MANAMA (Rahnuma): The 14th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue kicked off on Saturday in the Bahraini capital.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressed the forum of Arab leaders and journalists tackling a range of topics in the Middle East.
“A stable Middle East underpins a stable world. Instability does not respect national borders; it grows and spreads if left unchecked,” the defense secretary said.
“Iranian regime does not speak for the Iranian people, who have right to live and prosper in a safe, secure and peaceful region.
An Iranian regime that ignores needs of its citizens feels free to escalate and initiate costly conflicts that serve no one’s interests,” he added.
Mattis also referred to Russia’s military intervention in Syria, saying that Moscow’s “opportunism and willingness to overlook Assad’s criminal activities against his own people evidences its lack of sincere commitment to essential moral principles.”
He said Iran’s support for the Syrian regime “coupled with Russia’s repeated vetoes of UN Security Council Resolutions, is the leading reason Assad remains in power.”
In regards to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mattis said that the US does not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that those responsible must be held to account.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir addressed the forum next saying how the “difference between 50 years ago and now is that now, regional actors are bent on changing regional order rather than outside powers,” while naming Iran in specific.
“The region will end up in a better place, peaceful place but challenge is to deal with forces of darkness,” Jubeir added.
Jubeir also solidified KSA’s relationship with the US, calling it “ironclad.”
On the Khashoggi case, Jubeir spoke of how “full and transparent” investigation results will be released, adding that “these take time.”
“There has been hysteria in the media about Saudi Arabia’s guilt before the investigation is done…we know a mistake was committed, people exceeded their authority, we will put in place mechanisms to ensure mistakes wont happen again,” the Saudi FM said.
He also confirmed that the investigation and trial of those detained in will remain Saudi Arabia.