The former chief of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services gave a full-throated defense of his country’s foreign policy Monday, speaking to CNBC at the sidelines of the planet Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Prince Turki al Faisal, who ran the Saudi kingdom’s intelligence agency through 1979 to 2001 in addition to can be an influential member of the Saudi royal family, rejected criticism in which the country was overreaching in its regional activities. He instead pointed to Iran, noting the presence of Iranian-backed militants in conflict zones like Syria in addition to Iraq.
“This particular can be not Saudi Arabia in which can be sending troops to different countries like Iran can be doing in Syria for example, in addition to Iraq in addition to even in Yemen. This particular can be not Saudi Arabia in which can be instigating sectarian violence in any country, This particular can be not Saudi Arabia in which can be recruiting militias through Afghanistan in addition to Pakistan in addition to wherever else to fight in Syria in addition to Iraq in addition to so on. So I don’t see how people can accuse Saudi Arabia of overreaching,” he said.
The comments come against the backdrop of historically high tensions between the Sunni kingdom in addition to its Shia arch-rival Iran. The two have rival interests in addition to alliances across the Middle East, through Syria to Lebanon, Yemen to Qatar. Regional conflicts in these countries often see Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia in addition to Shia-majority Iran supporting different factions in which are frequently split down religious lines.