Planned ‘North Thunder’ a clear message to Tehran

Updated 10 February 2016
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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.


‘I’ve been waiting to get to Saudi Arabia for years’: Akon tells Asharqiah crowd

Updated 23 March 2019
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‘I’ve been waiting to get to Saudi Arabia for years’: Akon tells Asharqiah crowd

  • “First thing tomorrow morning, I’m headed to Makkah to perform Umrah” Akon said 
  • He entertained the crowd with some of his most popular hits at the Asharqiah Music Festival

DAMMAM: American rapper Akon captivated a packed crowd at the Asharqiah Music Festival on Friday, opening up the second night of musical festivities at Sharqiah Season with a special shout-out to Saudi Arabia.

“You have no idea, I’ve been waiting to get to Saudi for years, man,” Akon said, before launching into his song, “Gunshot.” Later, he told the crowd: “I’m seeing a tremendous change in Saudi Arabia here tonight."

At 8 p.m., under a bright moon on a beautifully cool night, Akon began his set, delighting fans who had spent over 10 minutes chanting his name in anticipation of his arrival.

He entertained the crowd with some of his most popular hits, including “Smack That,” “Mr. Lonely” and “Sorry: Blame It On Me.” And he wrapped things up with “I love you, Saudi... thank you for making me feel at home."

Backstage before the concert, Akon told Arab News how excited he was to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time. He was especially excited to visit one Saudi city in particular.

“First thing tomorrow morning, I’m headed to Makkah to perform Umrah.”