King Salman Calls on Iraqi Parties to Address Crisis through Dialogue

Saudi

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.

Moscow Welcomes Saudi King, Describes Visit As ‘Most Important Event’

Saudi Arabia's King Salman arrives at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow

Moscow, Riyadh- Official and popular Russian circles applauded the historic visit by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Moscow upon an official invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir said after talks with Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the State Duma, that King Salman and Putin would sign a package of bilateral agreements of great importance.

He described the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – the first visit of a Saudi king to Russia – as a historic event, stressing that it would contribute to the development of relations between the two countries in various fields.

Matviyenko expressed her hope that King Salman’s visit would be successful and fruitful, and would give a strong impetus to the development of bilateral relations.

She also expressed her gratitude to the Saudi foreign minister for his cooperation with Moscow, especially with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We are well aware that the development of cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia serves not only our common interests but also stability in the region because Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential countries in the Middle East and the whole world,” she stated.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov welcomed King Salman’s visit, posting on his Instagram account: “Welcome to Russia.”

“We warmly welcome King Salman and we hope that his visit would contribute to strengthening economic, political, cultural and religious relations between our countries,” he stated.

Alexey Gremov, director of the Energy Department at the Institute for Energy and Finance, described the Saudi King’s visit to Russia as a “very important event”, stressing that discussions over oil-related issues between Russian and OPEC countries came following several visits by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.

Lavrov on King Salman’s Visit to Russia: Turning Point in Bilateral, Regional Relations

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks during news conference after meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang in Moscow

Moscow– Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov underlined the importance of Saudi King Salman’s visit to Russia, which will kick off on Thursday, describing it as a “real turning point in the relations between the two countries” to achieve fruitful contribution to stability in the Middle East.

In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in Moscow, Lavrov said his country shared Riyadh’s conviction of the need to “further develop bilateral relations at various levels”, and to work towards the establishment of regional and global stability.

He noted that Riyadh and Moscow have maintained a high-level dialogue, which has translated into tangible results.

“We are intensifying efforts to strengthen trade ties and humanitarian relations with the Kingdom. Our common goal is to increase the volume of trade and expand the range of commodities, which both sides see as incompatible with the great potential of the two countries,” Lavrov said.

Touching on cooperation in the oil sector, the Russian foreign minister stated that: “Riyadh and Moscow are jointly working on the implementation of OPEC-Plus agreements to reduce global oil production. We consider it extremely important to continue to coordinate efforts with our partners in Saudi Arabia in this regard.”

Lavrov stressed that King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin would discuss the need to find sustainable and permanent solutions to the ongoing crises in the region, adding that the visit would represent “a true turning point in our relations and would take cooperation between us to a new level, achieving a fruitful contribution to stability in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Asked whether a political solution to the Syrian crisis would be reached soon, Lavrov said: “Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Russia has insisted on a solution through peaceful means by holding an extensive dialogue between the various parties. We also called on the international community to extend a helping hand to the Syrian people to end the violence and bloodshed and to prevent the support of criminals and terrorists inside the country.”

The Russian official criticized the international community for exerting pressure to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The Arab League and many regional and international parties have taken a decision to strip Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of his legitimacy for a variety of reasons. In doing so, they have effectively attacked the right of the Syrian people to decide who will rule Syria and in what way. We strongly disagree with this approach,” he firmly stated.

Lavrov went on to say: “In various international forums, we have always supported the independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. We have reiterated that the fate and future of Syria must be in the hands of the Syrian people, in a fully legal manner and through national dialogue.”

He stressed that his country has responded to the demands of the Syrian government to help the country eradicate terrorism.

“At the same time, we continue to believe that the military campaign against extremists must be accompanied by the search for a political solution to the crisis. To this end, we continue to fight terrorist groups, while strengthening our efforts to stop the bloodshed, provide humanitarian assistance to the population and boost the political process as stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” he noted.

Lavrov underlined the importance of the Astana meetings on Syria, during which he said the concerned parties have agreed that there was no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement under the auspices of the United Nations and expressed their commitment to the ceasefire.

“Today, all actors must abandon their own geopolitical ambitions and contribute fully to the restoration of stability and security in Syria and throughout the Middle East and North Africa,” the Russian foreign minister said.

