Iran Under Fire at the Munich Security Conference

Much news is coming from the Munich Security Conference, including demands by Saudi Arabia that Iran be punished.  They call for justice over allegations that Iran was propping up the Syrian government, developing ballistic missiles and funding separatists in Yemen.

On Sunday, the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told delegates at the conference that Iran is the main sponsor of global ‘terrorism’ and a destabilizing force in the Middle East. “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world,” he said, “It’s determined to upend the order in the Middle East … [and] until and unless Iran changes its behavior, it would be very difficult to deal with a country like this.”

Jubeir also called for the international community to set clear ‘red lines’ and to establish restrictions for banking, travel and trade aimed at changing Iran’s behavior.

The Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, claimed that Iran’s ultimate objective was to undermine Saudi Arabia. He said that a dialogue between Israel and Arab countries is necessary to defeat “radical” elements in the region. He told the Munich conference delegates on Sunday,”The real division is not Jews, Muslims … but moderate people versus radical people.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, criticized Iran’s sectarian policies aimed at undermining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. “Turkey is very much against any kind of division, religious or sectarian,” he said.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif,  had earlier appealed to the Arab Gulf states to work with his country to reduce violence across the region, saying, “We have enough problems in this region so we want to start a dialogue with countries we call brothers in Islam.” Zarif dismissed any suggestions that Iran would seek to develop nuclear weapons.

He said Iran did not respond well to threats or sanctions, when asked about the new US administration’s tough rhetoric on Iran’s role in the region and their intentions regarding the nuclear deal.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said he and other US senators were preparing legislation to further sanction Iran for violating UN Security Council resolutions with its missile development programme and other actions. He stated, ”It is now time for the Congress to take Iran on directly in terms of what they’ve done outside the nuclear programme.”

Democratic Senator Christopher Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the US needs to decide if they must to take a broader role in the regional conflict, ”We have to make a decision whether we are going to get involved in the emerging proxy war in a bigger way than we are today, between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” 

Last year, international sanctions on Iran were lifted under the JCPOA, better know as the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.  Under the new US administration, 

Republican senators at the conference said they will press for new US measures over the missiles issue and what they called Iran’s actions to “destabilize” the Middle East.