King Salman: We reject move to undermine Syrian sovereignty of Golan Heights

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(L to R) Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi stand together for the group family photo with other Arab leaders during the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz attends the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz attends the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (AFP)
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From left, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, attend the opening of the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP)
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Arab leaders pose together for the group family photo with other Arab leaders during the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (AFP)
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Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (C) chairs a session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 01 April 2019
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King Salman: We reject move to undermine Syrian sovereignty of Golan Heights

  • Saudi king addresses Arab League summit in Tunis
  • Says Palestinian issue is a top priority for the Kingdom

TUNIS: Any moves to undermine Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights should be rejected, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told the Arab League summit on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump last week signed a proclamation recognizing the Golan as Israeli, less than four months after saying Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

King Salman said at the Arab League summit in Tunis that he absolutely rejects any measures that impact on Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“We reaffirm our absolute rejection of any measures that encroach upon Syrian sovereignty over the Golan, and we stress the importance of reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis that will guarantee Syria's security, unity and sovereignty and prevent foreign intervention.”

He also reiterated Saudi Arabia’s position supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. He said the Palestinian issue was a top priority for Saudi Arabia.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said that the Golan Heights is occupied Arab land, and rejected the US decision over sovereignty of territory.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the US decision is contrary to all international conventions. 

He also said that Iran and Turkey have "worsened some crises and created new problems," calling on Arab leaders to "unite as one force under one umbrella against the regional interventions."

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim abruptly left the Arab League summit after it opened and did not give a speech, Qatar News Agency reported. He left the Arab League summit “in protest at criticism of Turkey,” Al Arabiya reported citing news websites close to Qatar. 

Arab League spokesman Mahmoud Afifi said earlier that the 22-member bloc will aim to issue a proclamation affirming the international consensus that the Golan is occupied Syrian land.

King Salman praised the positive outcome of the Arab League Summit as he left Tunisia.  

The king also met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the summit. During the meeting, they reviewed regional developments and various efforts aimed at achieving peace and stability in the region.

In their final statement after the daylong summit, the leaders affirmed that the Golan, a strategic plateau once used to shell northern Israel, is "Syria's occupied territory."

The leaders also called on Iran to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries and condemned the Houthis' firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia.  

The annual summit also addressed the issue of readmitting Syria as a member of the Arab League, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iranian interference in Arab countries, and the war in Yemen.

The pan-Arab bloc froze Syria's membership in 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protesters.

Many Arab countries have recently renewed ties with the government of President Bashar Assad.


Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

Updated 17 June 2019
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Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have removed nearly 30 kilometers of concrete blast walls across Baghdad in the last six months, mostly around the capital’s high-security Green Zone, a senior official told AFP.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, T-walls — thick barriers about six meters tall and one meter wide — have surrounded potential targets of car bombs or other attacks.
When premier Adel Abdel Mahdi came to power last year, he promised to remove barriers, checkpoints and other security measures to make Baghdad easier to navigate.
“Over the last six months, we removed 18,000 T-walls in Baghdad, including 14,000 in the Green Zone alone,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bayati, the PM’s top military adviser.
Hundreds of the security checkpoints that contributed to Baghdad’s notorious traffic jams have also been removed.
And according to the Baghdad municipality, 600 streets that had been closed off to public access have been opened in the last six months.
Among them are key routes crossing through Baghdad’s Green Zone, the enclave where government buildings, UN agencies and embassies including the US and UK missions are based.
It was long inaccessible to most Iraqis until an order from Abdel Mahdi last year, and families can now be seen picking their way across its manicured parks for sunset pictures.
Iraq is living a rare period of calm after consecutive decades of violence, which for Baghdad peaked during the sectarian battles from 2006 to 2008.
It was followed, in 2014, by Daesh’s sweep across a third of the country and a three-year battle to oust the militants from their urban strongholds.
The group still wages hit-and-run attacks against Iraqi security forces and government targets, and Baghdad’s authorities are on high alert.
Thousands of the removed T-walls have been placed on Baghdad’s outskirts to prevent infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells, according to Bayati.