(CNSNews.com) – Arab neighbors rallied around Saudi Arabia following allegations of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, while Iran sought to undo any diplomatic damage, urging the kingdom not to fall into a “trap” that would benefit the U.S. and Israel.
The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the six-nation group comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – issued a statement calling the alleged plot a “flagrant and unacceptable violation of all laws, conventions and international norms, seriously harming the relations between the GCC member countries on the one hand and Iran on the other hand.”
GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani also praised security agencies in the U.S. for foiling the plan.
Iran’s Qods Force is accused of trying to recruit a Mexican drug cartel to mount terror attacks on U.S. soil, beginning with a D.C. restaurant bombing designed to kill Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir. The Qods Force is the foreign operations unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a body answerable to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
President Obama during a press conference Thursday said that an Iranian-American who has been indicted in the assassination plot “had direct links, was paid by and directed by individuals in the Iranian government.”
Also expressing support for Saudi Arabia was Kuwaiti foreign minister Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah. He said Kuwait “condemns in the strongest words the hideous terrorist attempt, hopes that all details of the event be revealed to the public and its mastermind be exposed so that it, be they organizations or persons, should pay the price,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The Bahraini News Agency carried a statement saying Bahrain regarded any attack against Saudi Arabia as one against itself. The foiled plot contradicted human values and ethics and was evidence of a failure to respect diplomatic norms, it said.
Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Jodah said Jordan condemned any act aimed at harming Saudi Arabia or its representatives, SPA reported.
It said Jodah expressed the hoped that “whoever was thinking to carry out this shameful act or his mastermind would be brought to justice to face their legal deterrent punishment as they were trying to become tools to harm the forces of good will in this world.”
The Saudi daily Arab News quoted Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal as saying in Vienna Thursday that the kingdom would have a “measured response” to any action Iran may take against it.
Stronger language came from Prince Turki al-Faisal, the influential former intelligence chief, who Reuters quoted as telling a conference in London that “the burden of proof and the amount of evidence in the case is overwhelming and clearly shows official Iranian responsibility” for the plot.
“Somebody in Iran will have to pay the price,” said Turki, who was al-Jubeir’s immediate predecessor as ambassador to Washington and is thought likely to be a future foreign minister.
Meeting in Cairo, Arab League ambassadors also condemned the alleged plot.
“Such terrorist plots constitute a flagrant violation of the international laws and the conventions governing the state-to-state relations,” the 22-member organization said in a statement. “They also undermine the efforts aiming to establish peace and stability in the Middle East and other parts of the world, thus impacting negatively on the Arab-Iranian ties particularly the GCC-Iranian relations.”
Syria, the Arab League member most closely allied to Iran, distanced itself from the statement.
Syrian ambassador Youssef al-Ahmad said that although Saudi Arabia was “a sisterly country” any statement against Iran should be based on clear-cut evidence, Damascus’ SANA news agency reported.
It said al-Ahmad warned against U.S. attempts to use Arab states as a tool against Iran.
That line from President Bashar Assad’s regime echoed the message being put out in Tehran, where deputy foreign minister Ali Ahani said Iran hoped Saudi Arabia would be wise to the American scheme.
“I am asking Saudi Arabia not to fall into the trap, because any disturbance in relations between countries in the region will only benefit the United States and the Zionist regime,” the IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
Iranian foreign minister Ali-Akbar Salehi expressed optimism that the U.S. accusations would not ring true in the region.
“Of course, our friends in the Persian Gulf region are familiar with these devilish conspiracies,” he told reporters, predicting that the U.S. would eventually be forced to apologize to Iran.
A senior IRGC commander gave the organization’s first public response to the accusations, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said repeated foreign policy failures led U.S. officials to fabricate “ridiculous, false and unfounded” charges in a bid to create a rift among Muslims and divert world attention from “the failure of the capitalist system.”
Saudi’s Arab News said in an editorial that those skeptical of the U.S. allegations should reconsider.
“Saudi Arabia believes the assassination plot to be true,” it said. “It would not do so without compelling evidence. It believes those responsible want to sow divisions between the Saudi people, destabilize the Kingdom and, beyond it, the region. It will not work but the fact that it has been tried is profoundly shocking.”