America convened a high-level Middle East summit in Poland on Wednesday, designed to show international resilience in the face of Iranian aggression throughout the region.
The event is attended by about 60 countries and the agenda also covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the fight against Daesh, Syria and Yemen. But the bulk of the focus will be on Iran, and how to curtail the regime’s aggressive foreign policy in the region.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz greeted the attendees at the opening ceremony, including Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir. Mike Pompeo on Thursday called Iran the top threat in the Middle East, and said confronting the country is key to reaching peace in the entire region.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said Saudi Arabia joined the conference “to take a firm stand against forces that threaten the future of peace and security in the region. Especially the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism: the Iranian regime that continues to destabilize our region and launch ballistic missiles against civilians,” Prince Khalid said.
“The Iranian regime has been facing a popular uprising in Iran for a year and has not been able, despite using all kinds of repression, to control or quell this uprising, so it has once again started to export terrorism to the world and plan terrorist operations,” Sanabargh Zahedi, Chairman of the Judicial Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Arab News. We now want to confront this phenomenon and call upon the international community to take firmer steps against this regime.”
Pressure has been growing on Iran since Donald Trump last year withdrew the US from a deal designed to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
European powers stuck with the accord and their unhappiness at Trump’s move was reflected by a reduced presence in Warsaw.
Predictably, Iran also voiced its disapproval at the meeting. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad said: “It is another attempt by the United States to pursue an obsession with Iran that is not well-founded.”
Netanyahu is keen to build closer ties with Arab countries which share his concern of the Iranian threat in the region, particularly the presence of Iranian proxy militias in Syria where Israel carried out further strikes on Monday.
“We are operating every day against Iran and its attempts to establish its presence in the area. In a room of some 60 foreign ministers and representatives of dozens of governments, an Israeli prime minister and the foreign ministers of the leading Arab countries stood together and spoke with unusual force, clarity, and unity against the common threat of the Iranian regime. I think this marks a change, an important understanding of what threatens our future,” said Netanyahu.
Oman’s foreign minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, said people in the Middle East have “suffered a lot” because they stick to the past. He said Wednesday’s meeting reflects a “new era” for the region.
Nathan Tek, US State Department spokesman in the Middle East, told Arab News that “the broad agenda of the conference, will reinvigorate efforts to address the region’s many challenges by revitalizing our alliances and partnerships. From weapons proliferation and humanitarian crises, to terrorism and energy security, these issues and others pose serious threats to stability in the region and to security around the world. The conference will provide countries an opportunity to share their assessments of the region and offer ideas on how to solve our shared problems.”
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said he wanted to focus on ending the crisis in Yemen, AFP reported. Hunt met Tuesday evening in Warsaw jointly with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior officials from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are both supporting the Yemeni government against the Iran-backed Houthis as part of a regional military coalition. Hunt said he hoped to expand on a seven-week ceasefire that has largely held in the crucial port city of Hodeidah, reported Arab News. “We now have a shortening window of opportunity to turn the ceasefire into a durable path to peace – and stop the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Hunt said.
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