Saudi commerce minister upbeat on Saudi-Iraq trade boost

Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi
Updated 24 October 2017
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Saudi commerce minister upbeat on Saudi-Iraq trade boost

RIYADH: Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi said on Monday that Saudi-Iraqi relations are entering a new era with an ambitious program.
He said the leaders of the two countries are working to establish an ambitious phase of unlimited trade, economic and investment activities, especially with the launch of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, which is the cornerstone of the medium- and long-term businesses and planning programs.
The minister’s remarks follow the council’s maiden session that took place in Riyadh on Sunday in the presence of King Salman and Iraqi Premier Haider Al-Abadi during the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
He said that the bilateral meetings between the leaders of the two countries contributed to shaping trade relations in the next phase by opening all channels of cooperation to serve the interests of the two countries.
Al-Qassabi recalled that the bilateral trade volume between the Kingdom and Iraq reached SR23 billion ($6.13 billion) over the last 10 years (2006 to 2016. The trade balance was in favor of the Kingdom.
The volume of trade exchange during 2016 reached SR2.23 billion, which includes exports worth SR2.2 billion to Iraq and SR24 million in imports from Iraq to the Kingdom.
Crude oil and relevant products, fruit juices, fruits, vegetables and cheese topped the list of key Saudi goods exported to Iraq in 2016, while the list of imported goods from Iraq included aluminum sheets and transport containers.
Following a recent Cabinet decision, the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was set up under the joint chairmanship of Al-Qassabi from the Saudi side, and Dr. Salman Al-Jumaili, minister of planning and acting minister of trade, from the Iraqi side.
It was geared toward illustrating Saudi Arabia’s desire to improve relations and to enhance the trade opportunities under joint cooperation.
In August, Al-Qassabi headed a high-level delegation of government officials and businessmen to Baghdad to develop and deepen strategic and economic relations between both sides, as well as to discuss and review promising investment opportunities.
Besides trade and investment opportunities, the two parties also concentrated on other sectors such as industry, agriculture, education, health and others.


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.