On the relations with Turkey and Iran, especially in the Syrian and Iraqi files, the senior politician said Russia “attaches great importance to cooperation with Turkey and Iran as part of the settlement of the Syrian crisis and to help Baghdad face ISIS terrorist threats.”

“We believe that the joint efforts between Russia, Turkey and Iran have succeeded in improving the situation in Syria, destroying the hubs of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups, and guaranteeing the conditions for a broad and constructive dialogue between the Syrian parties.”

Asked about the reason behind the deterioration of the Russian-US relations, despite ongoing consultations between the two countries, Lavrov said: “The Russians are not to blame for the current deterioration in US-Russian relations, but this is a direct result of the policies of [former President Barack] Obama’s administration that destroyed the foundations of our cooperation.”

“In addition, before its departure, the administration planted time bombs to make things more difficult for the new government,” he added.

The Russian minister noted however that his country “stands ready to seek new ways, in cooperation with the new US administration, to improve bilateral relations based on the principles of mutual trust and respect to each other’s interests.”

He said that the fabricated anti-Russian campaign inside the US, which included claims of a suspected Russian interference in last year’s US presidential elections “clearly hampers any attempt to normalize dialogue between the two sides.”

“There is an unmistakable impression that some in Washington are not happy with the way the American people have expressed their will, trying to blame us for their failures, and they do not hesitate to use the Russian paper in all their political struggles,” he stated.

Lavrov added: “As for us, we have been careful to exercise restraint, especially considering the complex reality of the internal political scene in which the new US administration must work. However, we cannot remain silent towards the hostile actions, which were translated in the adoption of the law ‘fight America’s enemies’ by imposing sanctions.”

The Russian foreign minister said there was still considerable unexploited potential for Russian-American cooperation in international affairs on many levels.

“We have long urged our counterparts in the United States to build real coordination with us in the fight against terrorism, as well as to deal with other serious challenges, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the drug trade and cybercrime,” he noted.

On the other hand, he said, there are opportunities for mutually beneficial initiatives in trade and investment.

“It is remarkable that US companies attach great importance to their presence in the Russian market and wish to participate in projects that serve the interests of both sides,” according to Lavrov.

Asked to evaluate the US-led international coalition against ISIS and the extent of the Russian role in fighting the terrorist organization, Lavrov said: “I think one should start by saying that from perspective of the Syrians and international law, this alliance is prying on Syria. For its part, the Syrian government remains tolerant as long as the coalition activities are directed against terrorists inside the Syrian territory.”

“In reality, it was the air strikes by the Russian air force and the Syrian army that forced ISIS to retreat,” he stated.

The World Applauds King Salman’s Order Allowing Women to Drive

Washington, London, Berlin – Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to drive was widely supported around the world, as international leaders have officially welcomed the King’s order.

US President Donald Trump commended the royal order to apply the traffic system and its executive regulations – including issuance of driving licenses – for both males and females alike, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is a positive step toward promoting the rights and opportunities of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we will continue to support the Kingdom in its efforts to strengthen the Saudi society and economy through reforms like this and the implementation of the Saudi Vision 2030,” Trump said, according to the statement.

The US Department of State has also welcomed the Saudi royal order.

In the daily press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert stressed that this decision was a great step and a very positive sign.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, for his part, tweeted that ending the restrictions represented an “important step in the right direction.”

In London, UK Prime Minister Theresa May described the Saudi decision as an “important step towards gender equality.”

“The empowerment of women around the world is not only an issue I care deeply about, it is also key to nations’ economic development,” she said.

From Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman welcomed Saudi Arabia’s order to grant women the right to drive as “a big step for Saudi society.”

Spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday that Merkel has repeatedly brought up the situation of women during visits to Saudi Arabia. “It is a particularly important issue to her,” he stated.

Meanwhile, a political researcher at Georges Washington University told Asharq Al-Awsat that King Salman’s move to allow Saudi women to drive was a “courageous decision and will open up social and economic prospects for women in Saudi Arabia.”

King Salman Chairs Cabinet Session, Says Kingdom Will Remain a ‘Strong Fortress’

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz chaired the Cabinet’s session at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Tuesday at which he said that the Kingdom will remain a ‘strong fortress’ in which growth and development continue.

