Planned ‘North Thunder’ a clear message to Tehran

Updated 10 February 2016

Planned ‘North Thunder’ a clear message to Tehran

JEDDAH: The planned “North Thunder” military exercise is a clear message to Iran and the countries in the region it supports that any hostile intentions and actions will be firmly dealt with, an expert has said.
The military drill is scheduled to be held in the northern region of Saudi Arabia in the next few days and a number of countries will be participating in it, local media reported on Tuesday.
Military experts have warned that the next probable threat to the Gulf states is likely to come from the northern areas, after Iran demographically occupies Iraq and uses that country as its military arm to meddle in the affairs of neighboring countries and drain Gulf states’ resources.
Col. Ibrahim Al-Marie, military and strategic analyst, said the three main goals of the exercise are to protect the joint security of the Gulf, Arab and Islamic states, increase combat readiness and coordinate joint operations between participating forces.
“Participating countries are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, the UAE, and some Gulf states, through maritime, air and land efforts,” he said. “This maneuver is considered the most important in the past five decades conducted by Gulf, Arab and Islamic countries. It will rely on the latest technology in light of the growing regional terrorism and turbulent environment, and after the success of Decisive Storm.”
Al-Marie said the exercise provides a chance to improve and activate the Islamic military alliance announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, for joint participation of Gulf, Arab and Islamic countries in a number of these exercises.
He denied any link between North Thunder and the recent announcement by the Kingdom regarding ground military intervention in Syria, noting that these exercises were announced previously and are part of a defensive, not offensive, approach.
Al-Marie revealed that Iran seeks control in Iraq for extremist Shiites who are loyal to Tehran, and not Baghdad. “We know that Iran has been trying to widen its footprint in Iraq through a so-called demographic occupation and emptying Iraq of Sunnis, either by displacing them or wiping them out, as well as by emptying the country of moderate Shiites loyal to Iraq,” he said.

“This demographic occupation is currently happening in Iraq and Syria through the use of the Fatamid brigades, who are Shiites from Afghanistan and who have been promised Syrian, Iranian or Iraqi nationality if they achieve victory for Iran in Syria,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, Russia ‘aim to build bridges through culture’

Russia is looking to bolster cultural ties with Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 3 min 46 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Russia ‘aim to build bridges through culture’

  • Culture not only supports economic growth, but also builds bridges between nations: Dmitriev

RIYADH: Russia seeks to extend its close economic ties with Saudi Arabia into the world of arts and culture, a leading Russian businessman writes today in Arab News.

The arts are “a source for new jobs and sustained economic growth, and private companies realize this trend is an opportunity,” says Kirill Dmitriev.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that identified this trend early. Cultural development is an important part of the Vision 2030 program led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” he writes.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of which Dmitriev is chief executive, “believes that culture not only supports economic growth, but also builds bridges between nations, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust.” 

As an example, five paintings by the Russian avant-garde artists Wassily Kandinsky and Pavel Filonov are being exhibited at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. Such cultural ties “will contribute to the long-term relationship.” Dmitriev writes.