Saudi Arabia vows iron fist on riots, blames Iran
Saudis pray for Syria after Friday prayers in the city of Tabuk, 1,500 km (932 miles) from Riyadh February 17, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed AlhwaitySaudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said Feb. 20 its security forces would use “an iron fist” to end violence in a Shi’ite Muslim area of the country and defended its tactics against what it called foreign-backed troublemakers.
Sunni Muslim kingdom Saudi Arabia has blamed an unnamed foreign power, widely understood to mean Shi’ite Iran, for backing attacks on its security forces in its Eastern Province. But members of the Shi’ite minority in the area have accused the kingdom’s own security force of using violence against protesters.
“It is the state’s right to confront those that confront it first ... and the Saudi Arabian security forces will confront such situations ... with determination and force and with an iron first,” the ministry said in a statement.
First envoy to Iraq since 1990
The statement came in response to a sermon preached in the Qatif area of the Eastern Province last week that criticized the government’s handling of the situation, in which at least six people have been killed, a ministry spokesman said, Reuters reported. The statement said the security forces were using “the greatest restraint ... despite continuing provocations” and “will not act except in self defense and will not initiate confrontations.” “Some of those few (who attacked security forces) are manipulated by foreign hands because of the kingdom’s honorable foreign policy positions towards Arab and Islamic countries,” the ministry’s spokesman said in the statement.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has named an ambassador to Iraq to re-establish full diplomatic ties for the first time since Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said yesterday. “For the first time since 1990, the Saudis have named an ambassador to Iraq,” Zebari said. Iraq will quickly approve the nomination of a non-resident Saudi ambassador, the Iraqi premier’s spokesman said.