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The Saudi ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg and the head of the Mission to the EU, H.E. Mr Abdulrahman S. Alahmed, today represented the Kingdom at the international conference for the future of Syria and the surrounding region.

Hoping for a productive exchange, Ambassador Alahmed reasserted the Kingdom’s position that the unity and territorial integrity of Syria, its security and military institutions must be preserved.

The government of my country has, since the beginning of the conflict, sought to forge the peaceful solutions necessary for Syria’s future, and has cooperated with other partners and allies to avoid the human tragedy we are currently witnessing.”

Mr Alahmed recalled the success of the 2015 conference in Riyadh where the Syrian Supreme Commission of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces – the representative body entrusted with negotiating in the name of the Syrian Opposition – was established. The body, welcomed both regionally and internationally “has since served as a negotiation reference in all rounds held since that date. The body still participates in negotiations, and has demonstrated genuine efforts to be cooperative and flexible, as witnessed by all parties-“ This is in spite of the intransigence of the Assad regime and its allies, who have exploited the negotiations in order to carry out further crimes against the Syrian people.

The Ambassador underlined the Kingdom’s support for the efforts of the Special Envoy of the United Nations General Secretary Mr Staffan De Mistura and his efforts to find a political and peaceful solution that excludes Bashar al Assad. “The Kingdom supports his efforts to advance the negotiation process between the Syrian parties in Geneva and progress towards solutions based upon the first Geneva Convention, UN resolution 2254 and the other international resolutions.” He called on all parties to abide by international law and agreement on respecting ceasefires, delivering humanitarian aid and releasing detainees and abductees held by the regime and its militias.

Mr Alahmed renewed Saudi Arabia’s calls on the international community to stand firmly against the interference of Iranian militia and their efforts to impose demographic change, sectarianism and ethnic cleansing in Syria, including the forced displacement of people in the pursuit of such in some areas of the country.

Saudi Arabia, he said “affirms the importance of imposing sanctions on the perpetrators of war crimes in Syria, and in this regard, praises the UN General Assembly’s resolution 2332 issued on 22 December 2016, calling for the establishment of a retribution mechanism for war crimes in Syria, which should be activated promptly.”

The Saudi Ambassador referred to the Kingdom’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrians both through substantial humanitarian aid and relief, as well as welcoming 2.5 million Syrian refugees as Saudi citizens with access to medical and educational services and the ability to take up jobs.

Substantial humanitarian aid and relief were offered either through donor’s conferences, or by national campaign programs to support our brothers in Syria, or through the “King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.” Many of these programs are still active both in Syria and in the neighbouring countries (Turkey – Jordan – Lebanon). The total value of Saudi humanitarian aid and relief has reached over 780 million US Dollars in addition to the commitments taken through donors’ conferences.”

Ambassador Alahmed

H.E. the Ambassador concluded that “It is wrong to downplay the Syrian crisis in terms of its human suffering. The extent of pain, grief and tragedy is unprecedented. Yet, perhaps the ugliest aspect of the war is the survival of the Syrian regime and its persistence in its criminal approach. Indeed, only hours ago, the news circulated that the regime was using Sarin gas in the countryside of Idlib in a new criminal move showing the indifference of this regime to international decisions and demands.”

Statement

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to combatting terrorism and radicalisation is all too often unacknowledged or understated. Saudi Arabia does not fund, support or excuse any radical institution in Belgium, Europe or anywhere. In fact, the Kingdom is recognised as a pioneer in addressing the problem of radicalisation and terrorism at its root.

Falsehoods linking Saudi Arabia and its values to extremism cannot be allowed to circulate unchallenged. Extremist thought and acts of senseless violence are diametrically opposed to what the Kingdom stands for. To tar Saudi Arabia with the same brush as Da’esh/ISIS  is lax.

In reality, condemnation of terrorism permeates all levels of Saudi society from King Salman bin Abdulaziz to the Saudi citizen, and it is clear to see why. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace and home of Islam; the Kingdom’s culture, society and justice are closely tied to Islamic values of peace and tolerance. To commit a terrorist act is therefore deeply un-Islamic and, by extension, profoundly un-Saudi.

