Oman and Britain to open joint military training base

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson riding in a British Challenger II tank in Oman. (Ministry of Defence Twitter)
Updated 05 November 2018

Oman and Britain to open joint military training base

  • UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement after large-scale exercises in the sultanate
  • Earlier this year, Britain opened a permanent military base in Bahrain

LONDON: Oman and Britain will open a joint military training base next year to help counter the activities of hostile states and extremist groups.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the base would open in March.

He made the announcement as he visited the country to observe the end of a large-scale joint military exercise involving tens of thousands of personnel practicing desert combat.

“Our relationship with Oman is built on centuries of cooperation and we are cementing that long into the future with the opening of our new joint base,” Williamson said.

“This has never been more important as malign activity by hostile states and violent extremist organisations seek to undermine stability and subvert the rules based order on which we all rely.”

Earlier this year, Britain opened a permanent military base in Bahrain.

The Al Saif Al Sareea 3 military exercises included 70,000 defence personnel from Oman and 5,500 soldiers, sailors, pilots and engineers from the British Armed Forces.

Military commanders from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan and Egypt on Friday to attended the conclusion of Al Saif Al Sareea 3.

*With Reuters

Hariri: “Promising summer” for Lebanon after Saudi travel warning lifted

Updated 10 min 17 sec ago

Hariri: “Promising summer” for Lebanon after Saudi travel warning lifted

  • Saudi Arabia started warning its citizens of the instability in Lebanon in 2011
  • Lebanese PM Al-Hariri hopes for a series of agreements with Saudi Arabia

BEIRUT: More people have visited Lebanon since Saudi Arabia lifted its travel warning in February, pointing to a “promising summer” ahead, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said on Wednesday.
A fall in visitors from Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies has hit Lebanon’s tourism industry, once a mainstay of a now-battered economy that Hariri’s new government has pledged to revive.
Saudi Arabia was once a major supporter both of its political allies in Beirut, chiefly Hariri, and of the Lebanese state. However, mindful of its overarching rivalry with Iran, Riyadh stepped back as Iran’s Lebanese ally, the political and military Hezbollah movement, grew in strength.
Saudi Arabia had been advising its citizens since 2011 to avoid Lebanon, citing Hezbollah’s influence and instability from the war in neighboring Syria.
“Without doubt the Saudi leadership’s decision ... had the most impact in increasing the number of visitors to Lebanon recently, which gives the best proof of a promising summer,” Hariri said at a Beirut conference attended by the head of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman humanitarian center.
Hariri also said he hoped that a pledge from Riyadh to help Lebanese families in need would spark a series of agreements between the two countries.
With pillars of the economy such as tourism and real estate in the doldrums, Lebanon has suffered years of low economic growth, and run up one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
Saudi ties with Lebanon hit a low in November 2017, when Hariri was held against his will in Riyadh, announcing his resignation in a TV statement.
After French intervention, Hariri returned to Lebanon and withdrew the resignation, resolving the crisis. Though Hariri has always denied having been held in Saudi Arabia, French President Emmanuel Macron publicly confirmed it last year.