Saudi-Palestinian Talks in Riyadh to Discuss Situation in Occupied Territories

King Salman receives President Abbas in Riyadh/SPA

King Salman receives President Abbas in Riyadh

Riyadh- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud held on Wednesday talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Saudi capital, Riyadh about the latest developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The King welcomed Palestinian President and his accompanying delegation to Saudi Arabia.

For his part, Abbas expressed his happiness to meet the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, praising the stances of Saudi Arabia that support the Palestinian cause since the era of the Founder King Abdulaziz.

The reception was attended by Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State, Cabinet Member, Advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz and a number of senior officials.

Also on Wednesday, King Salman received at Al-Yamamah palace President of the Board of Directors of Al-Quds Fund Muneeb Rasheed Al-Masri, accompanied by the Fund’s members currently on a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Masri and Al-Quds Fund members thanked King Salman for the Saudi firm and supportive stances regarding the Palestinian people.

During the meeting, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques was offered Al-Quds Medal of Affiliation and Giving from Al-Quds Fund President in recognition to the King’s support for the Palestinian people and their just cause.

The audience was attended by Prince Saud bin Turki Al-Faisal, Advisor to Chairman of Board of Directors of King Faisal Center for Islamic Research and Studies; Minister of State and Cabinet’s Member Dr. Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.

(Source / 22.12.2016)

Army soldiers, allies kill six Saudi mercenaries in southern Yemen

Smoke rises after a gathering of militiamen loyal to resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is targeted by Yemeni army forces in the Pasha Bear district of the southwestern province of Ta’izz, Yemen, on December 18, 2016.

Smoke rises after a gathering of militiamen loyal to resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is targeted by Yemeni army forces in the Pasha Bear district of the southwestern province of Ta’izz, Yemen, on December 18, 2016

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have launched an operation against militiamen loyal to the resigned and Saudi-backed president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the country’s southwestern province of Ta’izz, killing a number of them.

The media bureau of the operations command in Yemen announced on Sunday that six Saudi mercenaries were killed and two others sustained injuries when Yemeni troopers engaged in clashes with them in the Pasha Bear district of the province, situated 346 kilometers (214 miles) south of the capital Sana’a, the Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Separately, Yemeni soldiers and Popular Committees fighters fired a locally-manufactured Zelzal-2 (Earthquake-2) missile at a gathering of Saudi mercenaries in the Mefraq area of the country’s northern province of al-Jawf, leaving scores of pro-Saudi gunmen dead and injured.

The developments came on the same day that pro-Hadi media outlets alleged that Saudi-backed militants had intercepted a ballistic missile and destroyed it in the west-central Ma’rib Province.

Yemeni soldiers and allied fighters also clashed with Saudi-backed militiamen in Asifrah neighborhood of Ta’izz, killing one of them.

An unnamed Yemeni military source said several pro-Saudi gunmen were killed when fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement thwarted their offensive against Boqe’e crossing in Najran, located 844 kilometers (524 miles) south of the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Moreover, a number of Saudi soldiers and their mercenaries lost their lives and sustained injuries when Yemeni forces repelled their assault against the Alab border crossing in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern and border region of Asir.

Saudi fighter jets also carried a string of airstrikes against residential neighborhoods across Yemen, leaving several people killed and injured.

Yemenis inspect the damage in an area near the communications tower hit by Saudi airstrikes in the port city of Hudaydah on November 27, 2016

A civilian lost his life when Saudi warplanes bombarded the Razih district in Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada.

Saudi aircraft also launched more than a dozen aerial attacks against Monabbih, Kahlan and As Safra districts in the same Yemeni province.

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a deadly campaign against Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the former Yemeni government.

The airstrikes have taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

The Saudi aerial bombardment campaign has claimed 11,403 lives and left 19,343 others wounded, according to figures compiled by the Yemeni non-governmental monitoring group Legal Center for Rights and Development.

Yemen is also grappling with the scarcity of food supplies and an outbreak of diseases amid the Saudi war.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 7.4 million Yemeni children are in dire need of medical help, and 370,000 run the risk of acute malnutrition.

(Source / 19.12.2016)

Saudi contributes $61.6m to PA budget

Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, on 23 February 2015. [Thaer Ganaim/APA Images]

Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, on 23 February 2015

The Saudi Ambassador to Egypt Ahmed Qattan said the Saudi Fund for Development has transferred $61.6 million to the Palestinian Authority.

In remarks to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Qattan said that the amount was paid in instalments over an eight month period from April to November this year. Some $7.7 million as sent every month.

