Editorial: Crown prince sets the record straight on terror

Updated 10 October 2016
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Editorial: Crown prince sets the record straight on terror

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif has had a forceful impact at the United Nations in New York. In two addressees to the General Assembly he urged greater generosity toward refugees and increased cooperation in the face of international terrorism.
Besides his two important public statements, the crown prince held an intense round of meetings with world leaders. These included discussions with US President Barack Obama and President Francois Hollande of France.
The UN’s summit for refugees and migrants, which the crown prince first spoke at, could not have come at a better time. The UN Refugee Agency has produced a deeply disturbing report. It shows that the world has never seen such a high level of refugees. Every single day, some 34,000 people are forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution. Around the world, 65.3 million people have been on the move. Conflict and oppression account for 21.3 million refugees driven from their homes. More than half of these unfortunates are under the age of 18. Their chances in life are much diminished by a lack of access to schools. In Syria the fighting has left no less than 2.1 million children and adolescents without access to any education.
The crown prince told UN members that the Kingdom had given refuge to 2.5 million Syrians. Some 140,000 Syrian children were being educated in the country’s schools and universities. He stressed that Syrian families were not treated as unwelcome refugees. They were given residence permits and were greeted as guests.
Nor has Saudi Arabia’s helping hand ended there. The government recognizes the challenges of the sprawling refugee camps established by countries neighboring Syria. It has already given $800 million to help support these camps. On top of this, Saudis and expatriates have contributed very generously to two separate countrywide appeals for Syrian refugees. Saudi charities are also active in the camps. One of their most important jobs has been in counseling Syrians, particularly children, traumatized by the horrors they have seen.
The Kingdom has been equally concerned by the refugee crisis in Yemen caused by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebellion. Operation Decisive Storm to restore the Yemeni government is crushing the rebels. But at the same time more than half a billion dollars have already been provided in humanitarian assistance. A generous welcome has been given to Yemeni refugees in Saudi Arabia itself. More than 285,000 Yemeni students are being given free education. And Yemeni refugees elsewhere have not been forgotten. Aid worth $42 million has been provided to Yemenis who have fled to Djibouti and Somalia.
In recent years the global scale of the refugee tragedy has increased steadily. The UN has often struggled to draw in crisis funds. Governments still facing domestic austerity were reluctant to find spare cash. In the face of recessionary forces, the Kingdom has rejected austerity. The launch of Vision 2030 is the ambitious alternative route it has chosen to follow. And the decision to invest for economic growth is mirrored in help to the outside world. The crown prince pointed out to UN members that Saudi Arabia was the world’s third largest donor in terms of emergency relief and humanitarian and development aid. In the last four decades it has provided an extraordinary $139 billion in international assistance.
When he spoke to the General Assembly for a second time, the crown prince addressed the issue of terrorism. He said that long before 9/11 the Kingdom had itself been the victim of a terror campaign. It had confronted 100 terror operations including 18 terrorist attacks. It had been among the first to condemn the 2001 attacks on America. It was therefore, he said, “puzzling” that Congress had pursued a bill, which would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Kingdom on the basis that the majority of the attackers had been Saudis.
And it is indeed perplexing. With the Americans and Italians, Saudi Arabia heads an increasingly effective coalition to cut terrorist funding. It is sharing the security expertise it has gained so painfully in combating terrorists within the Kingdom. It has pioneered and financed UN-based coordination of the fight against international terrorism.
It has long been clear that its enemies are intent on trying to link Saudis with terror. This is to stand the truth on its head. The chief accuser is Iran. Its motives are obvious. It seeks to undermine the Kingdom’s key regional leadership. And the hypocrisy is stunning. Iran, not Saudi Arabia, is a sponsor of terrorism. Its bloody work can be seen in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.


Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019
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Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.