Saudi Arabia ready to send troops to Syria

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Photo showing Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 17, 2018. (AN Photo: Bashir Saleh)
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Photo showing Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir at joint press conference with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 17, 2018. (AN Photo: Bashir Saleh)
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Photo showing United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a joint press conference with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 17, 2018. (AN Photo: Bashir Saleh)
Updated 18 April 2018

Saudi Arabia ready to send troops to Syria

  • Saudi Arabia is in talks with the Trump administration about sending forces to Syria
  • Iran backed Houthi militia violated international law by attacking Bab Al-Mandab maritime traffic

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is ready, willing and able to deploy troops in support of any US-led effort to stabilize Syria, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir reaffirmed on Tuesday.

“We are in discussions with the US, and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, about sending forces into Syria,” Al-Jubeir said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that US President Donald Trump’s administration was seeking to assemble an Arab force, including troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to help restore stability in Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s offer of help was “not new,” Al-Jubeir said at a press conference in Riyadh with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. “We made a proposal to the Obama administration that if the US were to send forces ... then Saudi Arabia would consider along with other countries sending forces as part of this contingent.”

Riyadh has suggested that it could help counter-terrorism operations in some other theaters of conflict as part of a wider Muslim alliance. For example, a Saudi-backed Islamic military coalition will provide logistical, intelligence and training to a new West African counter-terrorism force, Al-Jubeir said in December.

Guterres told Arab News there was no military solution to the Syrian conflict. “It is crucial that Syrians find a solution, free of foreign domination,” he said.

On the issue of Palestine, Guterres said there should be a strong mutual commitment to a two-state solution. “There is no Plan B. We need to make sure that Palestinians have that right as well as the Israelis, and the two must live in stability.” 

Commenting on the Yemen situation, Al-Jubeir said: “A political solution in Yemen is up to Houthis who have turned Yemen into a base for Iran. This is not a war desired by the Kingdom, but it was imposed on it. The only solution in Yemen is a political one. The reason for not reaching a resolution is the stubbornness of the Houthis because of Iran’s support.

“The Houthis have launched 119 Iranian missiles toward Saudi Arabia. The Houthis are using young children on their missions, laying siege to villages and not allowing aid to come in. They sell this aid to finance their war. Everything they are doing is terrorism.”

Meanwhile international investigators finally entered the Damascus suburb of Douma on Tuesday after days of delay and warnings by Western powers that crucial evidence related to a chemical gas attack had probably been removed.

More than 40 people died in the attack on April 7, and Western powers have blamed the Assad regime. In response, the US, France and Britain launched missile strikes on Saturday targeting the regime’s chemical weapons facilities.

The regime “would try its best to destroy any evidence that might show its involvement in the attack,” Yahya Al-Aridi, spokesman for the Syrian opposition, told Arab News.

“Immediately after the attack, we saw on television Russian soldiers and officers visiting the site. I don’t think the Russians would be happy if any evidence were found, especially when they called it fabrication in the UN Security Council. So they have a fundamental interest in destroying any sort of evidence.”

Missile strikes against the sources of the chemical weapons were not enough, he said. “Syrians are being killed not only by chemical weapons. They are being killed by phosphoric bombs, by rockets and airstrikes, and by displacement.”

The world seemed reluctant to call the regime a pariah and an outlaw, and finish the job, Al-Aridi said. “They are also denying the Syrian people any means to defend themselves.”

Restoration work underway to repair damaged Saudi palace

Updated 4 min 30 sec ago

Restoration work underway to repair damaged Saudi palace

RIYADH: Restoration work has got underway to repair a collapsed section of wall at the historic Sahoud Palace in Al-Ahsa.
An inspection of the site to assess the extent of the damage was carried out by a specialized technical team, sent by the Saudi Heritage Authority, prior to reconstruction work commencing.
Sahoud Palace, which dates back to the seventh century, is among a host of Saudi heritage sites being placed under the supervision of the authority.
Surrounded by a high wall with seven conical watchtowers, the palace houses a well, mosque, stables, basement, a number of rooms, and an open square and was named in reference to a large cannon once positioned there. The authority was established to preserve, protect, and promote the Kingdom’s cultural heritage.