King Salman expressed his pride in the Kingdom celebrating its 87th National Day with development and growth ongoing in all fields and with citizens and residents enjoying security and prosperity, said the Saudi state-owned media outlet SPA.

The King expressed his thanks and appreciation to leaders and officials of countries that relayed their good thought and congratulations to the Kingdom on this occasion, and to citizens in all regions of the Kingdom for their congratulations, manifestations of joy and celebrations of this anniversary, which embodied the national unity and people’s cohesion, love and loyalty to their homeland.

King Salman briefed cabinet members on the contents of a telephone call he had with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Republic of Turkey, during which they reviewed bilateral relations, latest developments in the region and the world, and the emphasis on the depth of strategic relations between the two countries and their enhancement, and the outcome of his meeting with former President of Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gul, during which they exchanged friendly talks on a number of issues of common concern.

Culture and Information Minister Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, in a statement to SPA, following the national cabinet session Cabinet forwarded congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Defense Minister, on the occasion of the 87th anniversary of the National Day of the Kingdom.

Cabinet members reviewed a number of reports on developments at the international arena, appreciating the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid to allocate $15 million worth of assistance to help alleviate the sufferings of the Rohingyas displaced from Myanmar due to genocide and torture, considering the gesture an extension of the previous relief aid which the King directed to help the displaced people of Myanmar to provide them with all kinds of relief and humanitarian support.

On the domestic level, the Council of Ministers expressed satisfaction with the contents of the 53rd annual report of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which reviewed the economic and financial developments in the Kingdom during 2016, pointing that the national economy achieved has produced a positive growth rate of 1.7 per cent, the financial sector, including its various components, delivered statistical and positive indicators in 2016 that reaffirm the strength of the financial and banking sector in the Kingdom.

Bin Daghr: ‘Decisive Storm’ Shattered Iran’s Expansionist Dreams

Yemen's Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr (C) attends a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 18, 2016.

Aden– Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghr said that the Yemeni army, supported by the coalition forces, “currently controls 85 percent of the territories and heads towards achieving greater victory”, stressing that the “Decisive Storm”, led by Saudi Arabia, has thwarted Iran’s projects in the Arab region.

He also commended the great support provided to the Yemeni people by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

His comments came during his meeting in Aden with the Commander of the Arab Coalition Forces Brig. Gen. Ahmed Abu Majid, the Commander of the Saudi Forces Brigadier General Abdul Aziz Islam, the Commander of the Bahraini and Sudanese Forces Major Hisham Al-Mubarak, and a number of officers of the Arab Coalition Forces.

Bin Daghr praised major sacrifices offered by the Yemeni army and popular resistance to face Houthi and Ali Abdullah Saleh militias, promising that victory was imminent.

The Yemeni prime minister pointed out to the support provided by Saudi Arabia, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the UAE, under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and the leaders of the State of Kuwait for their support to the Yemeni people through the King Salman Relief Center, the UAE Red Crescent, the Kuwait Relief Committee and “all those who helped Yemen in these difficult circumstances”.

For his part, the commander of the Arab Coalition Forces reiterated UAE’s position in support of Yemen’s unity and stability, while the commander of the Saudi Forces confirmed the Kingdom’s backing of Yemen’s legitimacy and security.

The meeting tackled a number of important issues on the military and economic levels, and discussed the joint action to face Houthis and terrorist organizations and the means to consolidate security and stability in the liberated provinces.

Saudi King, Crown Prince Receive Congratulations from Interior Minister on Hajj Success

Hajj

Jeddah – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz expressed on Monday his satisfaction with the success of this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage.

His stance came in reply to a cable he received from Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, congratulating the monarch on the successful pilgrimage.

King Salman added that he received positive feedback from pilgrims and officials from various countries over the major security, health and organizational services that have been provided at the Hajj.

He stressed that he was honored to serve the two holy mosques and their visitors, thanking in a cable the princes of various regions, all officials at the Interior Ministry and members of the civil and military sectors for their efforts in organizing the Hajj.

For his part, the Minister of Interior credited the pilgrimage’s success to King Salman’s wise guidance, the follow up by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the dedication of security forces, the Defense Ministry, national guard and intelligence services, as well as all government and civil organizations associated with the Hajj.

