Saudi Prince Turki warns against US Syria pullout

Prince Turki Al-Faisal said the departure of US Defense Secretary James Mattis in December was unlikely to help matters. (AFP)
Updated 15 January 2019

Saudi Prince Turki warns against US Syria pullout

  • Prince Turki said that the world community was guilty of neglecting the Syrian people

JEDDAH: A senior member of the Saudi royal family has warned against a US troop withdrawal from Syria.
Speaking to the BBC, Prince Turki Al-Faisal said the action would have a “negative” impact, further entrenching Iran, Russia and the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
US President Donald Trump announced in December that it was time to bring US soldiers home from Syria.
Prince Turki made his comments just before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began a visit to Riyadh. Pompeo is on a tour of the Middle East, and has already visited Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain.
Prince Turki said that the world community was guilty of neglecting the Syrian people and the US troop withdrawal would make things worse.
“The US actions from my perspective is that it is going to further complicate, rather find any solutions to it and further entrench not only the Iranians, but also the Russians and Bashar Assad, so from the perspective it is a very negative development,” he said.
The prince added that the departure of US Defense Secretary James Mattis in December was unlikely to help matters.
“Obviously he (Mattis) disagreed with the administration on Syria policy, so in that context his remaining would have been a more positive sign of commitment to that policy,” Prince Turki said.


Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 22 min 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.