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Speaking in Paris on Monday 16 January 2017, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir expressed support for the efforts being made to advance the peace process in Syria. Mr Al-Jubeir met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the sidelines of the Middle East Peace Conference that took place in the French capital over the weekend. At the conference it was announced that the EU will host a conference on Syria and the region in Brussels in Spring 2017 focussing on the political process towards a transition. The aims of the conference are to take stock of the state of play of UN talks in Geneva; humanitarian work and support for resilience and stabilisation, to assess progress in implementing commitments made at last year’s conference in London and to identify possible gaps and how to address them, and possible support to post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation once a credible political transition is firmly underway.

Minister Al-Jubeir’s comments were also reflected in the UN Security Council meeting of 17 January, where the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi said the Kingdom would continue to participate in all international efforts towards achieving a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis. He expressed support for Council resolution 2336 (2016), which had called for a peaceful transition for Syria, as well as several General Assembly resolutions, including one which had called for the establishment of a mechanism to gather and document evidence and hold to account those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity. He underlined that the oppression by the Syrian regime, with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran, Hezbollah and other community militias, must come to an end, and the people of Syria must be able to determine their own political future.

Russia, Iran and Turkey’s proposed talks in the Kazakh capital Astana next week aim to reach a cease-fire in Syria. Mr Al-Jubeir said that these talks were worth testing, but should not be construed as Riyadh abandoning moderate opposition groups fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. “The objective is to arrive at a cease-fire and move on to the political process. Let us test it. So far it has not succeeded,” he said. “If it does, then we go down the political path, but that does not mean we abandon the moderate opposition.”

At their session, chaired by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh on Monday afternoon, the Cabinet discussed the outcome of the International Conference for Peace in the Middle East. Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Adel Al-Jubeir represented the Kingdom at the conference in Paris, which concluded its activities yesterday with a joint statement. The cabinet reiterated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s stance on the Palestinian issue is that there must be a two-state solution and that United Nations Security Council’s relevant resolutions are the only basis for resolving the conflict which was adopted by Arab Peace Initiative and has received the support of the international community.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia Welcomes  the proposals put forth by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:
Saudi Arabia views the proposals as being in accord with the majority of the resolutions of international legality and most of the elements of the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002 and by the Islamic Summit in Makkah in 2005, and that the proposals represent an appropriate basis for achieving a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

  • January 3, 2017

It was on 19 November 2016 that the command of the Saudi-led Arab alliance in Yemen gave its support to a 48-hour UN-backed ceasefire. The hope was that this respite from the bloodshed would allow for the delivery of sorely needed humanitarian aid across the country. It was also very clear that cessation of hostilities could be extended if the Iran-allied Houthi militia abided by the terms of truce. Importantly, this included allowing the entry of aid to the besieged areas of the war-torn country, particularly Taiz City, Yemen’s third largest city. What was formally the country’s vibrant cultural capital is now almost completely surrounded by the Houthis and their allies. The suffering of the city’s inhabitants is immeasurable.

Ultimately, the aim of the ceasefire was to bring about a permanent and lasting end to the conflict through the reopening of diplomatic channels. Alas, the Pacification Committee of the Yemeni army recorded in excess of 70 breaches of the truce by Houthi forces  its allies in Taiz province, only moments after the ceasefire came into effect. These infringements included shelling with heavy and medium weapons and sniping that wounded two civilians. Militia fired artillery and mortar shells at people’s homes in Al-Salow District and bombed the Al-Tabadud Valley area. Mortar rounds and rockets rained down indiscriminately across the different areas of Taiz City. In total, the ceasefire was broken 563 times in Yemen and 163 times on the Saudi border, a coalition official confirmed.

Beyond the flagrant contravention of the ceasefire terms, Houthi forces have frequently launched missiles into Saudi Arabian territory. On one occasion, the Houthis even went as far as to target the Holy City of Makkah, the holiest site of the Muslim world. When such atrocities are regularly attempted by the Houthis, there can be no foundation of trust on which to base a ceasefire. Saudi Arabia necessarily reserves the right to act with the utmost caution in brokering such ceasefires with the Houthis, bearing in mind that the protection of our own citizens must be our priority.

In a latest development, Houthis and General People’s Congress have unilaterally announced the formation of a new government that had legitimacy or support from the internationally recognised Yemeni government. These actions have been condemned by the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh, who said, the move “represents a new and concerning obstacle to the peace process and does not serve the interests of the people of Yemen in these difficult times.” Equally, the Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher said that Houthis and their allies are “certainly aware that they are undermining U.N. peace efforts when announcing a new government.”

We join Mr Ould Cheikh in his plea to the Houthis and the General People’s Congress to “re-think their approach & demonstrate their commitment to the peace process with concrete actions,” rather than illegitimate and damaging posturing. To end the conflict there must be a withdrawal from occupied cities, and a handing over arms to make way for a much-needed political process and reconstruction of the country.

november

 

KSA Mission Newsletter November 2016

This issue covers, amongst other things, the recent visit to Brussels of Dr Al-Rabeeah of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, our commitment to implementing the Paris Climate Agreement, the Saudi view on Iranian aggression and the controversial US JASTA bill, and our support of the UN’s World Food Program.

 

 

 

The US Congress’ Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (or JASTA) is of great concern to the whole community of nations that object to the erosion of the principle of sovereign immunity as well as the principle of sovereign equality between states enshrined in the UN Charter. The concept of sovereign immunity has governed international relations for hundreds of years. Removing or limiting these protections could have the unintended consequences of exposing countries to private lawsuits in foreign courts as a result of important military or intelligence activities.

