Le Drian: KSA, France have unified position on Syria

Updated 08 November 2013

Le Drian: KSA, France have unified position on Syria

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated Monday that Riyadh and Paris share a common stance on Syria.
Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Royal Terminal in Jeddah on Monday, he said: “The shared French-Saudi approach is to strengthen and empower the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and Gen. Salim Idris of the Free Syrian Army.”
Le Drian conveyed a message from President Francois Hollande to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah during his meeting with him.
France has emerged as a strong ally of Gulf countries in an altered geopolitical scenario. The exceptionally warm reception that Le Drian received in Jeddah was indicative of the special relationship between the two countries.
“I am overwhelmed by the warm response from the Saudi leadership,” he said. “This goes to prove the depth of our strategic relationship.”
The minister said France was providing political, military and humanitarian support to the SNC and Gen. Salim Idris. “Our support and approach was commended by the Saudi leadership and the Saudi people,” said Le Drian.
The minister said: “There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and everyone recognizes this fact, so parties will have to come to the negotiating table.”
He said that the chances of Geneva II succeeding seem bright. “We want to see the constitution of a transitional government during the Geneva II conference,” said Le Drian.
He said the unwavering French support to the Syrian National Coalition, including military hardware, is aimed at strengthening the SNC’s position at the bargaining table in Geneva. “The stronger it is, the better it will be during negotiations for a transitional government.”
He said efforts were being made to isolate extremist elements and armed militant groups in Syria. “The presence of armed extremists have complicated the situation and have actually benefited (Bashar) Assad,” he said.
Le Drian was blunt on the issue of Iran. “We have seen and heard the speech of (Iranian President) Hassan Rowhani. While all those words are nice to hear, everything will depend on what actions the Iranian leadership will take to de-escalate tension in the region,” he said. “Words, however conciliatory, mean nothing unless and until they are converted into actual deeds.”
The minister held wide-ranging talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan during his daylong visit.
He said the Middle East peace process came under discussion during his talks with Crown Prince Salman. “We have to see to it that the peace process materializes,” he said.
Earlier, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al-Hazzab, commander of the west zone, received Le Drian at King Abdul Aziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal.
French Ambassador Bertrand Besancenot was also present at the press conference.
Le Drian has been a frequent visitor to the region and has visited several countries in the Gulf.
France has a military base in the UAE, with about 500 personnel supporting naval, ground and air assets.


US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 10 July 2020

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 


The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

 

 

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.


The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 

The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.


“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.