Saudi Arabia vows to confront Houthi terrorist threat with ‘unwavering resolve’

A Saudi Royal Air Force jet takes off at an airbase in the south of the Kingdom in this March 25, 2019 photo. (SPA file)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia vows to confront Houthi terrorist threat with ‘unwavering resolve’

  • Pledge comes after missile strike on civilian Abha Airport in which 26 people were injured
  • Deputy Defense Minister: ‘Appropriate measures will be taken to confront and deter these terrorist militias’

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday vowed to take “appropriate” action to confront and deter attacks by Houthi militias in Yemen.

It came a day after 26 people, including women and children, were injured in a missile strike on the civilian Abha Airport in the south of the Kingdom, for which the Houthis claimed responsibility.

“We will confront the Houthi militias’ crimes with unwavering resolve,” said Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman. “Their targeting of a civilian airport exposes to the world the recklessness of Iran’s escalation and the danger it poses to regional security and stability.

“The targeting of Abha Airport by Iranian-backed Houthi militias, injuring innocent civilians of various nationalities, is a continuation of their immoral and criminal behavior that is in line with the malign behavior of their patrons. I pray for a quick recovery for the wounded.”

The Houthi militias fired 226 ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia between March 26, 2015 and June 10, 2019.

“Appropriate measures will be taken to confront and deter these terrorist militias,” said Prince Khalid. “We will stand against all those that aim to inflict harm on our security and interests, and we will continue to adhere to all international laws and norms to protect regional security and stability.

“For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction by sponsoring and financing terrorist organizations, including the Houthis. The Iranian regime is the only party in the region that has been pursuing reckless escalation, through the use of ballistic missiles and UAVS (unmanned aerial vehicles) to directly target civilian installations and innocent civilians.

“The continuation of the Iranian regime’s aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will result in grave consequences. The international community must carry out its responsibility to avoid this outcome,” the minister added.

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authorities said operations and air traffic at Abha Airport had returned to normal by Thursday morning. Thousands of passengers pass through the airport each day.

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The missile strike was condemned by nations and officials around the world, with the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia denouncing it in the strongest terms as an attack that “targeted innocent civilians.”

The UAE said it was proof of attempts by the Houthis to “undermine regional security.” Bahrain said it “strongly condemned” the attack, describing it as a “terrorist and cowardly criminal act against innocent civilians.”

The day before the attack, a spokesman for the Houthi military warned that the group planned to target every airport in Saudi Arabia, and that the coming days would reveal “big surprises.”

A Houthi claim that it struck the airport with a sophisticated cruise missile was dismissed as “misinformation spread by Houthi media and Iranian social media,” by security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC.

“The interception rate by Saudi PAC-3 air defense is extremely high,” he added. “But Iranian-supplied and supported Houthi drones are another matter; they deliver an explosive charge either on the target or above, raining down debris.”

The Houthis last month stepped up attacks following a lull last year ahead of UN-led peace efforts. The coalition has responded by carrying out air strikes on Houthi-held Sanaa.


South Korea, Saudi ties ‘at a turning point’

South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook believes Saudi Arabia and his country will benefit from joint opportunities resulting from a growing partnership. (AN photo by Yazeed Al-Samran)
Updated 7 min 26 sec ago
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South Korea, Saudi ties ‘at a turning point’

  • ‘Made with Saudi’ strategy is part of major joint initiative, Korean ambassador tells Arab News

