Regional Leaders at UNGA: On Iran

Top officials from across the Middle East and South Asia discussed Iran during their visits to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Some leaders welcomed the nuclear deal or proposed new dialogue with Iran while others accused Tehran of meddling in the region. The following are excerpted remarks.

Saudi Arabia
Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir
“The Iranian president is the last to discuss democracy in Syria. If it was not for Iran, there would not be the destruction and killing we see today in Syria. Iran supports Bashar Al-Assad by sending thousands of militants and fueling sectarianism between Sunnis and Shiites in Syria and the whole region. They recruit Hezbollah and other militias in the area and send them to Syria to defend Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.”
“[T]he problem in Yemen was due to Houthis, along with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overthrowing the government. The Houthis have gone to war multiple times in Yemen.  Iran has relations with the Houthis, as it provides them with weapons and specialists, and Iran is one of the main reasons behind the war in Yemen. Iran is trying to fan the flames in Yemen by smuggling weapons to the Houthis in violation of UN Resolution 2216. Their last attempt was on Saturday, when an Iranian ship loaded with weapons was intercepted.  So, Iran is the last country to speak of stability and security in Yemen. Iran is one of the main reasons for what is happening in Yemen today.”
“We have previously said that it is unacceptable to use such human tragedy politically, which happened while people were performing a religious ritual.”
“The Iranians know very well that the Kingdom will do everything in its capacity to provide and facilitate visits to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia. The Iranians realize that the Kingdom is doing tremendous work for the service of the guests of Makkah. And I believe what they said contradicts the idea of sovereignty and non-interference. The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques was clear when he ordered a thorough investigation and will hold any individual or organization accountable if found guilty. This investigation is ongoing and we will make the results public.  The Iranians are the last to speak of Hajj and pilgrims, because they have caused chaos multiple times in the past, through protests in the 80s, which resulted in a number of death due to their riots.”
—Sept. 28, 2015 in an interview with Al-Arabiya in New York

“There are parties trying to worsen and escalate the crisis in Yemen through the smuggling of arms.”
“…We welcomed the recent agreement between the group of P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which prevents Iran from the acquisition of nuclear weapons. We also call on Iran to renounce its negative interventions in Arab affairs and we are desirous of building good neighborly relations with Iran based on mutual respect and good neighborliness and non-interference in the affairs of other countries. We also call on Iran to end its occupation of the three Arab islands of the United Arab Emirates.”

—Oct. 1, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly

President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour
“Three years ago I found myself at this very podium before you…At that time I told you that Iran was hindering the continuance of the [peace] process and that that country was training Houthi militias and providing them with weapons—this through boats and vessels—so as to impose the Iranian model in Yemen.”
“We find ourselves mixed in this battle for the legitimacy of the State, to prevent the country from falling into the hands of Iran.”
“We shall not allow the Houthis, nor anyone else, to repeat the Iranian experience in Yemen.”

—Sept. 29, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly


United Arab Emirates
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
“The UAE believes that security and stability of the states of the region depend on the extent of their positive cooperation, which must take as its fundamental pillar respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. With regard to the statement by the President of Iran during this session’s general debate, I believe that Iran’s record does not qualify it to speak about the safety of the Hajj pilgrims and human rights, nor do its policies give it the right to refer to stability issues in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East. The UAE stands firm with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any Iranian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Arab States.”
“In this regard, I reiterate the United Arab Emirates rejection of Iran’s continued occupation of the UAE three islands Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, and demand restoration of the UAE full sovereignty over these islands. We also stress that all actions and measures carried out by the Iranian authorities are contrary to international law and all norms and common values. From this platform, we renew our call to the international community to urge Iran to respond to the sincere and peaceful calls of the UAE to reach a just settlement for this issue, either through serious direct negotiations between our two countries or by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice.”
—Oct. 2, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani
“The agreement between Iran and the 5+1 Group is a positive and important step. As we look forward with hope that this nuclear agreement contributes to maintaining security and stability in our region, we further demand moving forward to disarm the entire region of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction.”
“On this occasion, I assure that Iran is an important neighbor country, and that cooperation between it and our countries is in the interest of the region.”
“Bilateral relations between Qatar and Iran are growing and evolving steadily on the basis of common interests and good neighborliness. There is no dispute concerning bilateral relations between our two countries. At the level of the region there are various creeds and religions, but there is no, in my opinion, a Shiite-Sunni conflict in essence, but rather differences that are triggered by the political interests of countries, or the interests of political and social forces that foment internal sect-centric prejudices.”
“The existing disputes in my opinion, are political regional Arab-Iranian differences, rather than being a Sunni-Shiite disputes. This could be solved through dialogue, and initially agreeing on the rules governing the relationship between Iran and the Gulf States on the basis of non-interference in internal affairs. It is time to conduct a meaningful dialogue of this kind between countries that will always remain neighbors, and are not in need of mediation from anyone. We are ready to host a dialogue of this kind in Qatar.”
—Sept. 28, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
“[A]fter three days of listening to world leaders praise the nuclear deal with Iran, I begin my speech today by saying: Ladies and Gentlemen, check your enthusiasm at the door. You see, this deal doesn't make peace more likely. By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war more likely.
“Just look at what Iran has done in the last six months alone, since the framework agreement was announced in Lausanne. Iran boosted its supply of devastating weapons to Syria. Iran sent more soldiers of its Revolutionary Guard into Syria. Iran sent thousands of Afghani and Pakistani Shi’ite fighters to Syria. Iran did all this to prop up Assad's brutal regime. Iran also shipped tons of weapons and ammunitions to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, including another shipment just two days ago.

“Iran threatened to topple Jordan. Iran’s proxy Hezbollah smuggled into Lebanon SA-22 missiles to down our planes, and Yakhont cruise missiles to sink our ships. Iran supplied Hezbollah with precision-guided surface-to-surface missiles and attack drones so it can accurately hit any target in Israel. Iran aided Hamas and Islamic Jihad in building armed drones in Gaza.
“Iran also made clear its plans to open two new terror fronts against Israel, promising to arm Palestinians in the West Bank and sending its Revolutionary Guard generals to the Golan Heights, from which its operatives recently fired rockets on northern Israel.”
—Oct. 1, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
“The Syrian Arab Republic would like to congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran on its steadfastness and victory in achieving the historic agreement that fulfils the aspirations of the brotherly people of Iran, recognizes the right of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, lifts the sanctions imposed against it, as well as lifts the freeze on its assets, and leads to opening up of the international arena on this brotherly country. This agreement proves that the diligent and serious diplomatic approach is able to overcome all obstacles and result in peaceful and fair solutions for thorny files.”
“Imposing unethical unilateral coercive economic measures by the United States and the European Union contradicts the rules of international law and the principles of free trade. On this basis, we call for the lifting of the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for decades, as we renew our call to lift and stop all the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and the peoples of other countries such as Iran, DPRK, Venezuela and Belarus.”
—Oct. 2, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
“We welcome the comprehensive nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1. This shows what diplomatic engagement and multilateralism can achieve. It augurs well for the peace and security of our region and beyond.”
—Sept. 30, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
President of the Council of Ministers
“We followed with great interest the recent agreement between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, hoping that this development will open a new page in international relations and will mark the beginning of an improvement in the regional environments, which will reflect positively on the political situation in Lebanon.”
—Sept. 30, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly