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Exclusive: King Abdullah Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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AFP photo

AFP photo

AFP photo

“Our war against terror has not stopped but we value life and the lives of our citizens in all our operations.”

“Our strategy in fighting terror is patience in collecting information, decisiveness in the confrontation, and protection of lives.”

“The kingdom is heading towards a qualitative leap in education.”

“The King Abdullah Sciences and Technology University is open to the talented and to the scholars in the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

“We are concerned that the world is living through obscure times and we hope it will emerge from it so that the vision becomes clear.”

“Some forces do not understand the nature of the problems in the Muslim world.”

“The kingdom’s oil policy is moderation.”

“Oil production is abundant and we are therefore surprised by the market’s fluctuations and the sometimes unjustified rise in prices.”

“We feel deep regret and sorrow for the tragedies to which our Iraqi brothers and sisters are subjected.”

“My international visits are for the kingdom’s sake and are not messages to some countries at the expense of others.”

“I respect he who respects me, and I respect even he who disagrees with me as long as this stems from the nation’s interest and not from the premise of personal benefits.”

“My confidence in God always makes me optimistic and despair does not enter my heart.”

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has exclusively spoken to Asharq Al Awsat on the kingdom’s strategic approaches in a world that is constantly changing. King Abdullah stated that the world is going through “obscure times” in which the vision is unclear. He said, “The kingdom acts cautiously in such atmospheres.” During the interview, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques touched on the Israeli war on Lebanon and urged everybody to return to Lebanon so that it can emerge from its tribulation. He said, “Supporting Lebanon is the duty of all of us and anyone who is negligent in supporting Lebanon is neglecting himself, his Arabism, and his humanity.” The Saudi king appeared extremely affected by Lebanon’s tribulation and its destruction.

King Abdullah explained the reasons for his anxiety concerning the absence of a regional or international vision of the region’s security, especially in “the absence of interest in the Middle East peace process.” The king said, “We presented the peace initiative, which the Arab world adopted unanimously, and it received international acceptance, even in some circles in Israel.” However, the Saudi king disapproved of “the absence of interest and the inability of the tools of implementation to apply such initiatives on the ground.”

King Abdullah talked about his disappointment with regard to the stalling of the Palestinian issue and peace process. The King seemed to look for a new and cohesive vision that can be implemented with regard to peace in the Middle East, since he re-asserted, “conditions have changed today. The world has entered a state of murkiness, the cards in our region have become mixed, and the vision is unclear.”

The kingdom’s policy as voiced by the king is “to wait until the vision becomes clear. But we are working with friends and those concerned, to draw up radical and fundamental solutions for these problems that are threatening the region and the stability of the entire world.” He said, “We genuinely feel deep regret and sorrow for the tragedies to which our brothers and sisters in Iraq are subjected and pray to God, the Great and Almighty, to enable them to overcome such tragedies so as to occupy their correct position in the ranks of their Arab and Muslim nation and enjoy stability, security, and prosperity.”

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz called on the world’s superpowers to understand the problems of the Arab and Muslim worlds and appeared to be worried that “some forces do not comprehend the nature of the Arab and Islamic problems.” The king reiterated that the “kingdom’s policy is to resolve problems through peaceful means.”

Despite the complexities of the international, regional, and even internal dossiers across the region, the Saudi king appeared to be confident and strong. One cannot overlook King Abdullah’s tolerant nature and his “patience” policy in dealing with issues, even in the kingdom’s confrontation with members of terrorist cells, who the king named “rogues”. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that “my confidence in God always makes me optimistic and despair never enters my heart.”

In a response to some analyses of his international visits to Asia and recently to Turkey, the king underlined the error of those who interpret these visits as “messages to some countries at the expense of others,” and stressed that the aim of his visits “is to serve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s interests.” He also stressed that the kingdom’s international relations “stem from our values. We befriend all and wish peace for all.”

In the Arab and Islamic framework, King Abdullah stressed that he respects all and values disagreement as long as the aim behind disagreement is in the interest of the nation and is not prompted by personal benefits.

On the kingdom’s oil policies, King Abdullah underlined that the “kingdom’s oil policy is moderation in prices. Despite the benefits that an increase in prices brings to us, we still call for moderation in oil prices.” He stressed that the market is performing a role “and oil production is abundant and I am therefore surprised by the market’s fluctuation and the unjustified rise in prices.”

King Abdullah explained the internal situation in the kingdom to Asharq Al Awsat and stressed that the “kingdom’s economy is strong” and focused on the Saudi market’s openness to investments. He said, “Our doors and markets are open to investors. They are welcome.”

Despite the economic boom in the kingdom, King Abdullah remains preoccupied with what he calls the “educational revolution that the kingdom is witnessing, especially in modern sciences and technology.” He spoke at length about his project, which for him has been a “dream for 25 years. It is the establishment of an educational edifice that cost 11 billion Saudi Riyals, it is the King Abdullah Sciences and Technology University.” He continued: “This university is open not only to Saudis but to all scholars and talented people in the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

The Saudi king stressed that the number of universities in the kingdom would be doubled for the sake of what he called “an essential leap in education: Education is the basis for all progress.”

The king’s patience in implementing his 25-year-old dream that can now materialize, as surplus revenues are available, is also portrayed through his policy on dealing with terrorism.

As Asharq Al Awsat met the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, elsewhere, confrontation between Saudi security men and an extremist cell, which had made an apartment of a residential building in Jeddah, west of the kingdom, its base, came to a peaceful end. King Abdullah said, “The operation was carried out successfully and we did not lose any of our valiant security men. The lives of all citizens are valuable to us, including the lives of rogues.”

The king explained the kingdom’s strategy for fighting terror. This strategy depends on “firstly, gathering information. We followed this cell for some time, obtained all the evidence, and then we acted.” He said, “The orders were to wait until the people had left safely. Despite the enthusiasm of the security authorities, I asked them to wait and control their nerves. We were in no hurry.” The king added, “The lives of citizens are extremely valuable to us and we do care about the lives of this misguided group.”

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that it was the strategy of patience “that solved the crisis without shedding blood. When they asked for safety from Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, we gave it to them. The lives of Muslims are valuable to us. I pray that God will guide them to the path of reason.”

The king’s concern for the safety and wellbeing of the Saudi citizen was clear. “Who are we without the Saudi citizen? We derive our strength from God and then from our citizens.” The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that the “Saudi citizen is satisfied with his government and the government is proud of him and satisfied with him.”

The lengthy interview ended with King Abdullah still full of vitality and with a proud smile on his face as he concluded his remarks with expressions of love and praise for the Saudi citizen.