The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a stern warning on Monday to any and all Saudis considering sneaking into Syria to help fight for either side. The warning was, simply, don’t do it.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki told AP, “Involvement in the Syrian crisis is against Saudi laws.” He also said Saudi authorities would “crack down” on those planning to travel to Syria.
Gulf News estimates hundreds of Saudi youth have snuck into Syria via Jordan and Turkey. Al-Turki said the government had intelligence “of some Saudi citizens” in Syria, but did not have specific numbers.
Al-Turki made his announcement a day after Chinese President Xi Jingping made a statement during his first foreign trip to Russia that “foreign meddling” in domestic affairs was not welcome.
"We must respect the right of each country in the world to independently choose its path of development, and oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries," Xi said in his address to students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Saturday.
China, Iran and Russia have been staunch allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. China and Russia, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have blocked three draft resolutions against Syria.
Saudi Arabia has been a vocal supporter of the Syrian opposition, which is majority Sunni Muslim. The Saudi government has been at loggerheads for years with Iran, which is majority Shiite Muslim, for influence in the Middle East and Gulf region.
Last week Saudi Arabia announced it had arrested 18 people, including one Iranian and one Lebanese man, in connection with an alleged spying ring, working for “a foreign state.” The government did not name which state, but many assumed they were talking about Iran. Iran has denied any connection with these arrests.
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.