Saudi Arabia to host meeting of Islamic scholars on Afghan war

Men carry the coffin of a relative who died in a deadly suicide attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 22, 2018. Taliban attacks in western Afghanistan killed 14 soldiers and policemen on Monday as residents in the capital prepared for the funerals of those killed in the horrific bombing by the Daesh group on a voter registration center that left at least 57 dead the previous day. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Updated 29 April 2018

Saudi Arabia to host meeting of Islamic scholars on Afghan war

  • More bloodbath is expected as the Taliban has launched its annual "Spring Offensive" despite peace overtures by the government
  • Afghan official says the meeting in Jeddah will have high impact since in the past Pakistani ulema have repeatedly termed the war in Afghanistan as jihad and a righteous act

KABUL:  A meeting of Islamic scholars from across the world will be held in Jeddah in July to discuss the religious justification of the Taliban war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) officials said on Saturday.

Akram Khpolwak, HPC’s secretariat chief, is in Saudi Arabia and has held meetings with authorities and members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation about the moot, Sayed Ehsanullah Tahiri, HPC spokesman, told Arab News.

The first of its kind, the moot will examine the latest round of the spiraling Afghan war, which began with the ousting of the Taliban in 2001. It is being held at the request of the HPC, which has struggled for years to bring Taliban militants to the dialogue table, the HPC official said.

It follows the offer of President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional peace package in February, which has earned regional and international support.

The Taliban have neither rejected nor accepted the overture, but the launch of the group’s annual offensive this week was seen as a rejection of the offer by some analysts.

Asked if Afghanistan would accept a decision by the meeting that sought the expulsion of foreign troops, Tahiri said that the Taliban could put a timetable for troop withdrawal on the table when the group accepts Ghani’s unconditional peace talks offer.

“The meeting in Jeddah will have high impact since in the past Pakistani ulema have repeatedly termed the war here as jihad and a righteous act,” he said, adding that the upcoming moot will decide that the Afghan war has no legality.

“We need a religious verdict on this war and the holy religion of Islam emphatically orders all that there has to be talks, negotiations, between adversaries at all times.”

He said that despite the launch of the spring offensive by the Taliban, sources from within the group suggested that its leadership was deliberating on Ghani’s overture and expressed the hope that an Afghan-led peace process would begin later this year.

“All scholars from the Muslim countries should attend the meeting and assess the Afghan war and bloodshed from a religious point of view,” Tahiri said.

Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a lawmaker who is a leading opponent of foreign troops in Afghanistan, described the meeting as a great initiative by Saudi Arabia.

“We hope that the ulema come up with a just decision,” Khawasi said.

“We have some ulema who exploit facts. We hope that this meeting debates and decides about the overall conflict that is going on in different parts of the Islamic world,” he told Arab News.

Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Updated 14 August 2020

Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Fahad Al-Azzam has been the assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Ministry of Health since September 2019.
He has also been the general manager for enterprise at the ministry’s project management office since July 2016, where he developed and implemented a standard set of project management processes and models, and built the framework and updated it to account for developments and best practices.
It was announced on Monday that Al-Azzam’s role as assistant deputy minister for empowerment has been extended for another year.
Al-Azzam obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, in 2007. He studied abroad in the US, obtaining a master’s degree in engineering and technology management from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 2014.
Prior to his current position, Al-Azzam worked as a cooperative trainee at the Saudi Electricity Co. between May and October 2006.
At the Advanced Electronics Co., he worked as an assistant field service engineer between July 2007 and May 2009, and technical support and field service engineer between May 2009 and December 2010.
At the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, he worked as senior electrical engineer at their radiation safety department between January 2011 and February 2015.
He developed a safety program for exporting and importing electronics devices to and from Saudi Arabia and worked at controlling the risk resulting from the use of radiation-emitting devices. He also worked there as a project manager at their project management office between February 2015 and July 2016.