Sahel not important for KSA defense-wise: Prof. Hunter

TEHRAN, Mar. 03 (MNA) – Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, tells the Tehran Times that that “From a defense perspective the Sahel is not very important for Saudi Regime or the UAE.”

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, touches upon Saudi Arabia’s policies in regards with the Sahel region in Africa where a joint military forces is supposed to combat ISIL terrorists.

Professor Hunter also says that “However, in terms of Saudi claim to the leadership of the Islamic world their cooperation is useful.”

She also adds that “I don't think competition with Iran is the main objective of Saudi Arabia in trying to endear itself toe the Sahel countries.”

Following is the full text of the interview:

Saudi Regime and UAE have pledged to financially back a five-nation coalition force in the Sahel region of West Africa. What are the reasons behind such funding?

The financial contribution made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was mostly to please the French who organized the Summit. Another goal could be to gain the good will of these countries most of which are Muslim. Also Saudi Arabia and the UAE use some these countries in various coalition they form. The participation of these countries gives the impression Saudi operations such as the one in Yemen have broad support;

What is the strategic importance of the Sahel region for Saudi Regime and UAE?

From a defense perspective the Sahel is not very important for Saudi Arabia or the UAE .However, in terms of Saudi claim to the leadership of the Islamic world their cooperation is useful.

One of the reasons as to why Saudi Regime and UAE joined the initiative is to contain the influence of Iran and Qatar in the Sahel region. Basically what are these countries competing for in the Sahel region?

I don't think competition with Iran is the main objective of Saudi Arabia in trying to endear itself toe the Sahel countries.

Right after that Saudi Regime and UAE joined G5 Sahel force summit in Paris and pledged their support, Qatar’s emir visited the region to sign trade and economic deals. How much potential do have the Sahel region to help Qatar get rid of the hardship caused by Saudi Regime and its allies?

Most of Sahel countries are very poor and underdeveloped and lack viable armies. Therefore, they cannot be much help to Qatar in its standoff with Saudi Arabia. The visit of emir of Qatar has more symbolic value and is intended to show that Saudi intimidation has not stopped Qatar to pursue its activist foreign policy.

Interview by Javad Heirannia

MNA/ TT

News Code 132553

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