Qattan explained that the instalments are part of the kingdom’s contribution and monthly support for the Palestinian Authority’s budget, stressing that the kingdom will continue to support the Palestinian cause on all political, economic and humanitarian levels.

The Director General of the Budget Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, Farid Ghannam, said that Riyadh stopped paying its monthly financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority for nearly seven months. However, Palestine’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassam Al-Agha, said Saudi Arabia did not halt its financial aid, but had temporarily postponed it.

(Source / 16.12.2016)

Saudi to remove Muslim Brotherhood from terrorist lists

Image of Mohamed Morsi (R) and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (L) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 11th July 2012 [Apaimages]

Image of Mohamed Morsi (R) and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (L) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 11th July 2012

Saudi Arabia plans to remove the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from terrorist lists.

The group was banned in the kingdom in March 2014.

Senior-level sources stated that there has recently been discussions and meetings held in London, Riyadh, and Istanbul between Muslim Brotherhood officials and representatives of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz’s government resulting in the possibility of removing the group’s name from the terrorist lists in exchange for understandings between Saudi Arabia and the Brotherhood’s international organisation.

The sources noted that the decision expected to be made soon will be followed by a group of measures including lifting the restrictions imposed on individuals affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood inside Saudi Arabia, unfreezing millions of dollars belonging to the individuals in Saudi banks, and removing any obstacles preventing individuals affiliated with the group from entering Saudi territories.

They added that Egyptian-Saudi relations have been tense since Egypt voted in favour of a Russian project regarding the situation in Syria in the UN Security Council. Saudi Arabia responded to the vote by stopping oil shipments to Egypt. This may have contributed to facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission to normalise relations with Riyadh.

According to the sources, the normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and the Brotherhood will not be limited to removing the group’s name from the terrorist lists, but will be followed by political support for the group and the intervention of international parties to impose a reconciliation with the Egyptian government and reintegrate the group into the political scene due to Saudi Arabia’s desire to direct harsh blows to the government.

(Source / 09.12.2016)

Human Rights Watch: US May Be Complicit In Saudi War Crimes In Yemen

“The Obama administration is running out of time to completely suspend U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia or be forever linked to Yemen wartime atrocities.”

A man holds a cluster comb fragment after a Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen's capital, Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

A Houthi rebel man holds a US-made cluster bomb fragment after a Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen’s capital, Monday, April 20, 2015

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over the war in Yemen, and said the United States might be complicit in “atrocities” by supplying bombs.

The New York-based group said more than 160 people were killed in one month, mostly by U.S. bombs sold to the Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi rebels. It said the U.S. arms were supplied after earlier violations had been publicized, and were used in airstrikes in September and October.

“The Obama administration is running out of time to completely suspend U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia or be forever linked to Yemen wartime atrocities,” Human Rights Watch researcher Priyanka Motaparthy said.

A Saudi-led coalition supported by the United States launched an air campaign on behalf of Yemen’s internationally recognized government in March 2015. The year before, the Houthis had seized much of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

More than 4,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict, and some 3 million have been displaced. The fighting, along with an air and sea blockade by the coalition, has pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died not long after the photo was taken. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago. (AP Photo/Maad al-Zikry, File)

Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died not long after the photo was taken. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago

Rights groups have investigated dozens of airstrikes that targeted weddings, busy markets, hospitals, and schools. They have accused the coalition of committing war crimes and called for an international investigation.

The Human Rights Watch report released Thursday included findings from an investigation into an air raid in Arhab, a town north of Sanaa, on Sept. 10 that killed 31 civilians, including several first responders, and wounded more than 40.

HRW said fragments of the weapons used in the attack show they were produced in the U.S. in October 2015, after several rights groups had already reported alleged violations.

Ten days later, warplanes struck a three-story house near a funeral, killing more than 28 civilians and wounding 32 in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, the group said.

“Governments selling weapons to Saudi Arabia cannot with any credibility rely on either coalition or Yemeni-led investigations to determine whether these weapons are being used against civilians,” Motaparthy said. “The U.S., U.K., and others selling weapons to Saudi Arabia should suspend these sales until unlawful attacks are curtailed and properly investigated.”

(Source / 09.12.2016)

Saudi airstrikes rain down on Yemen

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a campaign against Yemen since March 2015. (AFP/File)

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a campaign against Yemen since March 2015

Saudi warplanes have carried out a series of new aerial attacks against areas across Yemen.