“The biggest challenge facing our Islamic nation is how to keep our youth, the real wealth and hope of the future, away from the dangers facing them – particularly extremism and violence – and distance them from masterminds of misleading ideas that force them to behave in extraordinary ways that contradict the principles of our Islamic religion and the pillars and values of our Islamic societies.”

King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, July 2016

This logic is reinforced by the ‘Majlis Hay’at Kibar al-‘Ulama’ – The Council of Senior Scholars. The Council is the Kingdom’s highest religious body, which finds consensus between learned religious scholars from a broad spectrum of Sunni Muslim schools of thought. The Council advises the King on religious matters through its ‘fatwas’ or decisions, which are well respected, not only in the Kingdom, but by Muslims around the world. Condemnation of terrorism from the Council has been unwavering, issuing its first fatwa on the subject in 1988.

The Council has consistently made clear that acts of terrorism cannot be considered in any way Islamic, nor their perpetrators Muslim. In 2010, the Council defined terrorism as any “crime seeking to corrupt and destabilise the security of life and property, private and public, such as destroying housing, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, blowing up or hijacking airplanes, or the usurpation of the public resources of the state such as oil and gas reserves and all such acts of corruption and vandalism are prohibited in Islam. Whosoever alleges that it is jihad is ignorant and misguided. It is in no way jihad for the sake of Allah.”

More recently, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars in June 2016 stated that “Islam outlaws terrorism and considers it as a corruption in the land, which ultimately serves only the people with racist believes that spread hatred and push for more division, which does not serve to build a world of order and a recognition of rights.”

In September 2014 the Council pronounced that “Terrorism is a heinous crime perpetrating injustice and aggression and is rejected by the Shariah, sound disposition and common sense in all its forms.” It is important also to underline the universality of the Council’s decisions regarding terrorism. Fatwas unfailingly call on the whole world to stand against it, and the Senior Scholars respond to heinous acts wherever they are committed.

Following the horrific terroristic attacks in Paris in 2015, it was reiterated that “Islam bans this terrorist action and does not accept any justification for it.” In the wake of the further lamentable attacks in Brussels in March 2016, the Council of Senior Scholars “affirmed that the whole world should unify to fight terrorism whatever its source is and regardless of the targeted region, and that the criminalisation of terrorism should not be justified in a region unlike the other, this will be a mean of intensifying terrorism and expanding it”.

Months later, when the scourge of terrorism re-emerged in Nice, France, the Council stated that “Islam magnifies the sanctity of human blood and criminalizes terrorism that kills and terrorizes innocent people in their homes, markets and facilities teeming with men, women and children, and that all humanity rejects and condemns it”.

The Kingdom’s rejection of all forms of terrorism is not merely empty words but also reflected in its actions. Most notable among these is Saudi Arabia leadership in the Islamic Alliance against Terrorism. On the occasion of the Alliance’s announcement, the Council declared that “fighting and combating terrorism are one of the most important duties imposed by the Islamic religion, which is a duty at a time where the Islamic world has to be urged to fight and cooperate against it.” In an age where wilful disinformation is become increasingly prevalent in our societies, it is of paramount that we strive more than ever to read beyond the sensationalist headlines, scratch beneath the surface of unfounded allegations, and examine the facts more rigorously.

Those trying to link ISIS to Islam, Sunnis or so-called Wahhabis or to the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, are mistaken. ISIS and what they’re doing is not Islam. Islam does not justify the killing of innocent people. Islam does not justify violence and does not justify hate. Islam is a religion of moderation, tolerance, love and mercy. What these criminals are doing has nothing to do with Islam.

Our Kingdom will continue to support national and international authorities to help eradicate the terrorist scourge and its supporters from our societies.

Ambassador Abdulrahman S. Alahmed

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Belgium & Luxembourg
Head of the Saudi Mission to the European Union

Mars FR

 

La newsletter de la Mission saoudienne auprès de l’UE – mars 2017

Cette édition vous tiendra informés de la contribution saoudienne à un nouveau fonds pour la protection du patrimoine exposé au risque de destruction par des groupes extrémistes, de la situation au Yémen ainsi que de l’appel saoudien à la paix dans le pays, d’une coopération potentiellement plus étroite entre l’UE et le Royaume saoudien dans la lutte contre le terrorisme et de la visite prometteuse du Vice-prince héritier Mohammed ben Salmane au Président des États-Unis Donald Trump à Washington.