Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years

Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years
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Iraqi security forces stand guard at the Iraqi side of the Arar border crossing in Anbar, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (AP)
Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years
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A handout picture released by the Iraqi Border Crossing Commission on November 18, 2020 shows the Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years
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Saudi officials attend the inugartion ceremony of the Arar border crossing. (Saudi customs)
Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years
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Saudi officials attend the inugartion ceremony of the Arar border crossing. (Saudi customs)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years

Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and Iraq opened the Arar border crossing for trade on Wednesday for the first time in three decades.
Arar had been closed since 1990, when the Kingdom severed ties with Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Rapprochement began in 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad. In July, the countries signed investment agreements on energy and sports.
“Saudi-Iraq relations had been cut … but now we celebrate an accomplishment,” Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari said.
“We welcome all Iraqi products to be exported to Saudi Arabia, and through this border, there will be an exchange of visits between the two countries.”

BACKGROUND

Arar had been closed since 1990, when the Kingdom severed ties with Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has a close personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The prime minister was to travel to Saudi Arabia in May, but the visit was canceled when Saudi King Salman was admitted to hospital. Other Iraqi ministers have visited Riyadh and a top-level Saudi delegation traveled to Baghdad last week.
Saudi Arabia is keen to help Iraq overcome its economic problems, the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, told Arab News. “Economy can salvage what politics has destroyed,” he said.
“Economic cooperation will hopefully lead to more fruitful and diverse collaborations in the future, in security and other fields. Our brothers in Iraq know that the Kingdom is not like other countries. It holds its hand out to build, not destroy.”


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives call from Kuwait emir for Eid Al-Fitr

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives call from Kuwait emir for Eid Al-Fitr
Updated 12 min 35 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives call from Kuwait emir for Eid Al-Fitr

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives call from Kuwait emir for Eid Al-Fitr

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a phone call on Monday from Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to extend greetings on the advent of the Muslim Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
The king reciprocated the sentiments, Saudi Press Agency reported.
Eid Al-Fitr, or Festival of Breaking the Fast, is celebrated by Muslims all over the world following the fasting month of Ramadan.


Turkish foreign minister visits Saudi Arabia in move to mend ties

Turkish foreign minister visits Saudi Arabia in move to mend ties
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 41 sec ago

Turkish foreign minister visits Saudi Arabia in move to mend ties

Turkish foreign minister visits Saudi Arabia in move to mend ties
  • Turkey’s policy shift was driven by its desire for more investment and trade opportunities, its realization of the limits of unilateralism and desire to hedge against its increasingly erratic relationships with great powers

ANKARA: Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu began an official two-day visit to the Kingdom on Monday in a bid to improve relations seriously undermined since 2018 by the Jamal Khashoggi case.

The visit followed a recent phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on May 4.

In a Reuters interview last month, presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey, trying to bring about a positive agenda and a change of discourse regarding the Kingdom, respects the outcome of the Saudi trial about the journalist’s killing.

During the visit, bilateral relations, trade and regional issues, including Libya, are expected to be discussed, especially during Cavusoglu’s meeting with Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud.

“Since the fall of 2020, Turkey has been concertedly working to repair its relationships with regional powers in the Middle East,” Samuel Ramani, a Middle East expert at the University of Oxford, told Arab News.

“Turkey’s policy shift was driven by its desire for more investment and trade opportunities, its realization of the limits of unilateralism and desire to hedge against its increasingly erratic relationships with great powers, such as Russia, the United States, Europe and China,” he said.

The recent decision by Saudi Arabia to close eight out of 26 Turkish schools by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year drew anger from Ankara, which claimed that 2,256 Turkish students would face challenges in education elsewhere as they are not fluent in Arabic.

Ankara will also raise the issue of lifting the Saudi unofficial boycott of Turkish goods since 2019, which has resulted in a significant fall in Turkish exports to the Kingdom.

Experts consider this decision a signal that Saudi Arabia has some prerequisites for launching normalization with Turkey, particularly on its policies toward the Arab world — especially ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and its military presence in Libya, Somalia, Qatar, Iraq and Syria.

In the meantime, Turkish exporters have allegedly removed “Made in Turkey” tags on their products to bypass the blockade.

Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia dropped by 94 percent year-on-year and stood at about $75 million in the first three months of this year, while during the same period imports from Saudi Arabia rose from $430 million to some $600 million.

Cavusoglu will also pay a visit to Egypt after his meeting in the Kingdom to normalize ties with another regional actor after a long period of enmity.

“Turkey has reached out to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and even the UAE to de-escalate tensions. These outcomes have had mixed results, as these powers still remain on opposite sides of the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, but Turkey has succeeded in de-escalating tensions with Egypt on Libya and this is seen in Ankara as an encouraging sign that could be replicated in Saudi Arabia,” Ramani said.

According to Ramani, the main issues that Saudi Arabia and Turkey will discuss are regional ones.

“The first is the eastern Mediterranean, but Saudi Arabia won’t budge from its alignment with Greece or accept Turkey’s 2019 energy deal with Libya. The second is Israel-Palestine, where both Turkey and Saudi Arabia will likely criticize Israel’s recent conduct in Al-Aqsa,” he said.

Experts note that this latest normalization drive by Turkey with the Gulf and Middle Eastern countries may be linked to an adjustment strategy with the new Biden administration in the US.

