Saudi Arabia backs US move to halt all Iranian oil sales

Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, above, said the international community must continue their pressures on Iran. (AFP/File)
Updated 24 April 2019

Saudi Arabia backs US move to halt all Iranian oil sales

  • ‘Panic in Tehran’ as Trump ends exemptions from economic sanctions on May 2
  • The Saudi minister said Iran uses state income to finance their dangerous policies

JEDDAH: Iran on Tuesday designated the US military’s Central Command a terrorist organization, accused Washington of sponsoring terrorism and repeated its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

It was Tehran’s response to US blacklisting this month of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and President Donald Trump’s move on Monday to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero, costing the country $15 billion a year in lost revenue.

The reaction is a sign of panic in the Iranian regime, the Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“This highlights the fact that the Iranian leaders are extremely concerned about the US sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic,” he said. “They have been feeling significant pressure from loss of revenues, a decline in oil exports, isolation of the IRGC, and dissatisfaction of the Iranian public with the regime.”

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday welcomed the US announcement that eight countries’ exemptions from economic sanctions against buyers of Iranian oil would end on May 2.

“Saudi Arabia fully supports this step taken by the United States as it is necessary to force the Iranian regime to end its policy of destabilizing the region and its support and sponsorship of terrorism around the world,” Foreign Minister Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Assaf said.

The Iranian regime used its oil income to finance dangerous policies without any consideration for international law, the minister said, and international pressure must continue until it stopped interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries.

Iran’s Parliament passed legislation on Tuesday requiring the government “to take firm and retaliatory measures against terrorist activities of American forces that endangers Iran’s interests.”

“The government should use legal, political and diplomatic measures in response to the American actions,” it said.

The new chief commander of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, appointed after the US blacklisting, has warned that Iran could use its cruise and ballistic missiles and drones, mines, speedboats, and missile launchers in the Gulf area to confront the US.

He repeated the threat that Tehran would block all exports through the Strait of Hormuz if Tehran were barred from using the waterway, where a fifth of global oil consumption passes.

The US on Tuesday urged Iran to keep the strait open. “We call on Iran, and all countries, to respect the free flow of energy and commerce, and freedom of navigation,” a State Department spokesman said.

Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said the US had made a mistake by politicizing oil. “With all our power, we will work toward breaking America’s sanctions,” he said.


Saudi airports welcome back passengers after two-month hiatus

Updated 7 min 26 sec ago

Saudi airports welcome back passengers after two-month hiatus

  • Social distancing and face masks required in aircraft
  • Two local flights to be added daily to restore capacity 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is welcoming the return of aircraft and passengers amid strict precautionary measures to counter the spread of coronavirus.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) on Sunday opened 11 of the Kingdom’s 28 airports in a step toward restoring normality to everyday activities.
All flights and means of travel between Saudi cities ground to a halt on March 21.
“The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowd inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” GACA spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.
He said that two local flights would be added daily until all routes returned to their normal capacity, during which time GACA would increase the capacity of aircrafts as decided by relevant committees. 
GACA has issued a travel guide for passengers, detailing what steps have been taken by authorities to ensure public health and safety and what obligations are on passengers. 
A decision about the return of international flights was up to authorities, he said. 
“I call on all travelers, both Saudis and residents, to read this guide and to look at the information and details in it because the travel decision depends on it,” the spokesman added.
Passengers found to violate any of the terms and conditions will not be allowed to complete the check-in process as per the new travel procedures.
The new terms include the use of e-tickets and passengers will not be allowed to enter airport premises without one. Purchasing tickets inside airport grounds is currently not an option because booking services for airline sales are currently closed.
Wearing a face mask is a prerequisite for airport access and any individual who fails to wear a face mask will be denied entry to the airport.
Passengers under the age of 15 will not be allowed to travel unaccompanied.
The Ministry of Health has set up temperature checkpoints inside the airport and passengers recording a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher will be denied entry in order to ensure their safety and the safety of other passengers.
Social distancing inside the airport has been adopted at entrances, exits, at seating areas and bridges leading to airplanes.
There will be social distancing on the aircraft, with an empty seat between each passenger, according to recommendations from the Ministry of Health, which stipulated that there must be social distancing.
“We want to make airports a safe environment to achieve a safe flight. There is another important issue, which is a well-known social tradition. There are many people at the airport who come to say goodbye to their loved ones or receive them. We will not allow the presence of people who do not have tickets in the airports, in order to ensure the safety of passengers,” said the GACA spokesman.
He said that passenger cooperation and compliance played a key role in the successful restart of flights.
“We rely on citizens and passengers, locals and residents alike, to help us implement preventive measures and to comply with the health rules recommended by the Ministry of Health.”