Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubayi, has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided the Iraqi Government with a list of 434 Iraqi nationals currently held in Saudi jails, most of whom were convicted for drug possession and trafficking.
In a Telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Rubayi said that his talks with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin-Abdulaziz, which were attended by Prince Muqrin Bin-Abdulaziz, the General Intelligence Department chief; and Prince Naif Bin-Muhammad, assistant to the interior minister for security affairs, covered issues relating to coordination between the security and intelligence agencies of both countries as part of the war on terrorism.
Al-Rubayi pointed out that Riyadh and Baghdad have agreed to take numerous measures to strengthen border security, including monitoring the transference of funds and the movement of individuals, whether those who travel directly between the two countries or through a third country. On his departure from Saudi Arabia, Al-Rubayi carried a draft security agreement between the two countries. He said that he would convey it to the Iraqi government and if approved, it would be tantamount to a legal framework for the extradition of prisoners between the two countries.
Al-Rubayi stressed that his government wants to close the file of the Iraqi refugees, “because there is no justification for their stay in Saudi Arabia.” He quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as expressing his readiness to send his private plane to transport the remaining Iraqi refugees to Iraq. He noted that Al-Maliki has also pledged to pay 5 million Iraqi dinars to each refugee and to grant them plots of land to build their homes and begin a new life.
While Riyadh handed over to Al-Rubayi a list of names of 434 Iraqi nationals jailed in Saudi Arabia and details of their crimes, Al-Rubayi said that Iraq will hand over to Saudi Arabia a list of the names of Saudi detainees in Iraq after the Iraqi government ratifies the agreement on the extradition of prisoners between the two countries. Saudi courts handed down verdicts against 340 Iraqi nationals, of whom 306 were convicted on drug trafficking charges while 93 others are still under trial. According to Al-Rubayi, the crimes of those Iraqi detainees included “drug trafficking and possession, smuggling of alcohol, thefts, murder, unpaid debts, illegal crossing of border, overstaying residence visas, and illegal transference of funds.” Iraqi and Saudi Arabia have agreed to combat funding of terrorist activities and to enhance monitoring of transference of funds between the two countries. Al-Rubayi said: “We are convinced that funds are the fuel of terrorism and that without funds terrorist and takfiri people [those holding other Muslims as infidel] cannot carry out their plans.”
Al-Rubayi said that Iraq admires Saudi Arabia’s success in fighting terrorism, describing this Saudi experiment as “unique,” and relies on a host of social, economic, and intellectual measures.
Discussing efforts to reopen the Saudi Embassy in Iraq, Al-Rubayi said that the Saudi Embassy will be located in the vicinity of the US Embassy in Baghdad. He said that the Iraqi government is fully ready to provide utmost protection of the Saudi diplomats. He proposed three options for protecting the Saudi Embassy in Baghdad. He said: “Iraqi armed troops can protect the Saudi Embassy, or, if it wants, the Saudi government can contract a foreign security company to protect it, or the Saudi brothers can propose any other option they deem fit.” He stressed that his country is ready to take measures which he described as “exceptional” once Saudi Arabia decides to reopen its embassy in Baghdad. He stressed the importance of the Saudi diplomatic presence in Iraq, which he said “is important and would help fill the Arab void in Iraq.”