2005 News Story

Foreign affairs advisor comments on Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, reforms in Saudi Arabia, the State Department’s human rights report, and the Abu Ali case.
Crown Prince Abdullah's foreign affairs advisor Adel Al-Jubeir was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN's 'Late Edition' on March 6, 2005

Appearing on CNN’s Late Edition, Saudi foreign affairs advisor Adel Al-Jubeir was asked to comment on a plethora of Middle-East-related issues. On the issue of Syria’s troop withdrawal from Lebanon, Al-Jubeir said: “We believe that the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 requires a full withdrawal in as expeditious a manner as possible.  The technical details will have to be worked out between the Syrians and the Lebanese, as well as with the UN.  The secretary-general is sending his very capable emissary Terje-Larsen to the region in the next three days to talk to regional players including the Syrian and Lebanese governments to talk about the details.  Then he will report to the Security Council to determine what the next steps are to be.”

[full transcript of interview


Al-Jubeir hesitated to predict how a Syrian troop presence or non-presence would affect Lebanese parliamentary elections.  He explained, “We have to be careful in terms of the Lebanese security situation.  I believe at the end of the day it is inevitable that Syria will comply with UN Security Council resolutions.  The president has said so yesterday.  He said he would comply with 1559, and I believe that 1559 is very clear of what is required...It is important to have experts assess the pace of withdrawal...It shouldn’t come too slowly, and it shouldn’t come too quickly...in order to keep the country stable.”

When asked about the nature of the conversation between Syrian President al-Assad and Crown Prince Abdullah, Al-Jubeir would only say:  “The Crown Prince is known to be a very honest, sincere, and direct person.”

On the issue of democratization in Saudi Arabia, Al-Jubeir said:  “We are a country that is reforming in a comprehensive manner.  We are doing so because it is in our best interests and the interests of our citizens.  We are not doing so in response to external pressures ...... We are opening up our economy, we are creating jobs, we are opening up our media, we are opening up public space for public discussions.”

On the State Department’s human rights report, Al-Jubeir responded:  “We always take issue with the human rights report because we believe many of the items listed in it are just not correct.  If they consider corporal punishments or the executions of drug dealers, rapists and murderers as cruel and inhumane punishment, that’s their opinion.  It is part of our faith in that is how we punish people.  With regards to torture and arresting people without proper procedures, we also take exceptions with this.  There are violations that have taken place in Saudi Arabia, like they do in every country.  We investigate those and punish the officials responsible for them.”

Asked specifically about the case of Ahmed Abu Ali, Al-Jubeir noted that Abu Ali was visited on a regular basis by U.S. officials, who saw no evidence of him having been mentally or physically abused.  Al-Jubeir concluded, “I think the allegation is preposterous.  Perhaps it’s his lawyer trying to strengthen his client’s case by making him seem to be innocent.  The U.S. government is fully aware of why he was detained.  He was part of what we believe was a dangerous operation they were trying to do.  We decided that he should be tried in the U.S., because his family also wanted him tried here.  That is the reason why we handed him over to the U.S.  But the charges of torture are completely unsubstantiated.”