Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Ahmad al-Jubeir has said in an interview with French newspaper Liberation on Thursday October 24 that "Those in the Iranian administration who talk about negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have no power."
"Members of the Iranian administration talk about negotiations but they do not have any power. On the other hand, those such as the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who have the power in Iran are not willing to negotiate," Adil al-Jubayr said.
Mr. Al-Jubeir, who was Foreign Minister before being appointed as State Minister, made the comment in response to a question about France's mediation attempts between Iran and the United States about a deal that among other things, would lift U.S. sanctions against Iran.
He said: "We believe appeasement and giving concessions will not work. What is important is action not words. People in the Iranian government can talk but do not have the power to act."
"Why this permanent aggression towards Saudi Arabia?" Al-Jubeir asked, adding: "Each time we reached out we only had death and destruction as an answer. The problem with Iran is that we do not know whether it is a revolution or a nation-state. If Iran is a revolution, we cannot deal with it because it is irrational and emotional. And if it is a nation-state, it must act as such."
Al-Jubayr was possibly alluding to the fact that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has the final say in Iran's foreign policy and President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are not allowed to take any decision in the area of foreign policy without Khamenei's permission.
This was proved once again in late September during Rouhani and Zarif's visit to New York to take part at the UN General Assembly meetings. While in New York, French President Emmanuelle Macron made every effort to facilitate a meeting between Rouhani and U.S. President Donald Trump that would have lifted some of the sanctions on Tehran, but Rouhani evaded a meeting or even a telephone conversation as he was not authorized by Khamenei.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an unusually dangerous peak after the attack on Aramco oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia in September for which Iran was blamed.
Since the attack on Aramco, many including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have tried to bring about a solution to the region's most significant crisis, by offering mediation between Tehran and Riyadh.
Imran Khan visited the two capitals and each side presented a peace plan for the conflicts in Yemen, which has been the venue of a proxy war between the two countries since 2015.
Both sides want an immediate cease-fire in Yemen, but Iran is unhappy about the role the Saudis propose for Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi as President and General Mohsen al-Ahmar as chief of defense. Meanwhile, Iran cannot believe that an election will be held in Yemen within 6 months if Mansur Hadi is in charge.
However, after Riyadh announced in October that it prefers a political solution to military confrontation with Iran, Zarif has recently said that Iran would certainly welcome a settlement at the negotiating table rather than a solution that would lead to more bloodshed.
In the meantime, Al-Jubeir has been visiting Paris while it appears that a French initiative to reduce tensions between Iran and America is still alive. But Tehran insists that sanctions on Iran should be lifted before any negotiations with America and the U.S. is adamant to continue its policy of maximum pressure on Iran until Tehran changes its behavior and, among other things, limits its regional ambitions.
It was in reference to the French initiative that Adil al-Jubeir told Liberation that "appeasement does not work as a policy in case of Iran," adding that "the only solution to bring Iran to the negotiating table is maximum pressure."
Meanwhile, according to Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia has hosted a meeting between the Yemeni government and separatists in the South of Yemen and an agreement is in sight. He insisted, this will reinforce the troops that are fighting the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.