Saudi-Bahraini Naval Forces Conclude ‘Bridge 18’ Drill

Manama, Dhahran – Joint naval exercise “Bridge 18” was concluded on Thursday between the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and the Royal Bahrain Naval Forces in the water of the Arabian Gulf.

The Saudi Royal Navy is being represented by the Eastern Fleet.

The naval drill included increasing the level of combat capability and professional performance in all types of maritime operations, uniting the tactical concepts of command and control in addition to enhancing coordination procedures among the forces involved in managing the naval battles.

The exercises also contributed to enhancing security and inspection in protecting the regional water and repelling any aggression.

The exercise carried out the operations of controlling in territorial seas, protecting vital and important installations and the main waterways in the area, conducting live ammunition, counter-terrorism, surveying and reconnaissance operations, diving exercises and sea landing operations on coasts and beaches.

On the occasion, Commander of the Eastern Fleet Rear Admiral Fahd al-Ghafili said that this exercise is an extension of the series of drills carried out in both countries simultaneously to increase the combat preparedness and exchange experiences between the two countries in implementing the joint operations against any potential threat.

He added that this drill will strengthen and support the supply of joint forces in any armed conflict overseas, and the development of joint operational coordination between naval units.

The participants practiced drills on conventional and unconventional threats, naval security operations and securing naval infrastructures such as harbors and marine bases.

Commander of “Kingdom of Bahrain” fleet Rear Commander Eyad al-Mannai pointed out that the maneuvers will increase the level of battle readiness and performance in all marine operations. He added that it will unify control and leadership tactical concepts and enhance marine battle management.

Mannai believes that the importance of the drill lies in the security cooperation between both countries in light of both navies capabilities and their need to exchange training, technical and intel expertise.

Saudi National Society for Human Rights Decries Qatar’s Recent Actions

Riyadh, Geneva- Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights has denounced a move by Qatari authorities to freeze the assets of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Thani and Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim and violating their private property.

It pointed out that the right of ownership of those persons, who have a view contrary to the policy of the Qatari Government, should be respected, and stressed the importance of ensuring the rights of those who worked for them and not to harm them, and to ensure their continued contact with their families.

It added that punitive measures involving human rights violations against persons or those working for them because of their political positions in the Qatari crisis contravene with international human rights instruments.

In a related context, the Arab Federation for Human Rights demanded the UN to intervene urgently to rescue the peaceful political opposition in Qatar from the oppression of Qatari authorities. The federation expressed concerns and sorrow for the continuous suppression that has been practiced by the authorities since June 5, following the Arab boycott of Qatar.

The federation, headquartered in Geneva, denounced the Qatari security storming of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani Palace in Doha and freezing his assets as well as confiscating his personal and family possessions.

Sahar Al-Sheikh, the supervisor of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani’s palace, revealed her last moments in Qatar and how Qatari security deported her from Doha after beating her, threatening her with death and assassination in her country Sudan.

Sheikh spoke about the fear and enforced disappearances among workers in Qatar, stressing that what she witnessed in Doha at the hands of security officials confirmed to her that Qatari authorities sponsor terrorism, as she experienced it firsthand from Qatari security.

She added that she had received a phone call from Sheikh Sultan, who asked to talk to his sons. Later, she was surprised by a convoy of security vehicles storming the building where she lived. After being lured outside by a woman who said there was a message from Sheikh Sultan that must be received, she was arrested and deported.

All telephone conversations in Qatar were monitored by the state security apparatus, according to Sheikh.

Saudi Arabia to Establish a Leadership, National Sustainable Development Center

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Riyadh – Saudi Arabia announced plans to establishing a center for leadership, discipline and building up national sustainable capacities. The news came in light of launching a committee for digital transformation, in hopes of investing comprehensive strategy and international exchange of expertise in the Kingdom’s future.

Digital transformation is the core strategy of Saudi Vision 2030, with Saudi companies increasingly adapting themselves to be part of the vision program.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sponsored the 2nd International Conference on C4I Solutions on Wednesday in hopes of boosting this trend.

These systems combine a variety of technologies including: command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), remote control and autonomous systems that decision-makers rely upon to supply and process accurate analytical data, as well as collect and display information in the most timely, context-appropriate and format-suitable manner, using smart technologies and state-of-the-art sensors.

This is not to mention their vital role in connected battlespace management and in monitoring and protecting critical infrastructures.

The concept of leadership and control requires the availability of human resources, advanced infrastructure, ability and efficiency in carrying out missions, said Chief of General Staff of Royal Saudi Armed Forces General Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan.

