Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir said that the country has zero tolerance towards corruption and extremism and dismissed speculation that the shock arrests of princes and ministers amounted to a grab of power by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the media reported.
Saudi Arabia has a “zero tolerance policy on terrorism” and now, also “a zero tolerance policy on corruption,” al-Jubeir told CNN in an interview on Monday night.
“I assure you that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes very, very seriously the issue of corruption, waste, and mismanagement.
“There is a reason why everybody was brought in or detained and will be questioned and will be investigated and these have to do with the commission. I’m sure when the investigations are complete that people will know what the reasons are.”
Al-Jubeir said the arrests made on November 4 were in line with Saudi Arabia’s plans to diversify the economy and modernise society by 2030 and achieve economic growth, rejecting suggestions that the detentions could put off potential investors.
“We want investors to have confidence in our system… We want companies to know that when they come to compete in Saudi Arabia they will compete fair and square with any other company and not be subject to people using their influence or their position in order to extract better deals.”
The arrests were made following the formation of an anti-corruption committee headed by the Crown Prince.
The detainees include 11 Saudi princes and several other ministers.
In regard to the failed ballistic missile attack on Riyadh’s international airport also on November 4, al-Jubeir told CNN that it was as an “act of war by Iran” and will “respond in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time”.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for firing the projectile which was intercepted by Saudi defence forces before it hit the ground.
“It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah, from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen.
“We see this as an act of war… Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps,” he told CNN.
“This is a very, very hostile act… We have been extending our hand to Iran since 1979 in friendship, and what we get back is death and destruction.”
On Monday, Saudi Arabia closed its ports and borders with Yemen to stop Iranian penetration into the country.
He insisted however that humanitarian aid would still make it through to the millions of people suffering from malnutrition and cholera brought on by the years-long war between the Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia.
“Our objective is to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, but do it in such a way that Iran and its militias and its proxies cannot use that access in order to smuggle weapons and technology that can be re-assembled into missiles in Yemen, that will then be used against us and against the Yemeni people,” the minister added.