Editorial: ‘What a save’ by Saudi security forces

Saudi security officials foil what would have been a certain bloodbath at Al-Jawhara. (AN photo by Ahmed Hashad)
Updated 31 October 2016

Editorial: ‘What a save’ by Saudi security forces

Saudi Arabia won more than just a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 11, 2016. According to the information which was revealed by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) yesterday, the Kingdom’s security forces foiled a terrorist plot, which could have — perish the thought — cost the lives of nearly 60,000 spectators who came to Jeddah’s Al-Jawhara Stadium to cheer the Saudi and UAE national teams that night.
Without a shred of doubt, all security officers who worked on this operation deserve nothing less than our utmost respect and recognition.
However, this is not just because of their success in intelligence gathering, security measures and the swift arrest of all four Daesh-related suspects (2 Pakistanis, a Syrian and a Sudanese); but also for the delicate, calm and sensible approach in which the whole matter was conducted.
After all, the game went on, the audience enjoyed their night and footballers from both sides were able to deliver a spectacular match thanks to the courage, sacrifice and professional handling of the situation by the Kingdom’s army of ‘unknown soldiers’ of intelligence officers.
Similarly, we can’t ignore the courage, sacrifices and professionalism of the Saudi military and the Arab Coalition to restore the legitimate government in Yemen. Only a few days ago these brave men downed a ballistic missile near the holy city of Makkah, and for over a year and a half have been protecting the Kingdom’s southern borders from Houthi militia attacks which deliberately target civilians.
A few things to note here: Most importantly, we should always remember there is no country in the whole world that is immune to terrorist attacks. The sad truth is that there is nothing that could stop a mad person from deciding to commit mass-murder anywhere, anytime.
However, yesterday’s revelations by the MoI shouldn’t frighten people in the Kingdom; on the contrary, they should reassure us that as we put our children to bed every night, there are those who stay awake and on high-alert to ensure that they remain safe.
Furthermore, those who still insist that the Kingdom secretly supports Daesh should take some time and contemplate over what could have happened three weeks ago at Al-Jawhara Stadium.
It is simply absurd that some people fail to see that — just like Paris, New York or London — Jeddah and Riyadh are also targets of the same terrorists Saudis are wrongly accused of supporting.

EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

Saudi drivers take a flooded street in Jeddah on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017

EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

It has happened again. The roads, streets and many underpasses in Jeddah were flooded with rainwater on Tuesday. Many areas were turned into lakes because of the heavy, though forecast, downpour. In some areas, water was knee-deep while in others it was chest-deep. People were stuck in their vehicles and many were seen pushing their vehicles to the side of the roads with great difficulty. In low-lying areas, citizens struggled to remove their belongings from flooded houses.

For the residents of Jeddah, rain has, more often than not, brought trouble and devastation. Whenever the skies open up, thoughts go back to that “Black Wednesday” of November 25, 2009, when more than 100 people lost their lives and property worth billions of riyals was destroyed. An investigation was opened into the disaster and some of the guilty were taken to court and tried; some of the small fry were even jailed. As has been the case in the past, the mighty arm of the law could barely touch those at the top who enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

And so it was business as usual until the rain began to wreak havoc again, reminding us that the laws of nature take their course and that hiding your head in the sand does not chase the clouds away.

Having said that, it must be admitted that, yes, lessons were learned. A disaster management team was set up. The weather forecast department became active in issuing alerts. In fact, Tuesday could have been far worse had it not been for the timely alert from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and a prompt decision by the Ministry of Education to suspend classes, schools and universities in and around Jeddah. That helped in keeping people and vehicles off the streets. At noon on Tuesday, it looked as if the city were under some kind of curfew.

The questions that are on everyone's minds right now are: Why is it that rain renders the city helpless and immobile at this time every year? Why have efforts to create effective rainwater drainage systems not borne fruit despite pumping billions of riyals into new projects such as dams and canals? Why is it that the authorities are found wanting whenever heavy rain occurs? More importantly, what is the solution?

Here is the answer. These floods are a stark reminder of why the current drive against corruption is so essential. It is required in order to instill the fear of law into high-ranking officials and heads of construction companies and civic bodies who have failed in their responsibilities. Those who have cut corners and have pocketed public money, those who have not delivered on the projects and who have provided substandard services must pay for their sins of omission.

This is exactly what is happening. No one is above the law. The guilty, whoever they are, however high up they are, will have to pay — and they are. In this new era of transparency and accountability — initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — word has gone down from top to bottom that no one is immune. If you are guilty you will be punished. Those responsible for the havoc of the floods on Tuesday will have no rest either.