Saudi Arabia ‘absolutely’ has the right to defend itself, says Ortagus

Morgan Ortagus described the Saudi-American relationship as “strategic, sophisticated and bipartisan” regardless of the outcome of the upcoming US presidential election. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 October 2020

Saudi Arabia ‘absolutely’ has the right to defend itself, says Ortagus

  • US State Department spokesperson stresses support against Iran
  • Ortagus tells Arab News relationship with Saudi Arabia “is bipartisan”

RIYADH: On the heels of the Saudi-American strategic dialogue, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus stressed her country’s support to the Kingdom in facing the Iranian, Houthi aggression and said that Saudi Arabia “absolutely” has the right to defend itself.
During a phone interview with Arab News, Ortagus described the Saudi-American relationship as “strategic, sophisticated and bipartisan” regardless of the outcome of the upcoming US presidential election.
Regarding critics who question US arms sales to the Kingdom, Ortagus said that deals have been happening “under Republican and Democratic administration for some time,” adding that both this administration, as well as previous ones, supported them.
Having lived in Saudi Arabia almost a decade ago while working under former President Barack Obama, she remembers those deals well.
“We know that Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf are on the front line of Iranian aggression,” she said. “That’s why we have sought to bolster and strengthen our allies to stand up to the aggression from Iran.”
Expressing concern over the abandoned and decaying oil tanker, the Safer, that has been moored near Ras Issa oil terminal on the shores of the Red Sea for more than five years, she said: “The leaking and immobile oil storage vessel Safer is a time bomb in the Red Sea, and if it ruptures, it will devastate the Red Sea ecosystem — killing its marine life and its treasured environmental heritage and depriving the people who rely on the Red Sea of their livelihoods.  
“The Houthis have politicized the tanker by continually imposing conditions before they will grant access to UN officials who need to board the Safer and do the work necessary to prevent massive environmental damage throughout the region. We call for an end to the delays and for the UN experts to be granted access so that they can assess the vessel and begin repairs.”
Following the strategic dialogue which took place on Oct. 14, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a $1 billion investment for a new embassy in Riyadh and two consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. “This shows our commitment to Saudi Arabia,” said Ortagus.
The relationship between the two countries has spanned 75 years, “we think about it in terms of the past, present and future.”
She termed the relationship as “strong but certainly not without its challenges.”
Ortagus added: “We have faced enormous challenges and moments of very trying times. But, when we start to look forward toward the future, it is important that the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia is a bipartisan relationship as it has always been.
“The relationship is certainly based on more than military, security, and oil.”
She said: “It has become a much more sophisticated trade relationship and very, very close people ties.
“We look at the next 75 years as something that can be fruitful and positive and certainly support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan for the country.”
She underlined the US support for the upcoming G20 virtual summit which Saudi Arabia is hosting virtually due to the pandemic.
“I know we are all disappointed that we won’t be in Saudi Arabia for that meeting, but we will be working together quite closely,” Ortagus added.


Saudi Arabia announces death of Prince Nawaf bin Saad bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

Updated 21 October 2020

Saudi Arabia announces death of Prince Nawaf bin Saad bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

  • The funeral prayers were held on Tuesday in the Kingdom’s capital, Riyadh

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has announced the death of Prince Nawaf bin Saad bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, state news agency SPA reported.
The funeral prayers were held on Tuesday in the Kingdom’s capital, Riyadh.
Jordan’s King Abdullah offered his condolences to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, the royal family and the people of Saudi Arabia, state news agency Petra reported.