply to a question about Iran, Mr Mattis said “Iran’s impact” was felt across the region as it maintained a militia in Lebanon, deployed its military inside Syria and was continuing to hold President Bashar al Assad in power. “Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran,” he observed.

That’s why, Saudi Arabia and other nations were getting together to counter this influence, he added.

The United States also backs the Saudi-led, 34-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), headed by the former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif. While the force’s anticipated role in Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen has made it controversial, the United States appreciates its aim to combat terrorism.

In reply to a question about Yemen, Mr Mattis said: “Our goal is to push this conflict into the UN-brokered negotiations to ensure that it ends as soon as possible. It’s got to be ended.”

But he accused Iran of fomenting troubles in Yemen as well.

“Iranian influence, Iranian support, infiltrating weapons that have been caught in transit by the French navy, by the Australian navy, by the US navy, shows that Iran once again is no help,” he said.

The US defence chief urged the international community to work together to “overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilise yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah.”

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2017

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Comments (16) Closed



Samir lone Apr 21, 2017 10:57am

Iran and Saudi are both responsible for trouble in Yemen and Syria

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Apr 21, 2017 11:19am

Pitting people against each other Donald hate group is a joke.

Taurious Apr 21, 2017 11:22am

"Divide and Rule" that has "always" been the policy of the West, and keep "arming all sides of the conflict zones with armaments that are no longer needed..sold in exchange for oil!

ShahiD Manzoor Apr 21, 2017 11:35am

God help Middle East

Zulfiquar Apr 21, 2017 01:03pm

@Samir. Saudis are the main culprit of fanning sectarian division and supporting terrorism and destabilizing the governments of the region for example Iraq, Syria, and Libya. They are the one who are friends of Israel and not even talking about Palistinian Issues. They are are the one who are bombarding poor Yemeni for last two years and haven't got the results yet. They are the one helping Bahraini govt to suppress the voice of the majority of that country. They are the one who are propagating the ideology of intolerance among the Muslims and giving bad name to Islam.

Javid Shirazi Apr 21, 2017 02:21pm

With all due respect, this charade is an act of futility. They have been trying to do so for the past four decades but in vain.

Hafeejul Alam Apr 21, 2017 04:05pm

@Zulfiquar I could hardly find more correct expression about Saudi Arabia than that of yours. Sadly though, that's the plain truth regarding Saudi Arabia

Guest67 Apr 21, 2017 04:26pm

Almost forgotten from the minds " Checkmating Iran via Iraq , was the corner stone of USA Administrations of the past " and They pumped what ever was possible to prolong the 10+ years Iran/Iraq war , The architect of ' Awe some power during the 1st Gulf war " , Sec Rumsfiled , was on records to have personally involved in selling the ingredients of the WMD to Saddam Hussain then. The worlds knows what happened and where is Iraq now ( primarily an Iranian extension of the sort !)

This New successor's stance " checkmating Iran by Saudi " , resembles the same theme played again , decades later , The USA president is banking his wings to visit Saudi arabia . Is it the beginning of the end game USA has started once again !?! , One might wonder aloud !

ADNAN MAZHER khan Apr 21, 2017 04:26pm

Greatest divide in Muslim ummah and we are happy about it.

Muhammed Ali UK Apr 21, 2017 04:44pm

Proxy wars that play with the lives of the innocent..shame

Kabir Apr 21, 2017 05:27pm

Saudi Arabia Monarchs should have learnt something from the history it was Donald Rumsfeld under President Ronald Reagan who pitted Saddam Hussain against Iran and again it was Donald Rumsfeld under the George Bush ousted the Saddam Hussain very humiliatingly

Iftikhar Husain Apr 21, 2017 05:30pm

where ever there is trouble in the world USA is involved but in the end they walk away from that and leave the country to suffer.

fas Apr 21, 2017 05:33pm

don't divide brothers Iran & Saudi Arab. In fact U are bone of contention between Muslim Brothers and we don't understand. May Al Mighty bless us

ANWAR Apr 21, 2017 07:30pm

Dispicable , Saudi have no credibility whatsoever now

Hasmukh dave Apr 21, 2017 08:22pm

Great , KSA is negotiating peace in Yemen, the Pentagon reported.

Muhammad Apr 21, 2017 09:17pm

@Guest67 You have said it all in just few lines 110% agreed