UK, France, Germany blame Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities

UK, France, Germany blame Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities
The attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities have been blamed on Iran by both the US and European leaders. (AP)
Updated 24 September 2019

UK, France, Germany blame Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities

UK, France, Germany blame Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities
  • Leaders all on Tehran to agree to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs and regional security issues
  • US official says Washington seeks negotiations with Tehran that include missile program and terror support

UNITED NATIONS: Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Fallout from the Sept. 14 attacks is still reverberating as world leaders gather for their annual meeting at the UN General Assembly and international experts investigate, at Saudi Arabia’s request, what happened and who was responsible.
The leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany released a statement reaffirming their support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the US exited, but telling Iran to stop breaching it and saying “there is no other plausible explanation” than that “Iran bears responsibility for this attack.”
They pledged to try to ease tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to “refrain from choosing provocation and escalation.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Sunday while flying to New York that the UK would consider taking part in a US-led military effort to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defenses after the drone and cruise missile attacks on the world’s largest oil processor and an oil field.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denied any part in the attacks. He said Monday that Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility, “have every reason to retaliate” for the Saudi-led coalition’s aerial attacks on their country.

“If Iran were behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery,” he boasted.

He also stressed on the eve of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the United Nations in New York City that “it would be stupid for Iran to engage in such activity.”
Zarif called it an attack “with high precision, low impact” and no casualties. Facilities hit in the refinery would take the Saudis a year to repair, he said. “Why did they hit the lowest impact places?” Zarif asked, saying if Iran was responsible, the refinery would have been destroyed.
France has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to US-Iranian tensions, which soared after the Saudi attacks.
French President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference at the UN that he planned to meet separately with both Trump and Rouhani over the next day and would work to foster “the conditions for discussion” and not escalation.
Macron called the Sept. 14 strikes “a game-changer, clearly” but reiterated France’s willingness to mediate.
Zarif, however, ruled out any Iran-US meeting. He said Iran had received no request from the US, “and we have made clear that a request alone will not do the job.”
He said Trump “closed the door to negotiations” with the latest US sanctions, which labeled the country’s central bank a “global terrorist” institution — a designation the Iranian minister said the US president and his successors may not be able to change.
“I know that President Trump did not want to do that. I know he must have been misinformed,” Zarif said in a meeting with UN correspondents.
Zarif said he plans to meet Wednesday with ministers of all five countries remaining in the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew, including Russia and China.
Johnson, the UK prime minister, said Britain still backs the existing nuclear agreement and wants Iran to stick to its terms but urged Trump to strike a new deal with Iran.
“Whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal,” he said.
Asked about Johnson’s suggestion, Trump said he respects the British leader and believes the current agreement expires too soon.
The joint UK, France, Germany statement urges Iran to reverse its rollback on key provisions in the 2015 nuclear deal and calls for a new agreement.
“The time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery,” the three countries said.
Shortly before leaving for the UN meetings Monday, Iran’s Rouhani said on state television that his country will invite Arabian Gulf nations to join an Iranian-led coalition “to guarantee the region’s security.”
Rouhani said the plan also encompasses economic cooperation and an initiative for “long term” peace. He planned on presenting details while at the United Nations.
Zarif said the new Hormuz Peace Initiative — with the acronym HOPE — would be formed under a UN umbrella with two underlying principles: nonaggression and noninterference. He said it would require a major shift from countries “buying” security from other nations or mercenaries and instead promote the notion that “you can gain security relying on your own people and working with your neighbors.”
Johnson said he would meet Rouhani at this week’s UN gathering. He said he wanted Britain to be “a bridge between our European friends and the Americans when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf.”
Johnson stressed the need for a diplomatic response to the Gulf tensions but said Britain would consider any request for military help.
The Trump administration announced Friday that it would send additional US troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as part of a “defensive” deployment. Officials said the number of troops was likely to be in the hundreds.
“We will be following that very closely,” Johnson said. “And clearly if we are asked, either by the Saudis or by the Americans, to have a role, then we will consider in what way we could be useful.”

A UK official told The Associated Press that a claim of responsibility for the attacks by Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen was “implausible.” He said remnants of Iran-made cruise missiles were found at the attack site, and “the sophistication points very, very firmly to Iranian involvement.”
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence findings, did not say whether Britain believed the attack was launched from Iranian soil. Iran denies responsibility and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an “all-out war.”
Meanwhile Monday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei suggested the release of a British-flagged oil tanker held by Tehran since July would be imminent, though he doesn’t know when it will leave.
The Stena Impero has not turned on its satellite-tracking beacon in 58 days and there has not been any sign that it has left its position near Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the vessel after authorities in Gibraltar seized an Iranian crude oil tanker. That ship has since left Gibraltar, leading to hopes the Stena Impero would be released.
 


Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s  Jazan, Khamis Mushait
Updated 06 March 2021

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s  Jazan, Khamis Mushait
  • Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the coalition destroyed eight drones in the past 24 hours
  • The recent Houthi attacks received multiple condemnations from Arab countries

DUBAI: The Arab coalition on Saturday intercepted and destroyed two Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jazan and Khamis Mushait, state news agency SPA reported.
Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the coalition destroyed eight drones in the past 24 hours.
He added that the Iranian-backed militia’s attempts to attack civilians in a deliberate and systematic manner constituted war crimes.
Al-Maliki said the coalition had put in place measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Earlier on Friday, the coalition intercepted and destroyed six Houthi drones targeting the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt.
The recent Houthi attacks received multiple condemnations from countries including the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan where they stated their full support for the Kingdom in its fight against the militia.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also said that the continuation of these crimes confirms the militia’s dangerous escalations and its intent to harm the security of Saudi Arabia and undermine the stability of the region.


Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques

Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques
Updated 06 March 2021

Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques

Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques

RIYADH: The Riyadh branch of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance on Friday organized an awareness and monitoring campaign to ensure mosques were implementing COVID-19 precautionary and preventive measures, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The campaign was carried out in cooperation with the General Directorate of Health Affairs in Riyadh and a number of volunteer associations.
Healthcare volunteers and mosque supervisors took part in the campaign. Participants told worshippers to comply with social distancing measures, use their own prayer mats, and wear a face mask at all times.
They also organized the entry and exit of worshippers, in addition to distributing masks and prayer mats among them.
The director general of the ministry’s branch in Riyadh, Ahmed Al-Fares, said the campaign aimed to help raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention methods.
He added that the campaign was in line with the efforts of various state agencies to fight the pandemic and also promote a culture of volunteering among government bodies.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan

Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan
‘The Journey’ tells a historical story from the Arabian Peninsula where a potter with a mysterious past, Aws, takes part in an epic battle to defend his city. (Supplied)
Updated 06 March 2021

Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan

Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan
  • The film’s promotional video has already received support from Saudi entertainment officials, ministries and young people

JEDDAH: The 300 young Saudis who went to Japan to receive training in the art of manga will be able to see their new anime film on the cinematic big screen this summer.
The term manga is used in Japan to refer to both comics and cartooning, as the famous art form has been gaining popularity in the Kingdom for years.
That is why the Manga Productions Company recruited hundreds of young Saudis to come to the Toei Animation Studios to work on the first Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey.”
The company’s CEO Essam Bukhary, who is also the executive producer for the film, described the project as “the result of Saudi creative content production in cooperation with high-level international partners.”
Directed by the renowned Shizuno Kobun, the anime film took two-and-a-half years to make as the Saudi and Japanese staff succeeded in creating a blend of each country’s culture.
“Those young men and women worked along with the Japanese team on all the phases of the work, starting from writing the story, designing the characters, backgrounds, storyboard, editing, reviewing and others,” Bukhary told the YaHala TV show on Rotana Khalijia.
He said “The Journey” tells a historical story from the Arabian Peninsula where a potter with a mysterious past, Aws, takes part in an epic battle to defend his city.
Bukhary said the film will be displayed in both Arabic and Japanese.

HIGHLIGHT

Directed by the renowned Shizuno Kobun, the anime film took two-and-a-half years to make as the Saudi and Japanese staff succeeded in creating a blend of each country’s culture.

The film’s promotional video has already received support from Saudi entertainment officials, ministries and young people.
Saudi Royal Court adviser Turki Al-Sheikh, who is also the General Entertainment Authority chairman, tweeted: “I am ready to help with anything I can do.”
In another tweet, the Saudi Media Ministry posted: “The Journey, which will be displayed in the Middle East and North Africa this summer, represents a big cinematic step based on the Saudi Arabian heritage.”
The Japanese Embassy in Riyadh is excited for the film’s debut this summer and also praised both countries for their cooperation on the project.
Khaled Ibrahim, a Saudi digital illustrator, said the Kingdom is full of talented young men and women who just need studios where they can make similar animations and cartoons.
“The work that Manga Production has done, in collaboration with the famous Japanese Toei Animation, is a source of pride to us all,” he told Arab News.
Ibrahim said he was thrilled to hear that the company insisted on giving Saudis the chance to take part in courses on animation making.
“This could become the cornerstone for a new local industry,” he said.


Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services

Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services
Updated 06 March 2021

Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services

Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services

Muhammad Ali Albakri has been appointed senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services at the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Since January 2017, Albakri held the role of regional vice president for the Africa and Middle East region.

Succeeding Aleks Popovich, Albakri is now responsible for IATA’s financial settlement products and services. He will be expected to process more than $450 billion of industry every year.
His responsibilities also include strengthening IATA’s client and customer activities, along with the company’s digital transformation initiatives for the benefit of the aviation industry.
IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said Popovich left behind a great team with a clear focus on customer service that will continue to drive critical changes under Albakri’s capable leadership.
The company’s website described Albakri as “an agent of change,” who will transform the MENA team to better serve member needs and pioneer the work of IATA’s digital transformation advisory council.
“Albakri is well prepared to guide the development of IATA’s commercial offerings, settlement services and digital leadership,” de Juniac said in a statement. “In normal times, these are critical functions, even more so in the middle of an industry crisis.”
Albakri previously worked for Saudia, the Kingdom’s national flag carrier, and served as its vice president of information technology. From 2009 to 2016, he was in charge of strengthening the company’s technology infrastructure and modernizing its financial practices. Albakri earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in information sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.


Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 March 2021

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia
  • All events and parties will continue to be suspended until further notice
  • Social gatherings remain restricted to a maximum of 20 people

RIYADH: Cinemas, gyms and sports centers will be allowed to reopen in Saudi Arabia from Sunday.
Indoor dining can also resume in restaurants and cafes along with other recreational activities, the interior ministry said on Friday.
However, all events and parties will continue to be suspended until further notice. This includes weddings, corporate meetings, events in banquet halls and social events.
Social gatherings remain restricted to a maximum of 20 people.
The Kingdom suspended recreational events on Feb. 3 to halt the spread of COVID-19. The suspension was extended on Feb. 14 for 20 days.
The ministry urged people to adhere to measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and said there would be an increase in spot checks to ensure everyone followed the rules.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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