Saudi Arabia’s Al-Jubeir: ‘We don’t want war but we will defend ourselves’

In a news conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region. (SPA/File Photo)
Updated 19 May 2019

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Jubeir: ‘We don’t want war but we will defend ourselves’

  • "Our security and religion are a red line," Al-Jubeir said
  • Al-Jubeir said Iranian regime can spare the region the dangers of war by adhering to international laws

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is doing its best to avoid war in the region but stands ready to respond with "all strength and determination" to defend itself from any threat, the Kingdom's top diplomat said on Sunday.

In a news conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region. He urged the international community to take responsibility to stop the Islamic republic from doing so.

"Our security and religion are a red line," Al-Jubeir said. His statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and installations within the Kingdom.

Iran’s foreign minister was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency on Saturday as saying his country is “not seeking war” even as the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Tehran was in a “full-fledged intelligence war with the US.“

The US has ordered bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Arabian Gulf over an unexplained threat they perceive from Iran, raising tensions a year after Trump pulled America out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Al-Jubeir said the ranian regime can spare the region the dangers of war by adhering to international laws and covenants, by stopping its interference in the internal affairs of other countries of the region, by stopping its support for terrorist groups and militias, and immediately halting its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

"Saudi Arabia stresses that its hand is always extended to peace and seeks to achieve it, and believes that the peoples of the region, including the Iranian people, have the right to live in security and stability and to move towards development," he said.

"We want peace and stability and we want to focus on the Kingdom's Vision 2030 which will enrich Saudi people’s lives," he added.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have repeatedly accused Iran of bankrolling the activities of its proxy Shiite militias such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and various groups in Iraq.

Houthi militias had repeatedly launched ballistic missiles and rockets into civilian targets in Saudi Arabia since a Saudi-led Arab Coalition threw its support behind the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the Iran-backed power-grabbers. Last week, they owned responsibility for the drone attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jubeir also urged Qatar, an estranged member of the GCC to stop supporting extremists and terrorists and return to the fold. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017, charging Doha of siding with terror groups that have been destabilizing the region. 

Instead of making amends with its GCC brothers, Qatar sought help from Turkey and Iran in a bid to alleviate the impact of the boycott action of the group known as the anti-terror quarter (ATQ).


Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

Updated 57 min 23 sec ago

Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

  • The Arabic word “jamarat" was inaccurately translated to “anthrax",  a dangerous infectious disease
  • Citing possible repercussions of the mistranslation, scholars want a probe to pinpoint responsibility

RIYADH: The Hajj and Umrah Ministry is investigating the inaccurate translation of the word “jamarat” into “anthrax,” which led to Sheikh Yusuf Estes making a video warning pilgrims of the mistake and its possible repercussions.

The translation concerned a bag that was a gift to pilgrims, containing small pebbles to use for the “stoning of the devil” upon their return from Muzdalifah. The bag had the correct original Arabic description, which roughly translates as “jamarat pebble bag,” whereas the English version of “jamarat” was translated into “anthrax,” a dangerous infectious disease.

According to SPA, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah was notified and opened an investigation with the contractor and translator on August 10, before handing them to authorities to take the necessary disciplinary action.

“Anthrax, where did they get that? They get it from Google, it’s not Google’s fault. Google allows people to tell the meaning of the different languages of words,” Sheikh Yusuf said in the video.

Google Translate, the free multilingual machine translator, relies on comparing large quantities of content between pairs of languages to establish patterns and, in most cases, determine the probability that certain words in one language will correspond with a set of words in another. 

Putting Google Translate to the test, Arab News used the platform to translate a name of a type of fish known in the region as “sha’oor” from Arabic to English. The scientific term for the fish is Lethrinus nebulosus, a type of emperor fish most commonly known as the green snapper or sand snapper.  

Google Translate’s translation was “thickness of feeling.”

Though it yields imperfect results, the service can be used at a pinch, though real human translators rather than artificial intelligence are far more likely to lead to more accurate translations.  

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Gisele Riachy, director of the Center for Languages and Translation at the Lebanese University in Beirut, explained how the mistranslation of “jamarat” could have happened.

“We have two possibilities, it was either translated by Google Translate or the translator was provided with a single sentence and therefore didn’t understand the meaning of “jamarat,” she said.

“The translator may have not taken into consideration the general context of the word, which has certain religious connotations, therefore it should have been borrowed, translated by the “Stoning of the Devil” or even left as it is.”

Dr. Riachy said that the word anthrax cannot be translated without an accompanying adjective for a better explanation of the term.

“What surprised me is that when translating the word “jamarat” from Arabic to English, the word should have been accompanied with the adjective “khabitha,” or malignant in Arabic, for it to be translated to “anthrax” in English. That is why I am confused and I do not think Google Translate would have translated it into “anthrax” if the Arabic version didn’t include the word “khabitha.”

Sheikh Yusuf Estes’ video was intended for those who would like to take the small bags home as a souvenir or gift, sending a message that the mistranslation could cause the traveler trouble with customs in their own countries.