Arab leaders meet in Saudi Arabia as Syria tensions reach boiling point

Foreign Ministers pose for a group picture during the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers ahead of the 28th Summit of the Arab League in Riyadh on April 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Arab leaders meet in Saudi Arabia as Syria tensions reach boiling point

  • The fate of Jerusalem will also be on the agenda as the US prepares to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv after declaring it Israel’s capital
  • Saudi Arabia is likely to seek Arab support to pile the pressure on Iran

RIYADH: Leaders of the 22-nation Arab League, who will meet in the Saudi city of Dhahran on Sunday, are expected to stress continuity in their efforts to find a solution to the Syrian conflict. It follows airstrikes by the US, UK and France against the Assad regime on Saturday. The leaders are likely to seek Arab and international support to increase pressure on the regime to find a solution to the conflict.
Their push for a tough stand against Iran is expected to dominate the Arab League Summit as regional tensions grow over the wars in Syria and Yemen. 
The fate of Jerusalem will also be on the agenda as the US prepares to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv after declaring it Israel’s capital.
“All key regional issues are on the agenda, with Syria, Yemen and Palestine at the top,” Ali Al-Kayed, Jordanian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid, founding member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), said Saturday’s airstrikes are “largely welcomed by Western and Arab nations, which condemn (the regime’s) crimes against humanity by repeatedly using chemical weapons against civilians.”
He added: “There is an urgent need to defuse the crisis in Syria, where more than half of the population has either fled the country or become homeless.”
He asked: “Should the world sit and watch as an arrogant ruler (Syrian President Bashar Assad) commits genocide in his own country?”
Al-Qayid urged Arab leaders to take “stern and decisive action” to resolve the conflict once and for all. 
He commended the US, UK and France for Saturday’s attack, saying when a ruthless regime commits war crimes, the international community has the right to take action and save innocent civilians.
Arab leaders and heads of delegations started arriving in Dhahran on Saturday to take part in the summit, SPA reported.
They were received by Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, governor of Eastern Region; Prince Ahmed bin Fahad bin Salman, deputy governor, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, and a number of officials.

Iran’s interference
Thursday’s preparatory meeting of Arab foreign ministers said there could be “no peace and security in the region as long as Iran continues to interfere in the domestic affairs of Arab states.”
The meeting was led by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who received the Arab League’s rotating chairmanship from his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi in the presence of the secretary-general.  
Addressing the meeting, Aboul-Gheit said the decline of Arab influence on the situation in Syria had led to the “domination of foreign powers” there, paving the way for the country’s eventual disintegration. “The crisis in Syria can only be resolved through a political solution,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is likely to seek Arab support to pile the pressure on Iran, an analyst told AFP.
“Saudi Arabia is going to push for a much harsher stance on Iran — not necessarily on the nuclear dossier per se, but on Iranian influence in the Arab countries, particularly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,” said Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Affairs.


Saudi Arabia plans to introduce Chinese into the curriculum at all education levels

Updated 22 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia plans to introduce Chinese into the curriculum at all education levels

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and China on Friday agreed to include the Chinese language as a curriculum at all stages of education in schools and universities across the Kingdom.
The agreement came during a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a high-level Chinese delegation in the capital Beijing, in a bid to strengthen bilateral friendship and cooperation and deepen the strategic partnership at all levels between both countries.
The move aims to enable a comprehensive strategic partnership to achieve the aspirations of the Saudi and Chinese leaderships and seize the promising opportunities between their two peoples, a relationship which has extended for decades.
The inclusion of the Chinese language will enhance the cultural diversity of students in the Kingdom and contribute to the achievement of the future national goals in the field of education for the Vision 2030.
The introduction of Chinese into the curriculum is an important step toward opening new academic horizons for students of various educational levels in the Kingdom.
Learning Chinese will serve as a bridge between the two peoples and would contribute to increasing trade and cultural ties.