King Salman’s Eid message

Updated 08 July 2016

King Salman’s Eid message

Muslims around the world will have struggled to understand the enormity of Monday’s suicide bombings in Jeddah, Qatif and Madinah. The crime outside the Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque was particularly shocking. The building was packed with thousands of worshippers there for the sunset prayer. Had the bomber made it into the mosque, the carnage would have been appalling.
If there were ever any doubt about it, it is now clear there is absolutely no red line for the fanatics of Daesh. For them, there is no crime too evil.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s Eid Al-Fitr message would normally have dwelt on the happy fulfillment of the holy month of Ramadan. This Eid, he also had to address the terrorist horrors.
But what King Salman said about these was also a message of the strongest hope. He promised that extremists will be hit with an iron fist. It was the decisive response that all in the Kingdom fully expected. Terror cannot succeed here because Saudis will not be terrified. This was demonstrated when the 2003-2006 Al-Qaeda terror campaign was crushed. The iron will of the Saudi people will be shown again.
The authorities have already begun arresting suspects. The whole Kingdom is now on the highest alert. It was this vigilance that defeated the Al-Qaeda campaign. And it is this watchfulness that is already checking the new terror campaign.
The clear proof is that in both Madinah and Jeddah, near the US Consulate, police intervention prevented major tragedies. Four security officers gave their lives in Madinah. They went to check a suspect vehicle. The suicide bomber blew up the car. In a similar act, a suicide bomber detonated his device in Jeddah, as he was being approached by police. The hard lessons of the difficult campaign against Al-Qaeda fanatics have been learned well.
The Kingdom is not an easy battleground for the terrorists. They are confronted by a full array of counterterrorism measures. Communication has become extremely difficult. State-of-the-art monitoring equipment can detect suspicious messaging. It can pinpoint suspects and follow their movements. Cell members may use runners to keep in touch. But these messengers themselves can literally lead the authorities to a terrorist lair. It was this which allowed the Americans to find Osama Bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout.
Intelligence sources say the networks in Saudi are fragmented. Vigilance along the Iraqi border has made the movement of men, weapons and explosives extremely difficult.
These fanatics are hunted men and they know it. There are few safe havens for them. The country as a whole is looking for them. It only takes one mistake. It only takes one SIM card left too long in a phone. It only takes one unknown vehicle parked too prominently or unusual behavior in a property for the authorities to know. And it is not axiomatic that the security forces will act immediately. Much is to be gained by watching the terrorists and learning more about their contacts and networks. The killers can never be sure that they are not already being monitored closely.
This week they did managed to coordinate their violence. But they did not actually manage to reach their soft targets. The devastation they planned did not happen. The death and wounding of brave and conscientious law officers is a tragedy. But these courageous men did their duty. They actually inflicted a defeat on the fanatics.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, played a leading role in the smashing of Al-Qaeda. On Tuesday he visited two injured policemen and a citizen in a Jeddah hospital. They were wounded in the blast near the American Consulate.
The crown prince, who survived a 2009 bomb attack in his office, empathized with these victims. He said he understood how they felt. He also said that defeating terror was not a simple matter. But security in the Kingdom was at its highest level. It was being strengthened every day.
It is important to understand the truth of his words. Around the world, governments hit by terrorism vow revenge. Sadly, these words are not always matched by deeds. It is very different here in Saudi Arabia. The terror monster has been confronted successfully. The Kingdom has acquired unrivaled experience dealing with terror. Western security officials look to Saudi Arabia as the leading exponent of counterterrorism. They know that the “iron fist” King Salman described has been forged in the white-hot heat of battle.

EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

Saudi drivers take a flooded street in Jeddah on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017

EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

It has happened again. The roads, streets and many underpasses in Jeddah were flooded with rainwater on Tuesday. Many areas were turned into lakes because of the heavy, though forecast, downpour. In some areas, water was knee-deep while in others it was chest-deep. People were stuck in their vehicles and many were seen pushing their vehicles to the side of the roads with great difficulty. In low-lying areas, citizens struggled to remove their belongings from flooded houses.

For the residents of Jeddah, rain has, more often than not, brought trouble and devastation. Whenever the skies open up, thoughts go back to that “Black Wednesday” of November 25, 2009, when more than 100 people lost their lives and property worth billions of riyals was destroyed. An investigation was opened into the disaster and some of the guilty were taken to court and tried; some of the small fry were even jailed. As has been the case in the past, the mighty arm of the law could barely touch those at the top who enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

And so it was business as usual until the rain began to wreak havoc again, reminding us that the laws of nature take their course and that hiding your head in the sand does not chase the clouds away.

Having said that, it must be admitted that, yes, lessons were learned. A disaster management team was set up. The weather forecast department became active in issuing alerts. In fact, Tuesday could have been far worse had it not been for the timely alert from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and a prompt decision by the Ministry of Education to suspend classes, schools and universities in and around Jeddah. That helped in keeping people and vehicles off the streets. At noon on Tuesday, it looked as if the city were under some kind of curfew.

The questions that are on everyone's minds right now are: Why is it that rain renders the city helpless and immobile at this time every year? Why have efforts to create effective rainwater drainage systems not borne fruit despite pumping billions of riyals into new projects such as dams and canals? Why is it that the authorities are found wanting whenever heavy rain occurs? More importantly, what is the solution?

Here is the answer. These floods are a stark reminder of why the current drive against corruption is so essential. It is required in order to instill the fear of law into high-ranking officials and heads of construction companies and civic bodies who have failed in their responsibilities. Those who have cut corners and have pocketed public money, those who have not delivered on the projects and who have provided substandard services must pay for their sins of omission.

This is exactly what is happening. No one is above the law. The guilty, whoever they are, however high up they are, will have to pay — and they are. In this new era of transparency and accountability — initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — word has gone down from top to bottom that no one is immune. If you are guilty you will be punished. Those responsible for the havoc of the floods on Tuesday will have no rest either.