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.


UN backs Saudi calls on justice, crime prevention

Abdullah bin Fakhri Al-Ansari. (Supplied)
Updated 8 min 6 sec ago
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UN backs Saudi calls on justice, crime prevention

  • KSA called on member states to review national legislation to exchange experiences and techniques to effectively combat cybercrime
  • Summit resolutions target terror, cybercrime, online child abuse

GENEVA: A UN commission on crime prevention has unanimously ratified resolutions by Saudi Arabia targeting terrorism, child exploitation and cybercrime.
The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice ratification came during its 28th session at the UN headquarters in Vienna.
The most important of the Kingdom’s four resolutions seeks to combat child sexual exploitation through the internet, provide technical assistance for the implementation of international conventions to fight terrorism, and strengthen technical assistance and international cooperation to combat cybercrime.
Through these resolutions, the Kingdom highlighted the need for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to help provide access to justice for victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse through the Internet according to national legislation.
Saudi Arabia called on member states to exchange experiences on raising awareness and reporting cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation and urged them to learn from the experiences of other states in fighting extremism, recruitment and incitement of individuals to carry out terrorist acts.
The Kingdom also called on member states to review national legislation to exchange experiences and techniques to effectively combat cybercrime.
Saudi Arabia emphasized the main topics to be discussed during the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in Kyoto, Japan, and the need to focus on strengthening confidence in the rule of law, international coordination and cooperation in criminal matters, and deepening public-private sector partnerships in crime prevention efforts.
Addressing the commission’s 28th session, Abdullah bin Fakhri Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Saudi Interior Ministry, said that terrorism poses a major threat to international peace and security, and undermines the fundamental values ​​of the UN.
Al-Ansari, who is also the ministry’s director general of legal affairs and international cooperation, called for coordination and cooperation between states and organizations at regional and international levels to fight terrorism, exchange best practices, and assist in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases.
Leading the Saudi delegation at the conference, he called for the provision of technical assistance in capacity-building, prevention, awareness-raising, international cooperation, data collection, research, and analysis to combat cybercrime.
Al-Ansari stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation around the world to track down perpetrators by criminalizing the possession, distribution, and production of child sexual abuse materials.
He highlighted the importance of capacity-building, the provision of services and support to victims of child abuse through the Internet, providing training and strengthening the technical capacity of law enforcement agencies, providing technical support for the development of effective policies and programs, and implementing awareness-raising and education campaigns to protect children from abuse.