He revealed that 2,352,122 pilgrims performed this year’s Hajj, marking a rise of 26 percent from last year, saying that they performed the rituals smoothly and without incident.

Meanwhile, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, sent a cable in reply to the Minister of Interior. He expressed his great gratitude for his efforts and those of the princes of all regions in making the Hajj a success.

He also thanked the security forces, the military sector and civil and government agencies that were part of organizing the Hajj.

Kuwaiti Emir Visits Washington to Meet with Trump

Kuwait– Kuwait’s Emiri Diwan said on Thursday that Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah would travel to Washington on Friday for talks with US President Donald Trump.

According to a statement published by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the Emir of Kuwait will meet with Trump on September 7.

Kuwait emerged as a key mediator after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.

As soon as the four countries suspended their relations with the Arab peninsula, Trump expressed great support for Saudi Arabia, which was confirmed on Wednesday during a telephone conversation with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, to whom he stressed that the solution to the crisis with Qatar should be based on the Riyadh summit commitments to unite in the face of terrorism and Iranian threats and to defeat terrorism, cut off its funding and combat extremist ideology.

Sheikh Sabah received a telephone call on Thursday from Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. KUNA reported that the two leaders exchanged congratulations on Eid al-Adha, and discussed some important topics.

Khaled al-Faisal: 1,564 Qatari Pilgrims Arrived in Makkah Compared to 1,210 Last Year

Pilgrims perform the Holy Hajj

Holy Sites- Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of Makkah Region, who is also the Chairman of Hajj Central Committee, announced on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has received 1,564 pilgrims from Qatar compared to 1,210 last year.

Commenting on the hosting of Qatari pilgrims by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, he said: “The Royal attitude is not strange as the brothers from Qatar are guests of Allah and we have to serve them.”

In a press conference at Mina in the governorate of Makkah, Prince Khalid conveyed thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his profound care and continuous instructions on providing the best services to the pilgrims.

He noted that the Kingdom has recruited more than 300,000 civil and military personnel to serve pilgrims during this Hajj season.

The Saudi official also said that as many as 101 illegal Hajj organizers were apprehended by the authorities, while around 490,000 violators of Hajj regulations were prevented from entering Makkah and other sacred places, 219,000 unlicensed vehicles were turned back, and 9,599 drivers were recorded as violators.

Prince Khalid announced that pilgrims’ number this year has exceeded two million, coming from Saudi Arabia and abroad. He explained that the number of those coming from outside the Kingdom has reached 1,752,014, while the number of citizens reached 126,092, and expatriates residing in the Kingdom 102,936.

The Hajj and Umrah train is now on duty, the Saudi official said, noting that it was expected to transport 365,000 pilgrims. He also said that more than 21,000 buses have the capacity to transport more than two million pilgrims.

He also revealed that the Makkah governorate has completed 14 projects worth SR300 million in preparation for the Hajj season.

Ma’aden Engages in Phosphate Global Industry

Riyadh- Ma’aden exported on Monday the first cargo of its phosphate factories’ products, a step that reflects Saudi Arabia seriousness to place itself on the world’s phosphate industry map.

The phosphate factories are located in Wa’ad Al Shamal that is on its way to become one of the major global capitals for producing phosphate.

In this regard, Ma’aden announced exporting its first cargo from Ma’aden Wa’ad Al-Shamal Phosphate Company (MWSPC).

The first shipment was transported via Al-Shamal railway to Ras Al Khair port, specialized to mining exports.

Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden), affirmed that this achievement came as a result of the support granted to the Saudi mining sector from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the Crown Prince.

“This support permitted such a historic achievement and therefore reaching this development in mining industry and phosphate manufacturing,” said Falih.

He added that this event is the outcome of constructive operation and comprehensive work of several governmental and private bodies during the past phase that has witnessed establishing the project, providing success requirements and facing challenges, under the directives of the Saudi government.

This project is an added value to all related parties including Ma’aden shareholders since this is a unique phase in the company’s history and a proof of its success in continuous growth and expansionary affairs.

Falih pointed out that Wa’ad Al-Shamal project aims at reinforcing sustainable economic growth in the northern border region – this has actually started to appear through creating job opportunities, training the youths, developing SMEs and boosting economy in the region.

The company seeks to become among the top three phosphate exporting countries worldwide.