Kingdom, US agree: Assad should have no role

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Updated 08 November 2013

Kingdom, US agree: Assad should have no role

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry held wide-ranging talks on Monday that focused on key bilateral and regional issues, with special reference to Syria, Iran and the Middle East peace process.
Concerns over continuing Israeli settlement expansion, a flawed American foreign policy and an urgent need to restore peace and security in the Middle East region were also raised in talks.
King Abdullah discussed issues that have divided opinion among senior US and Saudi officials. The talks were attended by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense; Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, second deputy premier; and Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, and high-ranking Saudi and US officials.
Addressing a joint press conference with Kerry after talks with the king, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom and the US are “friendly countries” with a relationship based on “sincerity, candor and frankness”. Saudi Arabia, he said, is an important diplomatic and trading partner for the US.
Both leaders agreed that there should be “no role” for Syrian President Bashar Assad in any transitional period.
Prince Saud demanded Iran leave Syria, saying that Tehran was helping President Bashar Assad to strike and kill his own people. He said the proposed talks to end Syria’s civil war could not happen without the participation of an opposition coalition leading the struggle to oust Assad.
“Assad has lost all legitimacy, and he must go,” said Kerry.
Prince Saud expressed deep frustration with the UN, where the Kingdom recently rejected a seat on the Security Council because of its inability to achieve progress on Syria, Palestine and other issues.
He said: “The Kingdom’s refusal of a UN Security Council seat is in no way a move to withdraw from the UN.” He criticized the UN and other international organizations, which have failed “to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.”
Kerry acknowledged that the region is rocked by the turmoil of the Arab Spring, which is reshaping the geopolitical landscape.
Kerry said Saudi-US ties are “strategic” and “enduring”. There were “no differences” between them on Syria, Kerry said. He praised the Kingdom as “the senior player in the Arab world.” Washington and Riyadh shared many current concerns, he said, highlighting the difficult transition in Egypt, the war in Syria and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
He also assured that Iran “will not acquire a nuclear weapon” and that America will not abandon its allies.
On the question of security, he said: “We will be there for Saudi Arabia, for the Emiratis, for Qataris, for the Jordanians, for the Egyptians and others.”
He reiterated that the US will not allow those countries to be attacked from outside.
Kerry was in Saudi Arabia on the second phase of a 10-day tour through the Middle East, Europe and North Africa.


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”