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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.”

JANUARY

 

KSA Mission Newsletter January 2017

The first issue of 2017 looks into Saudi Arabia’s strong record on counter-terrorism, the Kingdom’s provision of humanitarian aid and relief to Syrians in need and foreign policy priorities, as well as giving an update on the progress made in the Vision 2030 economic roadmap for the Kingdom. The issue examines how the Riyadh metro project is set to reshape the Saudi capital, and profiles the women making their mark in a new role in the Kingdom’s airports.

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.”

On Monday 30 May, the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir met with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini in Jeddah where they discussed matters of common interest, including economic affairs, the fight against terrorism and the regional challenges being faced in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

At a press conference following the meeting, the Foreign Minister said that Saudi Arabia and the EU enjoy strong ties in economic, political, educational and social spheres. In particular, High Representative Mogherini highlighted how Europe would contribute to Saudi Vision 2030 and underlined that the ambitious roadmap offers opportunities for bilateral cooperation between the kingdom and the European Union in various fields.

On the conflict in Syria, Minister Al-Jubeir thanked the EU countries for their support of Syrian refugees and for a political solution. Minister Al-Jubeir said that there is an international consensus that the solution includes an establishment of a transitional governing body that removes power from Bashar al-Assad in order to institute a new constitution and democratic elections. Ms Mogherini highlighted the importance of maintaining the cessation of hostilities on the ground, and of political negotiations being started alongside this. She noted that there had been no direct discussions thus far, and underlined the urgency of advancing the peace process.

The joint priority of deepening counter-­terrorism coordination and cooperating on the prevention of radicalisation was also expressed by both parties.

In addition, Federica Mogherini announced that a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial meeting would be held in Brussels in July, during which the negotiations for an EU­-GCC free trade negotiation would be addressed. Ms Mogherini noted that there is a willingness on both sides to reach an agreement and that there are only minor issues left to be resolved. She noted that EU would be “flexible to find ways of accommodating different views,” in closing a mutually beneficial deal.

EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said on Tuesday 25 May that the EU is stepping up its anti-terrorism cooperation with the Arab world and praised the anti-radicalisation programmes in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries such as Saudi Arabia.

During a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s committees on Foreign Affairs and Development, Mr De Kerchove, the EU’s top anti-terror official, explained that more and more countries in the Middle East and North Africa want to engage with the EU in counter-terrorism and deradicalisation programmes.

During the debate , the chair of the Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, Michèle Alliot-Marie asked whether Mr De Kerchove planned exchanges with Gulf countries on the matter given their track record in deradicalisation and their position in the region and religion?”

They have an impressive success rate. We can draw inspiration from their experiences. We want to and do cooperate with Saudi Arabia on many fronts.

In response De Kerchove said “We have much to learn,” and noted that he has visited the Saudi deradicalisation centre in Riyadh. “They have an impressive success rate. We can draw inspiration from their experiences. We want to and do cooperate with Saudi Arabia on many fronts. However, Europe has to define its own model,” he added. “Let us explore with our partner countries in the Arab world how together we can connect our thoughts in the fight against this perversion of Islam and Daesh.”

To address the problem of terrorism at its root, Saudi Arabia in 2005 launched a large-scale national campaign to raise public awareness of the risks of extremist ideology, which continues to this day. Through cooperation, European countries stand to benefit from the Saudi experiences of fighting extremism and radical thought. For instance, there is rich expertise to be tapped from the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counselling and Care Center which rehabilitates extremists and the Assakina Campaign for Dialogue, which works to correct misinterpretation of Islamic doctrines about violence, reject excess and promote moderation.

Ambassador Abdulrahman AlAhmed participated to the inaugural EU-GCC Business Forum that took place in Brussels on 23 and 24 May at the European Economic and Social Committee. Amongst the panellists were Mr. Imad Al Abdul Qader, Director Investor Attraction, SAGIA and H.E. Mr. Nabil Molla, Secretary General, Gulf Standard Organisation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who spoke in a panel on enhancing trade, investments and competitiveness, as well as Mr Tarik Al Haidari, Board member, Council of Saudi Chambers, who intervened in a panel on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.