On Tuesday morning, Saudi fighter jets launched nearly two dozen airstrikes against Baqim, Kitaf wa al-Boqe’e, Majz, al-Dhaher, Monabbih, and Thu’ban districts in the northwestern Yemeni province of Sa’ada. There were, however, no immediate reports on possible casualties and the extent of the damage caused, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Saudi artillery units also pounded several areas in the Monabbih and Shada’a districts of the same Yemeni province, but no reports of fatalities were available.

Additionally, Saudi military aircraft bombarded various areas in the Nihm district of the capital province of Sana’a.

A military camp was hit in the al-Khawkhah district of the coastal western province of Hudaydah. A number of areas were targeted in the Bayt al-Faqih district as well.

Meanwhile, militants suspected of affiliation to the al-Qaeda network have reportedly attacked a crude oil pipeline in the southern province of Shabwah.

A local source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pipeline was carrying oil to the industrial port town of Balhaf.

The al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of the chaos and the breakdown of security in Yemen caused by the Saudi war to tighten its grip on the southern and southeastern parts of the impoverished crisis-stricken country.

Separately, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has failed to convince Kuwaiti authorities to host a fresh round of UN-brokered peace talks between representatives from Yemen’s warring sides.

The senior UN official met and discussed the latest regional developments with Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah during his 5-day-long stay in Kuwait City.

Kuwaiti authorities have said they would no more host the talks between the parties to the Yemeni conflict and would only host a potential ceremony to sign a peace agreement.

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a campaign against Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to bring back the former Yemeni government to power.

The impoverished Arab country is grappling with the scarcity of food supplies and an outbreak of diseases amid the Saudi Arabian war.

The UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 7.4 million Yemeni children are in dire need of medical help, and 370,000 run the risk of acute malnutrition.

(Source / 06.12.2016)

Arab League attempts mediation between Saudi, Egypt

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League, at a joint press conference with the Tunisian Foreign Minister (not seen) at the Foreign Ministry in Tunis on September 2, 2016

Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit visited Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz to attempt to mediate a reconciliation between the monarchy and Egypt following months of discord and recriminations, diplomatic sources revealed yesterday.

According to sources cited by Egyptian media outlets, Aboul Gheit was making attempts at trying to break the ice on relations that have been damaged by Egyptian diplomatic moves seen as hostile to the oil-rich monarchy, and Riyadh’s decision to freeze oil supplies to Cairo.

Aboul Gheit was apparently trying to bridge the schisms that have formed between the two countries and to see if he could bring their viewpoints into synchrony or at least acceptance of each other.

The diplomatic sources said that Aboul Gheit’s sudden visit to Saudi Arabia, which was not on his schedule diplomatic agenda, suggests that there are wider efforts to foster mediation, noting the Arab League’s executive office as having just announced the news about the visit recently.

An official statement issued by the Arab League said that the aim of Aboul Gheit’s visit to Saudi Arabia was to discuss with King Salman multilateral ties among Arab countries represented by the League.

“Aboul Gheit’s discussions with King Salman discussed the situation of the Arabs in general and the role of the Arab League in maintaining Arab unity, as well as the challenges currently facing Arab countries.”

(Source / 20.11.2016)

Support for Palestinian refugees religious duty: Saudi Arabia

king-salman

RIYADH: The Saudi cabinet, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace, on Monday reaffirmed the kingdom’s continued support for Palestinian refugees out of the belief that it is a religious and humanitarian duty.

According to a report published by Arab News, the cabinet reviewed a number of issues and the latest developments at regional and international levels, including Saudi Arabia’s affirmation at the UN of its continued support for Palestinian refugees and for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to achieve their humanitarian objectives.

The cabinet reiterated that Saudi Arabia will continue to provide care to more than five million Palestinians; the kingdom tops the list of main donors to their cause.

The cabinet also discussed the speech delivered at the UN by the kingdom’s representative on behalf of the Arab group on Article 50 on the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people, during which it expressed its deep concern about the escalation of violence, acts of provocation and aggression by Israeli occupation forces and terrorist settlers against Palestinians.

The cabinet deplored Israel’s persistence in challenging UN resolutions, and reiterated that the kingdom welcomes the French initiative calling for an international peace conference, according to the terms of reference of the peace process, particularly the Arab Peace Initiative.

The cabinet also expressed appreciation for the measures taken by the first meeting of the Commission of Economic and Development Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), established upon the directive by King Salman with the aim of enhancing joint Gulf action.

Acting Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Essam bin Saad bin Saeed said that the Cabinet fully supports the view of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier, minister of defense and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, that the GCC countries should unite to become a strong bloc. The Cabinet endorsed the views of the deputy crown prince, who said that the GCC has the opportunity to be the sixth biggest economy in the world if its members work properly in the coming years and take advantage of opportunities in this era of economic fluctuations.

