Saudi Arabia, Bahrain voice support for US missile strike on Syria

US President Donald Trump ordered a massive military strike against a Syria on Thursday. (AFP/US NAVY)
Updated 07 April 2017

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain voice support for US missile strike on Syria

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are among the first Middle Eastern nations to have expressed support for the US missile strike on Syria early Friday, which came in response to an apparent chemical attack by President Bashar Assad’s regime.
An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s “strong support for the military operations carried out against military targets in Syria,” according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The US strike “came in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against innocent civilians that caused the deaths of scores of people, including women and children,” the statement said. 

The official source places the responsibility for these military operations squarely on the Syrian regime.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump ordered a massive military strike on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a “barbaric” chemical attack he blamed on Assad.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs source described the move as a “courageous decision” after the failure of the international community to stop the Syrian regime “from brutalizing its people.”
Bahrain also welcomed the US military strikes that followed the apparent chemical attack targeting the town of Khan Sheikhun in Syria. Bahrain said the move was necessary to save the lives of the Syrian people and prevent the spread and use of banned weapons against innocent civilians. 
The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday underlined the huge efforts exerted by the US in combating terrorism, and asserted the Kingdom’s support in this regard. 
It called on all parties to commit to working seriously and transparently to end the Syrian people’s suffering, and to implement a cease-fire to pave the way for negotiations and a comprehensive political solution.
The Syrian army said that at least six people were killed and serious damage was caused by the strike on an airbase in the centre of the country.
“At 3:42 am (0042 GMT) the United States carried out a flagrant aggression with missiles against one of our airbases in the central region, killing six people and wounding a number of others, and causing significant damage,” a spokesman said, reading from a statement on state television, without specifying whether the casualties were civilian or military.
In a brief televised address delivered hours after the UN Security Council failed to agree on a probe into the apparent chemical attack, Trump confirmed the US strike on Syria and urged “all civilized nations” to unite to end the bloodshed in the country.

“On Tuesday Syrian dictator Bashar Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent,” Trump said. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”

“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

“Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” Trump said.

The US military fired dozens of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airfield at 8:45 p.m. Eastern Time (0000 GMT), officials said.
Some Russian officials believe that the US air strikes on a Syrian airbase could undermine efforts to fight terrorism, RIA news agency quoted Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defence and security committee at the Russian upper house of parliament, as saying on Friday.

He also said that Russia would call for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.

A White House official said 59 “precision munitions” had been blasted at the base, while a US defense official said “dozens” of Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched.

The missiles were fired from the USS Porter and the USS Ross, which belong to the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet and are located in the eastern Mediterranean. A US official said the missiles targeted aircraft and runways at the base.

The sudden US military action against the Assad regime marks a stunning development in Syria’s brutal, six-year conflict and a sudden about-face for Trump.

It came despite a warning from Russia of potential “negative consequences” if Washington strikes Syria.

“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.

A US official said Washington had informed Russia ahead of the Syria strike.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had earlier vowed an “appropriate response” to the attack in Khan Sheikhun in rebel-held Idlib province, which killed at least 86 people, including 27 children.

The White House official said the US assesses that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with sarin in Tuesday’s attacks.
The fast-moving events come just days after the Trump administration had signaled it was no longer seeking the Syrian leader’s departure from power.
 The attack on Khan Sheikhun appears to have marked a turning point for Trump and his administration.

On Wednesday Trump decried the attack as an “affront to humanity.” He seemed horrified by photographs showing dead children and victims suffering convulsions, breathing problems and foaming at the mouth.

“It crossed a lot of lines for me,” Trump said, alluding to Barack Obama’s failure to enforce his own “red line” on the use of chemical weapons in Syria four years ago.

In 2013, Trump had urged then-president Obama not to intervene against Assad.
 In a startling about-turn, Tillerson called Thursday for “a political process that would lead to Assad leaving” and said his future role in the country was “uncertain.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday repeated the regime’s denial it conducted a chemical strike.

“The Syrian army has not, did not and will not use this kind of weapons — not just against our own people, but even against the terrorists that attack our civilians with their mortar rounds,” he said.

Russia has stood by its longtime ally, with President Vladimir Putin warning against a rush to judgment.

Putin underlined “the unacceptability of making unfounded accusations against anyone before a thorough and impartial international investigation is carried out.”

The UN children’s agency UNICEF says at least 546 people were wounded in the suspected chemical attack.

More than 30 people were transferred across the border into Turkey for treatment, and Ankara said a preliminary probe found a link between these injuries and sarin.
(With Agencies)

Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018

Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.