Galip Dalay, CATS fellow at SWP and non-resident fellow at Brookings Doha, expects a partial normalization of relations between Ankara and Riyadh.

“There is no meaningful conflict of interest between the parties and they are likely to take steps to partially de-escalate the tensions in the medium term,” he told Arab News.

“During the Arab Spring, Turkey and the Kingdom had ideological divergences as they took opposing sides. But they did not have any significant conflict in geopolitical terms. Turkey even supported to a certain extent Saudi Arabia’s policy choices in Yemen. However, with the Qatar crisis and Khashoggi case, the tensions escalated,” Dalay said.

Dalay anticipates rising tension between Turkey and Iran as they clash on geopolitical interests.

“Therefore Turkey wants to mend ties with the Arab camp to consolidate its position and adjust to the new reality in the region,” he said.


Saudi Arabia records 13 COVID-19 deaths, 986 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 13 COVID-19 deaths, 986 new cases
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi Arabia records 13 COVID-19 deaths, 986 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 13 COVID-19 deaths, 986 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,076 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 14 mosques temporarily closed after 14 people tested positive for coronavirus

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,085.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 986 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 427,370 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,469 remain active and 1,341 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 339, followed by Makkah with 283, the Eastern Province with 131, Asir recorded 52 and Madinah confirmed 50 cases.

The health ministry also announced that 1,076 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 410,816.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs temporary closed 14 mosques in seven regions after 14 people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed to 1,121 within 93 days, 1,098 of which have reopened after being sterilized.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 159 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.31 million.

 


Saudi Arabia introduces 7-day quarantine for unvaccinated visitors

Saudi Arabia introduces 7-day quarantine for unvaccinated visitors
Updated 18 min 8 sec ago

Saudi Arabia introduces 7-day quarantine for unvaccinated visitors

Saudi Arabia introduces 7-day quarantine for unvaccinated visitors

RIYADH: All non-citizens arriving in Saudi Arabia who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 must quarantine for a minimum of seven days, the interior ministry said on Monday.
The measures will come into force on May 20. People from a list of countries currently banned from traveling to the Kingdom will still not be allowed to visit.
Unvaccinated visitors to the Kingdom will also have to present a valid health insurance document approved by Saudi authorities to cover the risks of the coronavirus.
Some groups will be exempt from the quarantine upon arrival in the country, provided they apply precautionary measures approved by the Ministry of Health. They include:

  • Citizens, their spouses and children, along with domestic workers accompanying them
  • Unvaccinated domestic workers accompanying a vaccinated resident
  • Immunized travelers
  • Official delegations
  • Individuals carrying a diplomatic visa, diplomats and their families residing with them
  • Airline, sea crews, and truck drivers and their assistants
  • Individuals involved in health supply chains

The Public Health Authority (Weqaya) said quarantine would apply for those who had received the approved vaccine doses less than 14 days before their arrival in the Kingdom.
For those in quarantine, a PCR test must be taken on the first and seventh day from arrival.
Visitors who have been vaccinated will be required to submit a PCR test certificate within 72 hours of leaving for the Kingdom. Children aged eight and under are exempt.
The quarantine will be at the travelers expense and will be included in the price of the air ticket.
GACA said air carriers were obliged to work with hotels approved by the Ministry of Tourism to accommodate the quarantined visitors.


Saudi and Egyptian foreign ministers condemn Israel for undermining Palestinian rights

Saudi and Egyptian foreign ministers condemn Israel for undermining Palestinian rights
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi and Egyptian foreign ministers condemn Israel for undermining Palestinian rights

Saudi and Egyptian foreign ministers condemn Israel for undermining Palestinian rights
  • Egypt condemns Israeli forces for storming Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday condemned Israel for undermining Palestinian rights as days of clashes in Jerusalem erupted into an exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza.

The comments came after talks between Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on developments in Jerusalem.

The ministers discussed “the rapid developments in the Palestinian arena, and the recent Israeli incursions into the compounds of the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Ahmed Hafez, the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, said.

Shoukry briefed Prince Faisal on and Egyptian statement calling on Israel to “assume its responsibility to stop these violations in accordance with the rules of international law, and to provide the necessary protection for Palestinian civilian.”

The two ministers also affirmed their rejection of all illegal practices aimed at undermining legitimate Palestinian rights.

During the call, they also reviewed relations between their countries, and ways to enhance cooperation, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

Earlier on Monday, Egypt strongly condemned Israeli forces for storming Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, expelling Palestinian worshippers from inside the compound, and denying them access.

The foreign ministry called on Israel to assume its responsibility regarding these rapid and dangerous developments, “which will lead to more tension and escalation.”

More than 300 people were wounded on Monday in renewed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the compound, ahead of an Israeli celebration of its 1967 takeover of Jerusalem.

Egypt also stressed the need to stop all practices that violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa, especially during Ramadan.

“This is in line with the rules of international law and in order to provide all types of protection for Palestinian civilians in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the rest of East Jerusalem, while not targeting the Arab, Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The violence since Friday has been Jerusalem’s worst since 2017, fueled by a long-running bid by Jewish settlers to evict several Palestinian families from the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

A Supreme Court hearing on a Palestinian appeal in the case originally set for Monday was pushed back by the justice ministry due to the tensions.

The UN Security Council held an informal meeting at Tunisia’s request on Monday on the unrest and Arab League foreign ministers and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said they will hold emergency sessions on Tuesday.

(With AFP)