Trump vows to remain steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia

We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, said the US president. (Jim Watson/AFP)
Updated 21 November 2018

Trump vows to remain steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia

  • The Kingdom is a great ally in our fight against Iran and terrorism, said US president.
  • Saudis have worked closely with us to keep oil prices at reasonable levels, he added.

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the United States intends to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia.

In a statement issued by the White House, he said he would not cancel multibillion-dollar military deals with Riyadh, adding: “If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries.”

Trump said US intelligence agencies are still studying the evidence in an attempt to discover how Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and who planned it.

“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” the president said. “Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and the disposal of his body.

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world.”

Describing the world as “a very dangerous place,” Trump condemned Iran for its malign activity in the region.

“Iran...is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more,” he said. “Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’ Iran is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror.’

“Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.”

Describing agreements reached during his trip to Saudi Arabia last year, Trump said: “The Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.

“Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great US defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries — and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States.”

Trump said that members of Congress were free to reach their own conclusions. He also said he could be meeting with the crown prince at the upcoming G-20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month.

“I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction — and they are free to do so,” he said. “I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.

“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keep oil prices at reasonable levels (which is) so important for the world. As president of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply, it is called ‘America First.’”


Russian museum CEO: Archaeology in Saudi Arabia is at its peak

Since the launch of the Vision 2030 reform plans, many steps have been taken to present Saudi Arabia’s ancient wonders such as Al-Gara Mountain in Al-Ahsa to the world. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 min 44 sec ago

Russian museum CEO: Archaeology in Saudi Arabia is at its peak

  • Undiscovered archaeological treasures key to cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Russia

MOSCOW: Archaeology in Saudi Arabia has seen an unprecedented number of discoveries and findings in recent years. With over 44 Saudi and international missions working in the Kingdom this year alone, Russia’s State Hermitage Museum director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, commended the country’s efforts in presenting its hidden treasures to the world.
Arab News met with the director in Moscow to discuss the future of archaeology in Saudi Arabia and his interest in hosting one of its most famous exhibits, “AlUla: Wonder of Arabia.”
Piotrovsky, the urbane general director of the State Hermitage Museum located in Saint Petersburg, was appointed in 1992 by decree of the prime minister at the time.
He has a long history with the museum.
He took up the position following his father, Boris Piotrovsky, who was director from 1964 until his death in 1990.
Piotrovsky’s work at the museum is inspired by both his passion for the arts and a deeply rooted adoration for archaeology.
A graduate of Leningrad University, he spent a year taking part in archaeological explorations in Yemen, the Caucuses and central Asia, with over 200 scholarly publications, including catalogues of Arabic manuscripts.
A fluent Arabic speaker, he dedicated many years of his career to the archaeology of the Arab world, the spiritual and political history of Islam and Arab culture as well as medieval works and ancient inscriptions.
He told Arab News how the school of archaeology is always developing, and in order to achieve success in any excursion, it is key that teams coordinate with others to learn from their experiences.
“It is a very international field. If it is not, it will become too narrow and nationalistic,” Piotrovsky said.
“Archaeological departments are the most open bodies in every country. Be it Russia, Egypt, Iraq or Saudi Arabia, they are accustomed to working with different points of view and people from other civilizations. Openness is important for achieving success.”
The director said that many archaeologists from the Kingdom have been invited by the museum to partake in expeditions alongside Russian archaeologists to gain experience and exchange knowledge.
“AlUla is one of the jewels of archaeology,” he said. “It is a rare site, the Nabataeans controlled the routes from south to north. The Romans, Indians, ancient Palmyrians and Bedouins have been there.” The director told Arab News that they have been working in joint teams not only in archaeological diggings but also with plans to develop what they call an “archaeological park.”

NUMBER

4.5m - people visited the State Hermitage Museum.

The Russian State Hermitage Museum tells the story of Russia, its palaces, Peter the Great and many more significant historical moments. The museum also exhibits artifacts of different civilizations: Islamic, Buddhist, Catholic and others.
The museum’s message and goal is for “different civilizations to speak to each other and to us and make a connection,” he exclaimed.
Piotrovsky believes the same concept can be developed for AlUla.
Speaking to Arab News last January, Dr. Abdullah Al-Zahrani, general director of archaeological research studies at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said that digs in Saudi Arabia are increasing at an unprecedented rate.
“Archaeology in the Kingdom is on the rise,” said the director.
“There is still a lot to be discovered and we are still in the period where you begin to dig and make a discovery, dig more and make another discovery. In the Arab world, everything is new and holds a base for the development of knowledge.”
Piotrovsky has been following the progress of archaeology in the Arab world for many years and he said that more archaeologists are going to Saudi Arabia now than at any point in the past 10 years.
Antiquities discovered in the Kingdom are known to come from one of the oldest areas of human settlements, with discoveries dating back 1.2 million years. In this past year alone, 15 new sites were discovered across the country.

FASTFACT

85,000-year-old discovery of a rare fossilized finger bone in the Nefud Desert is the oldest human fossil on record unearthed.

“It is a very important region which is still undiscovered properly. We all know the first man, according to our theories, was born in Africa and then we see its traces moving to Europe and Asia through the Arabian Peninsula,” said Piotrovsky.
“Ancient archaeology is very important but I think for this time period it should be the archaeology of the written period. Archaeology of the trade routes, coming from India and Africa, trade routes from Iraq and Palestine and Syria. There were fantastic kingdoms and sites.”
The museum’s keen interest in Saudi Arabia’s archaeological findings are a reflection of the director’s move to enhance cooperation between the countries.
It is planning on bringing the Kingdom’s first international exhibition dedicated to the human and natural heritage of AlUla titled “AlUla: Wonder of Arabia” to Saint Petersburg.
In 2011, the museum hosted the third leg of the “Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces through the Ages” exhibition after the successful exhibitions at the Louvre Museum in Paris and the La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona.
Aimed to introduce the historical and cultural importance of the Kingdom, the 450 relics were displayed for the first time outside of Saudi Arabia. They date back to a time between the Palaeolithic era and the pre-Islamic ages.
Since the launch of the Vision 2030 reform plans, many steps have been taken to present Saudi Arabia’s modern culture and ancient wonders to the world.
There is history lying beneath the Kingdom’s vast sand dunes, and a dig will not suffice, there is more to be done for the world to connect with the Kingdom.
“Opening up to the world is a little bit dangerous, but a museum recipe is a good one,” said Piotrovsky.