Russian President, Vladimir Putin was speaking in Turkish Capital, Ankara, on Monday (16 September 2019) in a discussion urging for peace in Yemen. Speaking alongside Turkey’s President Racep Tayyep Erdogan and Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, Putin surprisingly quoted particular line from Muslim’s holy book, al-Quran.
“And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers,” the Russian president quoted verse 103 of Surah Ali Imran, as reported by Russian Today.
The Russian President’s reference raised approving eyebrows from the audiences. Putin also referenced another lines from Quran. The verse he quoted from the Quran was verse 190 of Surah al-Baqarah:
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight against you, but do not aggress. Allah does not love the aggressors.”
The verse is about how agression is only legitimate in self-defense context, whilst jokingly suggested that Russian air defense would gladly help Saudi Arabia to protect their country for “self-defense”, as Russia have done to Iran and Turkey.
“The Quran says that any kind of violence is unacceptable, except for one kind of violence, when you protect your people,” Said Putin as reported by New York Times.
“We are ready to help Saudi Arabia protect their people,” He said. “They need to make clever decisions, as Iran did by buying our S300, as Mr. Erdogan did by deciding to buy the most advanced S400 air defense systems. These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack,” he added.
Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, seated next to Mr. Putin, nodded. It is reported that The Russian strongman’s reference was quoted with approval beforehand by Erdogan and Rouhani, who are Sunni and Shia Muslim respectively.
The leaders admonished the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths over the past five years and has utterly devastated the country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.
The war in Yemen began with a civil war between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, which was supported by Saudi Arabia. The war then escalated into wider warfare with air strikes from the Saudi-led coalition and a massive ground invasion in 2015.
Saudi-led coalition forces have not succeeded in defeating the Houthis, which are backed by Iran, even though the war has been going on for years. The Houthis have claimed a drone attack that destroyed Aramco’s oil refinery in Saudi Arabia on Saturday (14 September 2019) morning.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Yemen, and millions face the threat of starvation as the result of the civil war.