LONDON Dec 8 British Foreign Secretary Boris
Johnson has said that Saudi Arabia and Iran are stoking proxy
wars across the Middle East while some politicians in the region
are abusing Islam, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Britain has a long alliance with Saudi Arabia which is a
major customer for British defence companies, though Britain's
ties with Iran have been tumultuous since the 1979 Islamic
Johnson, who was appointed foreign minister by Prime
Minister Theresa May in July, told an audience in Rome last week
that the absence of real leadership in the Middle East had
allowed people to twist religion and stoke proxy wars.
"You've got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in, and
puppeteering and playing proxy wars. And it is a tragedy to
watch it," Johnson was shown saying in footage posted on the
It is unclear from the footage whether he specifically
accused Saudi and Iran of twisting religion, though the Guardian
newspaper reported that Johnson had accused Saudi Arabia of
"There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion
and different strains of the same religion in order to further
their own political objectives. That's one of the biggest
political problems in the whole region," Johnson said.
A former journalist and mayor of London known for often
outlandish comments and comical behaviour, Johnson was the
leading voice in the campaign for Britain to leave the European
A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain was an ally of Saudi
Arabia and that any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.
"As the Foreign Secretary made very clear on Sunday, we are
allies with Saudi Arabia and support them in their efforts to
secure their borders and protect their people. Any suggestion to
the contrary is wrong and misinterpreting the facts," the
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Heavens)