The war in Yemen is not a war that we wanted. We had no other option - there was a radical militia allied with Iran and Hezbollah that took over the country. It was in possession of heavy weapons, ballistic missiles and even an air force. Should we stand by idly while this happens at our doorstep, in one of the countries in which al-Qaida has a huge presence? So we responded, as part of a coalition, at the request of the legitimate government of Yemen, and we stepped in to support them.
Let's not forget: This all began when you had eight- and nine-year-old children writing graffiti on walls. Their parents were told: "You will never see them again. If you want to have children, go to your wife and make new ones." [Bashar] Assad's people rebelled. He crushed them brutally. But his military could not protect him. So he asked the Iranians to come in and help.
After the revolution of 1979, Iran embarked on a policy of sectarianism. Iran began a policy of expanding its revolution, of interfering with the affairs of its neighbors, a policy of assassinating diplomats and of attacking embassies. Iran is responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in the Kingdom, it is responsible for smuggling explosives and drugs into Saudi Arabia. And Iran is responsible for setting up sectarian militias in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, whose objective is to destabilize those countries.
What we want is stability and security so we can focus on our own development. But we have these problems in our region, and nobody has been able to resolve them. The whole world was saying that the countries of the regions should step up and resolve their problems, so we stepped up.
We believe that introducing surface-to-air missiles in Syria is going to change the balance of power on the ground. It will allow the moderate opposition to be able to neutralize the helicopters and aircraft that are dropping chemicals and have been carpet-bombing them, just like surface-to-air missiles in Afghanistan were able to change the balance of power there.
The Middle East has gone through periods of turmoil before. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were revolutions. When monarchies were collapsing in a number of countries, we had radicals and we had Nasserism. Today it's a little bit more complicated.
I don't believe in the theory that the United States is reducing its presence in the Middle East. Quite the contrary, in the Gulf, we see an increase in American military presence, as well as an increase in American investments. The argument is more accurate when one says America is focusing more attention to the Far East. But I don't believe it comes at the expense of the Middle East.