Saudi Arabia backs Egyptian position in Libya, foreign minister says after talks with El-Sisi

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was received in Cairo by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Monday for bilateral discussions. (SPA)
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Updated 28 July 2020

Saudi Arabia backs Egyptian position in Libya, foreign minister says after talks with El-Sisi

  • Turkish media: Ankara may send F-16 fighter jets, attack helicopters to support Al-Sarraj regime
  • El-Sisi and Prince Faisal discussed relations between the Kingdom and Egypt and ways of enhancing them across all fields

CAIRO/ISTANBUL: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday asserted the Kingdom’s support for the Egyptian position in Libya.

Expressing his hope for a ceasefire in Libya, he stressed the need for a political solution and spoke against external interference in the conflict.

“We will continue the coordination between those who have not tried to address this challenge. We will be in constant contact and we will be one hand to achieve the security and peace of the region,” Prince Faisal said.

His remarks came as pro-government Turkish media reported that Ankara is expected to send F-16 fighter jets and attack helicopters to Libya to support Fayez Al-Sarraj’s regime.

According to analysts, the move is thought to be in retaliation against the Egyptian Parliament’s July 20 decision to permit the deployment of troops outside the country, and Cairo’s threats to attack Turkish-backed forces in Libya.

The Saudi minister's remarks at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry followed a meeting earlier with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Prince Faisal conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the president, and held a session with Shoukry to discuss the relations between the two countries and the developments in the region, especially in Libya.

Shoukry told the press conference that Egypt would not allow the crossing of red lines in Libya, stressing that the Libyan Presidential Council needed to be reconfigured to operate under the supervision of the elected parliament.

He reiterated Egypt’s call for a ceasefire and said Cairo was seeking to restore peace in Libya and stop the military escalation.

He also stressed the importance of restarting the country’s oil pumps, and voiced his regret at the lack of political will to reach a solution.

In Cairo, journalist and political expert Ali Al-Sayyid said Egyptian-Saudi relations were currently at their best in years, and represented balance and stability in the Arab world.

“The fate of the two countries is one, and this one fate depends on both countries having one vision and idea that seeks to support the Arab world during the problems it is currently facing,” Al-Sayyid said.

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READ MORE: Egypt’s El-Sisi wishes Saudi Arabia’s King Salman a speedy recovery

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“What threatens national security in Libya threatens Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The national security of both countries is one,” he added.

Turkish journalist Metehan Demir recently said in a televised interview that the country was preparing to send aircraft to strategic locations like Al-Watiya airbase, in case Al-Sarraj’s forces launch an operation in Sirte and Al-Jufra in early August.

Another pro-government analyst, Hasan Basri Yalcin, also claimed that Cairo was set to deploy aircraft to support its land forces in the region, and added that Turkey would inevitably use its F-16s to preserve aerial control.

Sinan Ulgen, a former diplomat and the chairman of Istanbul-based think-tank EDAM, said it would make sense for Turkey to do so.

“The main question is that once Turkey decides to forward deploy its F-16s, how it is going to protect these very expensive machines,” he said.

Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said Turkey may also seek to deploy combat aircraft to Libya in response to Russia increasing its own number of warplanes in the region.

“Turkey has prodded the US to support it in this endeavor and it appears that US Africa Command statements condemning Russia for deploying aircraft is part of supporting Ankara's position,” he told Arab News.

According to Frantzman, this means Turkey may feel empowered by the US to deploy more forces.

“This is the model that Turkey used to escalate in Syria and Libya. However, Turkey has rarely based its F-16s overseas, so deploying them to Libya would be a major step. It would show that Turkey intends to stay for the long-term in Libya,” he said.

Frantzman thinks that having Turkish and Russian warplanes in proximity in Libya could lead to the possibility of a clash over Sirte, and shows how Turkey and Russia are supplanting the former US role in the Middle East.

“Unless Cairo and others decide to step up, they will be left out in a region that is rapidly being dominated by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran,” he said.


Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.