JEDDAH: A leading African politician has hailed Saudi Arabia for its vital unifying role in the Muslim world toward maintaining the security and stability of the Arab region.
Showkutally Soodhun, president of Mauritius’ ruling MSM (Militant Socialist Movement) party and the island nation’s former vice president, also praised the Kingdom for taking the lead in the global fight against terrorism.
During an exclusive interview with Arab News while visiting the Kingdom, Soodhun highlighted the huge changes he had witnessed taking place in Saudi Arabia since he first set foot in the country in 1987, and how its leadership has become a shining example to the world.
Speaking on a wide range of subjects, including the recent rise in tensions with Iran, Soodhun pointed to the Kingdom’s key influence on the world economic stage and its generous humanitarian relief work, which included a $10 million donation to Mauritius in the wake of a devastating cyclone earlier this year.
“The Kingdom plays an important role in enhancing international cooperation and increasing coordination in dealing with global challenges that impact on international stability, especially the stability of the global economy.
“Mauritius is closely watching how the situation is evolving regarding Iran’s nuclear force, with great apprehension. Iran wants to be a leader in the Arab region amidst the current divisions in the Arab world,” he said, addding that “The division of the Arab region is not in the interests of Muslims, and the Kingdom is exerting its efforts to keep the region united.
Soodhun said that “The problem in the region is with leadership, not the people, and the Kingdom is not against Iranian or Qatari people, but against their leadership,” added Soodhun.
He noted Saudi efforts to combat Iran’s support for terror groups by putting a squeeze on their finances while continuing to provide assistance and help through humanitarian and relief funding.
“Extremism and terrorism are among the most serious issues the world is currently facing. The Kingdom is making great efforts to combat that and we (Mauritius) will always stand in support.”
On recent Iranian-backed Houthi drone attacks on civilian targets, Soodhun said: “They are considered as war crimes, according to the provisions of international humanitarian law, and these are clear violations of UN Security Council resolutions.”
‘Extremism and terrorism are among the most serious issues the world is currently facing. The Kingdom is making great efforts to combat that and we (Mauritius) will always stand in support.’
Showkutally Soodhun, President of Mauritius’ ruling MSM party
Saudi Arabia and Mauritius had built strong relations over the years, and Soodhun was hoping to further strengthen the links during his latest visit to the Kingdom.
He has so far met with the Saudi ministers responsible for foreign affairs and Hajj and was due to sign agreements of cooperation with Ahmad Al-Khateeb, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, and Saleh Al-Jasser, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines.
The Mauritian political leader told Arab News that his country had seen a 400 percent increase in the number of Saudi tourists visiting Mauritius in the last couple of years after the opening of direct flights.
Soodhun went on to describe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as having “a human-lion heart” in respect of tackling crises in Egypt, Palestine, Yemen and Mauritius, and also for his work to transform the Kingdom.
He thanked Saudi Arabia for its $10 million support to Mauritius after the island was recently hit by a cyclone that destroyed 3,000 houses. “I have been in politics and power for 35 years, and I know what it takes to manage a country. Saudi Arabia is becoming an example in the world, not just the region.”
“The crown prince has a plan; he is a man of vision. He is looking forward and for progress not just for Saudi Arabia but also for the Gulf,” he said.
Bringing unity to the region was not impossible but the crown prince would need the help of “the royal family, the government, businessmen, and the support of every Muslim in the world” to carry out the mission, added Soodhun.
Comparing 1987 with 2019, Soodhun said the Kingdom had changed tremendously but the “best changes” had taken place since 2015. “There is more justice, liberty, and discipline, and a more responsible population is evolving as more Saudi youth are joining the labor market, occupying different jobs, and standing on their own feet.”
The new leadership of the Kingdom had encouraged an “active participation of the whole population in the brilliant future of the country,” Soodhun added.