Saudi Embassy in US appoints Arab News columnist Fahad Nazer as spokesperson

The Saudi Embassy in Washington. (Twitter: @SaudiEmbassyUSA)
Updated 24 January 2019

Saudi Embassy in US appoints Arab News columnist Fahad Nazer as spokesperson

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington has appointed Arab News columnist Fahad Nazer as its official spokesperson, it was confirmed on Thursday.

Nazer replaces Fatimah Baeshen, who served in the role since September 2017. Baeshen is returning to her field of socioeconomic development work, according to an embassy statement.  

“We are pleased to welcome Fahad as spokesperson for the embassy in Washington, D.C. His vast knowledge of Saudi Arabia's political and socio-economic landscapes will undoubtedly help him to tell the story of the Kingdom in the United States,” said Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi ambassador to the US, in a statement. 

“We are immensely grateful to Fatimah Baeshen for the tremendous service she provided on behalf of the Kingdom, and we wish her luck in her next endeavors. I am confident Fahad will continue her excellent work, and that his expertise and insights will greatly contribute to the team here in Washington and its core objective of strengthening Saudi-US relations.”

Fahad Nazer

Before his appointment, Nazer was an International Fellow at the National Council on US-Arab Relations, where he provided expertise on political, social, and economic developments in Saudi Arabia, and on the threat posed by extremist groups on the Arabian Peninsula.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the Kingdom as spokesperson for the Embassy,” Nazer said. “Through his leadership, Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman has built an exceptionally talented team with a determination and vigor reflective of the Saudi people. I look forward to working within the team to build greater understanding, and deepen the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

Nazer, who has been a frequent columnist for this newspaper, has held positions with JTG, Inc., Array Information Technology, Inc., and the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He previously served as a political consultant to the embassy.

He confirmed his appointment in a Twitter post.

He thanked Prince Khalid bin Salman for appointing him to the role.

“I look forward to playing my role in strengthening the Kingdom’s strategic partnership with the United States of America,” Nazer said in a tweet.

Journalist murder marks upsurge in N. Ireland unrest

Journalist Lyra McKee poses for a portrait outside the Sunflower Pub on Union Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland May 19, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 min 45 sec ago

Journalist murder marks upsurge in N. Ireland unrest

  • McKee, 29, was shot in the head late Thursday by, police believe, dissident republicans linked to the New IRA paramilitary group as they clashed with police in Northern Ireland’s second city

DUBLIN: The killing of a journalist in Londonderry marks the latest upsurge of violence in Northern Ireland — where fears are growing that a fragile and hard-won peace is increasingly at risk.
Lyra McKee, 29, was shot dead during a riot as dissident republicans clashed Thursday with police in the province’s second city — a historic flashpoint in the three decades of violence known as “The Troubles.”
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement largely ended the turbulence in Northern Ireland — mandating a withdrawal of British security forces and the disarming of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary group.
But dissident republicans — seeking Northern Ireland’s departure from the United Kingdom and integration into the Republic of Ireland through violent means — remain active.
Police believe the New IRA splinter group is behind McKee’s murder.

Among commentators there is a wide-held belief that the perpetrators are youngsters not old enough to remember “The Troubles,” and are being manipulated by a radical older element.
“There’s a dangerous radicalization of young people in Derry by those linked to and on the periphery of the New IRA,” wrote The Irish Times newspaper’s security correspondent Allison Morris.
Police Service of Northern Ireland detective superintendent Jason Murphy, who is leading the probe into McKee’s death, warned: “What we’re seeing is a new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks.”
Two men aged 18 and 19 were arrested Thursday but later released without charges.
Police appealed again to the community for help in finding the killer.
“I know there will be some people who know what happened but are scared to come forward but if you have information, no matter how small, please contact detectives,” said Murphy, stressing that the information would be treated as “100 percent anonymous.”

McKee’s murder follows a car bomb in Londonderry in January and a spate of letter bombs sent to British targets in March — both claimed by the New IRA.
There is speculation that Brexit — which has raised the spectre of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland — is acting as an irritant to dissident republicans.
Proposed divorce deals with the EU could see Northern Ireland more closely aligned to the Republic of Ireland or bound tighter in union with mainland Britain — raising competing loyalist and republican visions of the future.
Kieran McConaghy, a lecturer in terrorism at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said it was “hard to say” whether Brexit has played a “major role” in recent attacks, as such events have been consistent since the cease-fire.
Since the British government began publishing security assessments in 2010, the threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland has remained at “severe” — denoting that an attack is considered “highly likely.”
However, “Brexit hasn’t been good for stability in Northern Ireland,” McConaghy told CBC.
“It has made people more uncomfortable with the peace process in Northern Ireland, which is seen to be faltering at present.
“Politicians would do well to try and clarify some of the uncertainty... so that organizations like the New IRA and others don’t fill that political vacuum.”
There are particular fears that a no-deal hard Brexit would see checks erected along the 500-kilometer (310-mile) border, which would offer dissident militants a natural target.

Following McKee’s murder, police in the republican area of Londonderry where McKee was killed say they have experienced a “sea change” in previously-strained community attitudes toward officers.
The Free Derry Corner landmark wall has been repainted to reflect the local community’s revulsion.
Underneath the sign “You are now entering free Derry,” marking the start of a republican area, a message now reads: “Not in our name. R. I. P. Lyra.”
In the wake of her murder, Northern Ireland’s six main political parties — including rival unionists and republicans who have been unable to form a devolved government for more than two years — issued a rare joint statement.
“It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere,” it read.