Gen. Al-Bunyan said that investment in command and control is no longer an option as much as it is a national demand, requiring radical changes across many levels.

Gen. Al-Bunyan believes that this approach will contribute to keeping up with the latest standards, such as moving from C4I to C5 and integrating combat operations into a modern system.

He noted the importance of the 2nd International Conference on C4I Solutions in keeping track with rapid developments in this field, which the Defense Ministry has dedicated efforts to through its fruitful cooperation with King Saud University, benefiting from modern technologies.

The conference is set to shed light on the role of command and control centers in combating conventional and unconventional terrorism, and their alliances relying on advanced integration systems for complex operations and command, control, communications, cyber security (C4I). In addition, the conference will address all aspects of C4I in military as well as civilian arenas.

The chairman of the conference’s organizing committee, Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, announced that the conference was held under the theme of “coalition against terrorism”, for the importance of this issue at the present time, and the pivotal role played by Saudi Arabia in confronting terrorism and extremism in the region and the world.

“Command and control systems are now the vital nerve of the armed forces in confronting terrorism, both through field operations and technical confrontation through cyberspace,” he said.

The conference’s panels and working papers by international experts discuss the importance of strengthening international alliances, achieving integration in the armed forces’ command and control systems and providing them with proactive capabilities to monitor and respond to terrorist operations in its various shapes and locations.

“The conference focuses on transferring technology knowledge and the localization of specialized expertise in command and control systems as one of its main themes, in line with the Saudi 2030 vision,” Dr. Al-Ghamdi added.

The conference targeted major industrial and financial sectors, which are also vulnerable to terrorist assaults through hacking attacks on their information systems which pose a direct threat to the highest interests of the countries.

This is in addition to strengthening the partnership between the various relevant sectors, especially security and defense, with research centers specialized in command and control systems, aiming to move towards a new and more secure generation of cybersecurity, communication, command and control systems.

The conference brought together more than 700 participants including senior military officers from Saudi Armed Forces as well as from other armed forces members of the International Alliance against Terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq Hold Military Discussions

A model of Saudi airline Flynas is on display during a ceremony to sign a deal between Airbus and Flynas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 16, 2017.

Riyadh, Baghdad- Iraq’s Major General Othman al-Ghanmi, accompanied by a military delegation, headed Wednesday morning to Saudi Arabia, in response to an invitation from his Saudi counterpart Chief of Defense Gen. Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Banyan.

This two-day visit is the first of its kind visit since decades for such a high-rank Iraqi officer.

A statement revealed that the visit aims to discuss vital topics in the coming period via cooperation and coordination in fields of fighting terrorism and opening border facilities – it is a significant step to cement ties between the two sisterly countries, exchange intelligence information and discuss challenges facing the region’s security and safety.

In the same context, a Saudi civil airplane arrived in Baghdad International Airport on Wednesday to be the first since 27 years ago when flights were suspended between Iraq and Saudi Arabia after former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein ordered his troops into neighboring Kuwait.

Tickets for the maiden flight were advertised for as low as SAR27 ($7.2) excluding taxes as flynas CEO Bandar al-Muhanna said the move to reopen the route would help “link the two sisterly countries”.

He added: “We worked hard to see that flynas flights to the brotherly nation of Iraq are operational as quickly as possible in order to connect the two brotherly nations economically and socially after a 27-year-long break.”

King Salman Receives Princes, Kingdom’s Mufti, Citizens

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Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz received at al-Yamamah Palace princes, the Kingdom’s Grand Mufti, scholars and a group of citizens who came to greet the King.

The audience was attended by Prince Saad bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh region, and a number of princes.

PIF Establishes New Energy Service Company ‘Super Esco’

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has announced the establishment of a new energy service company, Super Esco, designed to increase energy efficiency across government and public buildings and stimulate the growth of the Kingdom’s energy efficiency industry in line with the objectives of Vision 2030 to diversify the economy and drive environmental sustainability.

In partnership with the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Finance, and the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center, Super Esco will provide new investment opportunities by creating partnerships with the private sector to deliver projects.

Projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s energy efficiency sector have an estimated value of SAR 42 billion, or around SAR 3 billion annually. Internationally, the sector is valued at SAR 130 billion, with projects in the US, Europe, and China accounting for 90 percent of the global market share.

Super Esco has been established with a capitalization of SAR 1.9 billion. The company will fund and manage the retrofit of government and public buildings, which represent over 70 percent of overall projects in the sector.

These projects will help reduce government spending on the electricity sector, which will in turn reduce natural resource consumption while rationalizing capital investments in expansion projects for the production, generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.