Implementing JASTA would have a negative impact on the US, the European Union’s Member States and all nations. It is for this reason that the EU and several of its Member States as well as the US President, Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA have expressed their opposition to JASTA in its current form.

In a letter to the US Department of State, the EU delegation to Washington D.C. said the implementation of JASTA “would be in conflict with the fundamental principles of international law,” adding that it could “put a burden on bilateral relations between states as well as on the international order as a whole.”

The spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared that along with all EU partners, they consider that the so-called JASTA bill runs contrary to international law. These sentiments have also been echoed by a 28-strong bipartisan group of US senators in a letter addressed  to the sponsors of the bill, calling for the legislation to be narrowed in order to mitigate its unintended consequences. Equally Saudi Minister of Justice Dr. Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani said enacting JASTA would “trigger chaos in international relations, and would topple mutual trust between states and adversely affect all areas of international cooperation.”

It is our hope that wisdom will prevail and that Congress will take the necessary steps to correct this legislation in order to avoid the serious unintended consequences that may ensue.

 

  • October 3, 2016

Addressing the 71st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, told today that defeating terrorism is a priority for Saudi Arabia, which “has been among the primary victims of terrorism” going back many years.

Prince Mohammad said that the Kingdom has been the target of more than 100 terrorist operations since 1992, “including 18 carried out by elements with links to ‘a regional country.’”

The Crown Prince said that the Kingdom has “exerted strenuous efforts…to bring about peace and lay the foundations for security and stability since joining the organization, not just in our region, but also all over the world.”

“Saudi security apparatuses have also managed to detect 268 terrorist operations and thwarted them before they took place,” he said.

Prince Mohammad cited specifically the laws, regulations and other measures the Kingdom has enacted to criminalize the support and financing of acts of terrorism and “signed on to more than 12 international [counter terrorism] agreements.”

Prince Mohammad highlighted the Kingdom’s role in the formation of the multi-country Islamic Military Alliance to combat terrorism as well as the agreement Saudi Arabia signed with the U.S. to launch the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center and the Kingdom’s pledge of $110 million to the center to help build its capabilities and effectiveness in helping countries combat terrorism.

Prince Mohammad also called for an end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, condemning Israel’s “acts of aggression.”

The Crown Prince told the General Assembly that the Kingdom fully supports reaching a political solution in Yemen.

Prince Mohammad called for an end to the fighting in Syria and renewed efforts to find a political solution to the crisis according to the decisions of Geneva 1. Saudi Arabia has provided shelter for hundreds of thousands of Syrian people since the beginning of the crisis, including free health care, and access to the labor market and education.

Turning to Iran, Prince Mohammad said Saudi Arabia called on Iran to “build relations with its neighbors on the basis of the principles of good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.”

  • September 22, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman led a senior Saudi delegation to China and Japan, as part of a trip that  included the kingdom’s participation at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are also expected to play major roles.

The prince first visited China for talks on economic ties as well as security issues, before visiting Japan and meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prince Mohammed then returned to China on 3 September to join the leaders of the world’s twenty biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou. The event embodies an international forum bringing together governments and central bank governors and aims at studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman presents his economic reform plan to the G20, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals (€65 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy. Saudi officials will discuss energy cooperation agreements with China and Japan, including a plan to cooperate with China in storing crude oil, the Saudi cabinet has said.

The 25th session of the Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) took place yesterday evening in Brussels. Following the fruitful exchange between the ministers, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini expressed “a firm determination to expand and strengthen bilateral political, economic, cultural and social cooperation and relations” between the two blocs at a joint press conference.

In a statement published by the EU-GCC co-chairs, both parties agreed that cooperation serves as ”a solid and effective foundation for sustainable regional and international stability and security,” and pledged to “further enhance their political dialogue and cooperation.”

On the conflict in Yemen, all parties welcomed the resumption of the UN-mediated Yemen peace talks in Kuwait on 16 July and reiterated their support to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in facilitating a comprehensive and lasting settlement between Yemeni parties to restore peace and resume the transition in Yemen.

Federica Mogherini stressed the need “to work together to help the parties find common ground. There one area where convergence was complete between us and among the respective parties. We agreed there is only a political solution to the conflicts in Yemen and we’re trying to join forces to facilitate this process.” Mirroring these sentiments, Mr, Al-Jubeir added that “a political settlement in Yemen has to be based on three basic principles: the GCC initiative, the outcome of the Yemeni national dialogue and the UN Security Council resolution 2216.”

Al-Jubeir, speaking as the head of the rotating GCC presidency, said Saudi Arabia and its partners are working “to encourage the parties [in Yemen] to sign agreements and implement measures so that we can move Yemen from a state of war to a state of development, reconstruction and prosperity.”

During the meeting, ministers also reaffirmed their determination to counter terrorism and terrorism financing, and to defeat Da’esh and other terrorist organizations. They stressed the need to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis. They called for immediate country-wide humanitarian access allowing the delivery of aid to all besieged areas, emphasizing the importance of full and strict adherence to the cessation of hostilities arrangements.

EU and GCC Ministers also reviewed progress in the EU-GCC strategic relationship and “expressed their willingness to address together common political, social, economic, and security challenges, as well as macroeconomic stability and support for diversification strategies,” such as Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Plan, Vision 2030, noting that two-way trade between the blocs represented more than €155 billion in 2015, an increase of 55% since 2010.