The cabinet commended the Council of Economic Development Affairs for having decided, during its meeting, to have the public treasury settle the debts owed to the private sector before the end of the current fiscal year.

The King briefed the Cabinet on the phone call he made to US President-elect Donald Trump upon winning the presidential election, during which he said that the kingdom is looking forward to enhancing historical and strategic relations with the US and working together to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East and the world.

He also briefed the cabinet about his talks with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, with whom he discussed bilateral cooperation and recent developments in the region.

(Source / 15.11.2016)

Saudis Deliberately Targeting Civilian Infrastructure In Yemen War

Whether it’s a potato chip factory or a poultry farm, anything large enough to be visible is a target, and many of the owners say they believe that they were targeted simply because they remained in business during the invasion.

Boys walk around in a classroom at a school damaged by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, July 20, 2015. The death toll in Yemen from the Shiite rebel shelling of a town near the southern port city of Aden rose on Monday to nearly 100, the head of an international aid group said, describing it as "the worst day" for the city and its surroundings in over three months of fighting. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Boys walk around in a classroom at a school damaged by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, July 20, 2015

Since the March 2015 Saudi invasion of Yemen, Saudi-coalition airstrikes have killed a preposterous number of civilian bystanders, and repeatedly hit places like schools and hospitals across the country. While the Saudis are forever downplaying such incidents, the reality of  the Saudi air war is becoming increasingly apparent. It is a war not against the Shi’ite Houthi movement, but against Yemen’s population and economy.

Even sources like the New York Times are starting to take notice that this is less an anti-rebel campaign and instead a war of systematically obliterating Yemen’s already bare-bones economy, targeting anything and everything and claiming “suspicion” if asked about it.

Indeed, as much attention as blowing up a hospital gets, in many cases the more harmful strikes are against places like food processors and basic industries, whose destruction exacerbates chronic food shortages in the nation and ensures that any post-war reconstruction will be arduously slow.

Whether it’s a potato chip factory or a poultry farm, anything large enough to be visible is a target, and many of the owners say they believe that they were targeted simply because they remained in business during the invasion, and that the Saudis see everything that’s operating as a war target.

UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick says the attacks are obviously deliberate, and that the “economic dimension” of the war is meant to put pressure on the Houthi movement. The Saudis deny this, however, insisting that the Houthis are to blame for all the Coca Cola bottling plants that Saudi warplanes bombed.

Either way, Yemen has gone from the poorest nation in the Middle East to an unrivaled global pauper, and while a lot of the resentment is aimed at Saudi Arabia, many see the Obama Administration’s support for the Saudi war as a key part as well, meaning that it is fueling anti-US sentiment in Yemen that will be a problem for generations.

And while historically Saudi Arabia has had the lobbying clout to be untouchable in Congress, recent votes aimed at blocking US arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been getting a surprising amount of support. It’s still not enough to block the sales, not yet anyways, but the trend is clearly going against the Saudis.

Before the war, Yemen imported some 90% of its food, and a naval blockade by the Saudis has severely limited the availability of food, particularly in the northern Houthi-controlled areas. That naval docks and airports in Houthi areas have also been repeatedly targeted by the Saudi warplanes only adds to these concerns.

(Source / 14.11.2016)

Saudi Arabia Launches Program to Limit Internet Usage, Enhance Information Security Level

saudi

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture

Jeddah – The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has announced a project to limit the internet consumption in the country and to enhance the level of information security. The ministry also announced operating a new extension for internet.

Experts in the Information Technology told Asharq al-Awsat that this step aims at raising awareness towards the dangers of information security, coordinating efforts in the field of cyber security and increasing confidence in cyber dealings.

Security Advisor Professor Yusuf al-Rumaih said that this procedure is to protect the social and economic system of the country from insecure hacking especially amidst the internet criminal organizations exploitation to reach for individuals in target such as teenagers and the youths.

The number of spam messages sent daily on the social network websites is estimated as more than 100,000. They basically encourage chaos and jihad. Security Consultant and Researcher Professor Ali al-Khashaiban said that focusing on information security is one of the basic steps that protect the society from any violations on the security and mental levels.

According to official warnings, the offenses against governmental bodies and huge companies seek coding websites through spreading malice viruses—this fact pushed parties to send warning letters for devices users to avoid falling for these attempts.

The spying program includes sending messages via the social network websites—however if users examined the messages carefully then they can deleted them and avoid the damage.

(Source / 08.11.2016)