WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (KUNA) -- The former head of Saudi intelligence called on US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday not to do away with the Iran nuclear deal, noting that it has provided the international community with 15 years of respite, as well as a means of "policing" Tehran.
"I would rather see that this nuclear deal becomes a first step in ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons," including those of Israel, Prince Turki Bin Faisal Al Saud told attendees of the Middle East Institute's 70th annual conference.
"We want in Saudi Arabia to have peace," he said. "Iran can be a constructive player if it wants to, and that is something the Iranian people themselves ought to demand of their leadership," he said.
But the prince, who previously served as Saudi ambassador to the US, also warned that if the Trump administration chooses to strike a deal with Russia and Iran over Syria, that would be "the most disastrous thing that could happen."
The president-elect praised Russian President Vladimir Putin during his campaign, and called him a "stronger" leader than President Barack Obama. He also suggested he could work with Moscow to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Trump "should get together with America's friends in the Middle East" to stop "the biggest terrorist," Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Prince Turki said.
He also urged the real estate mogul to "pack his bags" and visit US allies in the region before his inauguration in January.
Mohsen Milani, the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies and Professor of Politics at the University of South Florida, took issue with the prince's claims that Iran is the "bad guy" in the Syrian conflict.
While Moscow uses aerial power to back Al-Assad's regime, Tehran has sent in its Revolutionary Guard to help Syrian soldiers reclaim territory from both IS and rebel forces.
"To start blaming only one part is the recipe for continued disaster in the Middle East," Milani said. "As long as Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaged in this Cold War, nothing is going to be done."
While Iranian newspapers were shocked at Trump's election, Milani noted, Tehran had a more "reasonable" reaction because it believes that a willingness to work with Russia to fight IS could also mean a willingness to work with Iran.
Trump is seen by the Islamic Republic as easier to deal with than Obama, as he is believed to be honest and forthcoming about his intentions versus a more traditional politician, Milani explained.
As a businessman, the president-elect should use the nuclear deal to accelerate Iran's entry into the world economy, he said.
"This makes perfect economic sense for our billionaire president who wants to create jobs," Milani said, adding that no country in the Middle East is a better place for investment right now than Iran. (end)