RIYADH: The ties of friendship and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and South Korea have expanded to unprecedented levels during King Salman’s reign, South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook told Arab News.
“In particular, after the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, economic and social reforms driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have provided new opportunities for expanding the bilateral cooperation,” Jo said.
With shared interests and cooperation between the two countries around Vision 2030, the South Korean government has closely consulted with the Kingdom to help realize the wide-ranging reform program, the envoy said.
“The Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 Committee, launched in October 2017, will be the umbrella under which the joint efforts of our two countries will produce more fruitful outcomes,” he said.
The committee serves as an institutional platform to review projects and explore partnership opportunities under Vision 2030. The second Saudi-Korean committee meeting was held in Seoul in April, and the two countries have agreed to carry out 43 projects across five major sectors.
However, it is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to South Korea June 26-27 that is most eagerly awaited.
It will be the highest-level visit from Saudi Arabia to South Korea since the then-Crown Prince Abdullah led a delegation to Seoul in 1998.
Jo described the forthcoming visit “as one of the most notable and historic events, which shows an even closer friendship and bilateral relations.”
The visit will serve as “a turning point for further strides in bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The crown prince will take part in the first official bilateral summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“The summit is expected to establish future-oriented and mutually beneficial bilateral relations on a basis of the longstanding friendship and partnership between the two countries nurtured for more than half a century,” the South Korean envoy said.
Both countries stand to benefit from the joint opportunities resulting from a growing partnership, Jo said.
“Saudi Arabia has allocated a large amount of resources in order to transform the country into a leading industrial powerhouse and reduce excessive oil-dependency in its economy. This strategy will provide a unique environment for South Korean companies to work with their Saudi counterparts,” he said.
“Until now, Korean companies have focused on exporting ‘Made in Korea’ products, such as cars, electronics and machinery, to the Kingdom. However, the time has come for Korean companies to move beyond simple trade transactions and pursue a ‘Made with Saudi’ strategy.
“Korean companies can work together with Saudi companies in areas such as idea development, design, engineering, manufacturing and even maintenance. In this process, strengths that both countries possess — technology and expertise from Korea, and finance and plentiful young labor from Saudi Arabia, for instance — will create synergies for greater achievements,” the envoy said.

FASTFACT

• Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to visit South Korea June 26-27.

• The crown prince will take part in the first official bilateral summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

• Recently launched collaborations between the two countries include the International Maritime Industries Co., Saudi Aramco joint venture with Hyundai Heavy Industries to build the Gulf’s biggest shipyard in Ras Al-Khair.

• The two countries have also designed a SMART reactor, which is an integral-type small reactor originally developed and designed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute especially for small or remote cities.

• The crown prince’s visit is likely to facilitate over 43 projects under VIsion 2030.

Recently launched collaborations between South Korea and the Kingdom include the International Maritime Industries (IMI) Co., Saudi Aramco joint venture with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to build the Gulf’s biggest shipyard in Ras Al-Khair.
HHI, the world’s third-largest shipbuilding company, will be responsible for design and engineering work at the shipyard. When complete, the SR19.5 billion ($5.2 billion) project will be the centerpiece of the Saudi shipbuilding industry, creating up to 80,000 jobs for the local workforce.
In addition, HHI and Saudi Aramco have been developing another joint project at Ras Al-Khair to produce up to 200 ship engines a year.
Cooperation in the nuclear sector is another “exemplary instance” of strengthening ties between the two countries, Jo said.
“In accordance with the memorandum of understanding signed between the Korean government and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in 2015, the two countries have further designed the SMART reactor, which is an integral-type small reactor originally developed and designed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute especially for small or remote cities,” he said.
“This collaboration also includes human capacity-building projects with the participation of Saudi nuclear engineers and experts. Through this joint process, I expect that Korea will be able to share with Saudi Arabia its experience and lessons learned that have been accumulated from designing, building and operating nuclear reactors over a long period of time.”
In addition to the SMART reactor, a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is bidding for a project to build the Kingdom’s first two large-size nuclear power plants.
KEPCO, which oversaw construction of the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE, is the world’s only contractor with experience of building a nuclear reactor in a desert environment.
“Korea has a proven track record of operating multiple nuclear reactors both safely and economically, and has earned a reputation for building world-class nuclear reactors on time and within budget,” Jo said. “I am confident that Korea will be an optimal partner for Saudi Arabia as it seeks to develop its own nuclear energy industry.”
Jo said: “The two countries have been developing other joint projects which will be new symbols of the close and strong partnership in the future. The crown prince’s visit to Korea will facilitate and accelerate the realization of 43 and possibly even more projects under Vision 2030.”