Political solution ‘only way’ to end Syrian war: Saudi foreign minister

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Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was addressing the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.” (SPA)
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Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was addressing the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.” (SPA)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Political solution ‘only way’ to end Syrian war: Saudi foreign minister

  • “A political solution would be the only way to put an end to the war,” Saudi FM says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday told a high-profile international conference that only political dialogue could resolve the crisis in Syria.

Speaking at the virtual meeting, co-chaired by the EU and the UN, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said: “A political solution, in line with the (UN) Security Council’s Resolution 2254 (calling for a cease-fire and political settlement in Syria) and the Geneva 1 Conference, would be the only way to put an end to the war.”

He was addressing the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region,” being held 10 years after the start of the Syrian conflict which has devastated the country and resulted in major issues surrounding regional and international security and stability.

Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom’s full support for the efforts of the UN, its special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, the resumption of the work of the constitutional committee, and all initiatives aimed at stopping the fighting in Syria.

“As part of its contribution to a political solution, the Kingdom hosted the Riyadh 1 and 2 conferences, which led to the establishment of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) and will continue to work on unifying the Syrian opposition.

“Iran continues to pose a significant threat to Syria’s future and identity. If some international parties have interests, Iran has a dangerous regional project, which aims to dominate using sectarian militias and causing civil wars that destroy peoples and homelands,” the prince said.

He pointed out that sectarian militias and terrorist groups were “two sides of the same coin,” creating chaos and destruction, and prolonging the crises and he stressed the importance of combating terrorist organizations in all forms.

“The Kingdom has contributed to alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people by hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian brothers on its territory. They are treated as equals to Saudi citizens when it comes to job opportunities and healthcare services, while more than 100,000 Syrian students are enrolled in Saudi schools and universities,” the minister added.

Saudi Arabia has to date contributed $1.150 billion to support programs to help millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon carried out by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) in coordination with the concerned governments.

Prince Faisal told conference delegates that the reconstruction of Syria was dependent on launching a real political settlement process led by the UN, because the repatriation of refugees required “ensuring the necessary conditions to their return according to international standards acknowledged by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.”


Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

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Updated 24 min 43 sec ago

Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

  • Due to pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine

RIYADH: Chinese video platform TikTok is under fire once again, as rumors of the app being a tool used by the Chinese government to spy on users resurface online.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is a video-sharing site similar to the now-defunct Vine, where users share short clips of themselves which can be altered using AI technology.
Lip-syncing along with a track, using filters, and adding special effects give users the chance to create short clips that can be shared and downloaded in several social media platforms.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users downloaded TikTok to watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine. The app has also gained significant popularity in the Middle East with influencers such as Saudi model Roz, UAE-based content creators Khalid and Salama, and Saudi top TikToker iimeeto, who recently celebrated reaching four million followers on the platform.
Rania Mohammed, a fourth year medical student at Dar AlUloom University in Riyadh, said that TikTok was “the only thing keeping her sane” as she struggled with the pressures of school and quarantine.
“As a med school student, my attention span and free time are both severely limited,” she told Arab News. “Taking a 15 minute break to watch silly TikToks has helped me keep motivated. The specific brand of humor on that app is the fastest way to make me laugh.”
Mai Alhumood, a government employee, said that she downloaded the app while she was bored and became “quickly addicted” to the platform’s fun short videos.
“People are so creative on TikTok, and the challenges that keep going viral are so interesting,” she told Arab News.
However, the app has long-suffered from accusations of spying and gathering users’ private information on behalf of the Chinese government, leading to both temporary and permanent bans in countries around the world.
Recently, it was reported that Amazon requested that employees remove the app from their smartphones in an email over “security risks.” The company later retracted its directive.
Saudi cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Jaber believed that concerns over the security of TikTok’s collected data stemmed from the app’s country of origin and its rules and regulations.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a ‘threat to the sovereignty and security of the country’ following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.

• Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding ‘illegal content’ such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.

• Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. He said that banning the app would be ‘punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.’

“TikTok collects data in a very similar way to US applications,” he told Arab News. “However the main concern is that the US has regulations and compliance that must be met when collecting customer data, such as GDPR data privacy regulation. In the case of TikTok, we don’t know as much about how the data is being used or stored because we don’t know their regulations.”
Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a “threat to the sovereignty and security of the country” following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.
Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding “illegal content” such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.
Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. In an interview with Gray Television, Trump said that banning the app would be “punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.”
“Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful,” he said.
While Saudi Arabia has yet to announce a ban of any kind of TikTok, local users and followers are trying to practice caution while using the app anyway.
Alhumood considered making videos on the platform, but dismissed the idea and only uses it to follow other people’s videos.
“I have ideas for it, sure, but I’d rather not take the risk. I don’t even have a username or a registered account, and that’s one of the better things about TikTok. I only have the app, but I can still watch all the videos without giving them my private information.”
Mohammed also said that she had no interest in creating videos herself, though she did have a registered account in order to comment on videos and keep track of her favorites.
However Al-Jaber said that, in his opinion, registering an account on TikTok did not necessarily pose more of a risk than using other social media.
“If you use Facebook or Twitter, it’s not much different than using TikTok,” he said.