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Sun 29 Mar 2015 05:31 PM

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Putin letter to Arab summit triggers strong Saudi attack

Saudi Arabia accuses Russian President of hypocrisy over support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad

Putin letter to Arab summit triggers strong Saudi attack

Saudi Arabia accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy on Sunday, telling an Arab summit that he should not express support for the Middle East while fuelling instability by supporting Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad.

In a rare move, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi announced that a letter from Putin would be read out to the gathering in Egypt, where Arab leaders discussed an array of regional crises, including conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

"We support the Arabs' aspirations for a prosperous future and for the resolution of all the problems the Arab world faces through peaceful means, without any external interference," Putin said in the letter.

His comments triggered a sharp attack from Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal.

"He speaks about the problems in the Middle East as though Russia is not influencing these problems," he told the summit right after the letter was read out.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia have been cool over Moscow's support for Assad, whom Riyadh opposes. The civil war between Assad's forces and rebels has cost more than 200,000 lives in four years.

"They speak about tragedies in Syria while they are an essential part of the tragedies befalling the Syrian people, by arming the Syrian regime above and beyond what it needs to fight its own people," Prince Saud said.

"I hope that the Russian president corrects this so that the Arab world's relations with Russia can be at their best level."

The Saudi rebuke may have been awkward for summit host Egypt, which depends heavily on billions of dollars in support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab allies, but has also improved ties with Moscow.

In February, Putin received a grand welcome in Egypt, signalling a rapprochement.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Nawaaf 5 years ago

Russia is a great country, I personally respect Putin for his stand for his country and his peoples' interests. But I also feel pain for Russia's support for Bashar Al Assad, who is killing so savagely his own people, just because they took to the streets demanding their freedom from his terrene! Syria is a country blessed whit great resources, not the least of those resources, are the people being destroyed by Bashar and those who are backing him, namely Russia and Iran! Russia's locking horns with the West is crushing the Syrians and their country! I honestly believe, that Russia's interests in Syria and the region, can be served without siding with a regime that is by international law is losing legitimacy.
Putin, Our region has so many problems and challenges that the new generation is facing, I personally hope and pray that you can see the wisdom of siding with the positive forces instead Bashar Al Assad and His cronies the Iranians.
I hope you can see this!

tony 5 years ago

Assad and his family have been in power since decades (much like the others in the region). I guess some countries thought they could weaken Iran by giving support to the insurgents in Syria (which gave birth to ISIS).

So maybe if the other countries would have not interfered and tried to overthrow Assad, then none of this would have happened!

I do hope YOU can see this!