King Salman Calls on Iraqi Parties to Address Crisis through Dialogue

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Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz held a telephone call Monday evening with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, in which he stressed the Kingdom’s support for the unity of Iraq, its security and stability and the adherence of all parties to the Iraqi constitution.

King Salman renewed the Kingdom’s call on all parties to exercise restraint and deal with the crisis through dialogue to spare Iraq more internal conflicts.

For his part, the Iraqi Prime Minister praised the Saudi King’s stance and his interest in the security and stability of Iraq.

He emphasized the keenness of the Iraqi government to avoid any military escalation and to ensure security in all Iraqi territories.

King Salman Asserts Saudi Support for Trump’s Firm Iran Policy

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Riyadh – Saudi Arabia said it supports and welcomes the recently announced United States strategy towards Iran, its hostile behavior, and funding of international and regional terror, said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz when chairing a cabinet session on Tuesday.

He also confirmed Saudi Arabia’s continued commitment to collaborating with US partners in an effort to achieve objectives announced by US President Donald Trump.

At the outset of the cabinet session, King Salman briefed ministers on the telephone call he had with Trump during which the monarch emphasized Riyadh’s support of his firm strategy towards Iran, its aggressive activities and support for terrorism in the region and worldwide.

He also stressed the Kingdom’s full commitment to continue working with its partners in the US to achieve the desired goals announced by Trump.

The King also briefed the cabinet on the results of his meeting with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, during which they reviewed bilateral relations and discussed overall regional events.

The cabinet was briefed on the telephone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during which the Palestinian leader reviewed with King Salman the recently signed Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement.

King Salman gave great emphasis to “unity” in paving the way ahead for the Palestinian Authority to further serve its citizens. He said that the Kingdom is looking forward to this important reconciliation, which realizes the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians.

The King briefed the cabinet on a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi during which he stressed Riyadh’s support for Iraq’s unity, security and stability. He underlined the adherence of all parties to the Iraqi constitution for the interest of Iraq and its people.

The Cabinet also reviewed a number of regional and international developments, including outcomes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual and the World Bank (WB) meetings in Washington.

Meetings focused on the development of the Kingdom’s economy and its efforts in implementing its transformation Vision 2030, affiliated operational programs and initiatives.

Saudi Arabia to Launch Coordination Council with Iraq

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Jeddah

Riyadh- Saudi Arabia and Iraq will be cosigning the establishment of a joint Saudi-Iraqi Coordinating Council in Riyadh next week, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The body is said to cover various political, economic, security and cultural fields.

Abdul Aziz al-Shammari, charge d’affaires of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Baghdad, said that an Iraqi delegation is expected to arrive in Riyadh next week under the chairmanship of Dr. Sulaiman al-Jumaili, head of the Coordination Council from the Iraqi side. Six other Iraqi ministers will also be part of the delegation.

“The Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council will cover all vital and important areas between the two countries, political, economic, commercial, security, cultural and others,” Shammari told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Shammari stressed that this step is vital in rebooting good ties between Riyadh and Baghdad, which will then bring relations to broader horizons, in various fields, and through the establishment of joint sub-committees to discuss the promotion of cooperation between the two countries.

Saudi Crown Prince Discusses Military Cooperation with Commander of Pakistani Army

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with Pakistani Army Commander Lieutenant General Javed Bajwa.

Riyadh- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud met with Pakistani Army Commander Lieutenant General Javed Bajwa on Monday.

The meeting reviewed the relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, especially in the military fields, and the two parties discussed a number of issues of mutual interest.

Assistant Minister of Defense Mohammad Al Ayesh – the military advisor to the Crown Prince – Major-General Engineer Talal al-Otaibi and Pakistani Military Attaché Shahed Manthour attended the meeting.

On the other hand, under the patronage of the Saudi Crown Prince, King Saud University (KSU) in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense will organize today the 2nd International Conference on Command and Control Solutions titled “Coalition Against Terrorism, Strategies and Capabilities”.

KSU Director Dr. Badran bin Abdulrahman al-Omar expressed gratitude to the Crown Prince for his patronage of the conference and support for the University in various fields, noting that the three-day conference will be attended by more than 700 specialists in the field of command and control systems at local, regional and global levels.

This year’s conference will discuss the latest developments in command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) including integration of command and control systems of the armed forces, their proactive capabilities to monitor and respond to terrorist operations and the importance of strengthening international alliances.

It will also cover technology transfer and localizing specialized expertise in command and control systems in line with Vision 2030.