Missile fired at Saudi capital was Iranian: US official

US Air Force’s Central Commander in Qatar, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, right, addresses a press conference in Dubai on Friday. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Missile fired at Saudi capital was Iranian: US official

JEDDAH: Iran manufactured the ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward the Saudi capital and remnants of it bore “Iranian markings,” the top US Air Force official in the Middle East said on Friday.
“There have been Iranian markings on those missiles... To me, that connects the dots to Iran,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who oversees the Air Force’s Central Command in Qatar.
“How they got it there is probably something that will continue to be investigated over time,” he said. “What has been demonstrated based on the findings of that missile is that it had Iranian markings on it. That in itself provides evidence of where it came from.”
The missile was shot down on Nov. 4 near Riyadh’s international airport. Saudi investigators examining the remains of the rocket found evidence proving “the role of the Iranian regime in manufacturing them.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also described the missile as “obviously” Iranian.
He said that he was “very concerned” by Iran’s ballistic missile program, and raised the prospect of possible sanctions.
“There are extremely strong concerns about Iran. There are negotiations we need to start on Iran’s ballistic missiles,” he said.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said in a statement on Tuesday that a missile launch in July involved an Iranian Qiam-1, a liquid-fueled, short-range Scud missile variant.
Iran used a Qiam-1 in combat for the first time in June when it targeted Daesh militants in Syria over militant attacks in Tehran.
US warships have also been attacked by the Houthis. In October 2016, the US Navy said that the USS Mason came under fire from two missiles launched from Yemen. Neither reached the warship, though the US retaliated with Tomahawk cruise missile strikes on three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen’s Red Sea coast.
At the time, authorities said the missiles used in that attack were Silkworm missile variants, a type of coastal defense cruise missile that Iran has been known to use.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said that Lt. Gen. Harrigian’s comments supported Saudi Arabia’s case against Iran.
“This confirms what Saudi Arabia has stated,” he told Arab News. “This conclusively proves Iranian intervention in the region. Iran is using its deadly arsenal through the Houthis and Hezbollah.”
He said the statement was “a big indication” that the US shares the Saudi concern and was ready to back Saudi steps against Iran.
“Iran is exposed. The missile attack on Riyadh will not go unpunished. Saudi Arabia will take serious measures against Iran,” he said.
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said Lt. Gen. Harrigian’s statement is significant because a high-level official is confirming what many experts and policy analysts have said, which is that the Iranian regime was behind the attack against Saudi Arabia.
“It re-confirms the Iranian regime’s continuing belligerent behavior in the region, its pursuit for regional hegemony and its deep antagonism toward Saudi Arabia,” Rafizadeh told Arab News. “It shows that Saudi Arabia has never made allegations against the Iranian regime without proof and evidence.”
According to Rafizadeh, the Iranian regime’s involvement and cooperation with the Houthis “is much deeper than what the public generally knows.”
He said Tehran provides sophisticated training for conducting terror attacks, and that it arms and funds the Houthis on a much higher level.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said: “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been caught red-handed.
“For any skeptic that still denies the Houthis are a direct proxy of the Iranian government, keep in mind that the transfer and launch of such a sophisticated missile against the Saudi capital would not have been possible without the approval at the highest levels in Tehran.
“What this means is that there are likely Iranian Revolutionary guard officers or possibly Lebanese Hezbollah operatives on the ground embedded with the Houthi militias to help facilitate the movement of these missiles and the targeting process.”
Shahbandar wondered what the reaction would be if Riyadh had authorized a missile strike against Tehran.
“There would have been international uproar. Iran’s signature was literally discovered on the missile itself. It’s a dangerous escalation and it is important to publicly call out Iran for its direct involvement in the missile strike without any equivocation,” Shahbandar said.


Saudi crown prince signs raft of cooperation agreements with China

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signs an agreement between the Kingdom and China in Beijing on Friday. (SPA)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Saudi crown prince signs raft of cooperation agreements with China

  • the crown prince headed the Saudi delegation at the third session of the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee

BEIJING: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday met with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to discuss ways of further developing relations between the Kingdom and China.

The meeting took place in the grand surroundings of the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital Beijing. After their talks, the crown prince headed the Saudi delegation at the third session of the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee which he co-chaired with Zheng.

Delegates at the meeting discussed moves to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on trade, investment, energy, culture and technology, as well as the coordination of political and security matters. The committee also reviewed plans for greater integration between China’s Belt and Road development strategy and the Saudi Vision 2030 reform program.

After agreeing on the minutes of the meeting, the Saudi royal and Zheng took part in the signing of a range of agreements, memorandums of understanding (MoU), investment projects and bilateral cooperation accords between the Kingdom and China:

The cooperation agreement in maritime transport between the Chinese and Saudi governments, signed by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qassabi and Chinese Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng.

MoU between the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and the National Development and Reform Commission in China, signed by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

MoU between the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment to form a working group to facilitate trade, signed by Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, the Kingdom’s deputy minister of commerce and investment, and Qian Keming, Chinese vice minister of commerce.

Loan agreement between the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the Chinese Ministry of Finance to build and equip three hospitals in Yanbian city in Jilin Province, signed by Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir and the Chinese deputy finance minister.

Rehabilitation

Loan agreement between the SFD and Chinese Ministry of Finance to reconstruct and rehabilitate areas affected by earthquakes in Sichuan Province, signed by Al-Jubeir and the Chinese deputy finance minister.

Agreement between the Saudi Ministry of Interior and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to cooperate in fighting cybercrime, signed Nasser Al-Dawood, undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, and China’s deputy minister for public security.

MoU between the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia and China’s National Committee for energy to invest in renewable energy, signed by PIF head Yasir Al-Rumayyan, and the committee’s vice chairman.

Minutes of the meeting about cooperating in combating terrorism between the Saudi Presidency of State Security and Chinese Ministry of Public Security, signed by Lt. Gen. Abdullah Al-Qarni, deputy director-general of General Investigation for the Kingdom, and the Chinese minister.

MoU between the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property and the Chinese National Committee for Intellectual Property Rights, signed by Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Swailem, the authority’s executive chairman, and committee chairman Xin Xiangyu.

MoU to participate in investing in renewable energy projects, signed by the chairman of ACWA Power, Mohammed Abunayyan, and president of the Silk Road Fund, Wang Yanzhi.

Cooperation agreement for Saudi Aramco to acquire 9 percent of Chinese project Zhejiang Petrochemical, signed by Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser and Xung Wi, mayor of Zhushan.

Agreement between Saudi Aramco with NORINCO Group and Panjin Sincen to develop a fully integrated refining and petrochemical complex, located in the city of Panjin in China’s Liaoning province, signed by Nasser and Tang Yijun, governor of Liaoning province and chairman of NORINCO.