US commitment to Saudi Arabia remains ‘unshakeable,’ says diplomat

US commitment to Saudi Arabia remains ‘unshakeable,’ says diplomat
US chargé d’affaires Martina Strong speaks during an interview with Arab News in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 February 2021

US commitment to Saudi Arabia remains ‘unshakeable,’ says diplomat

US commitment to Saudi Arabia remains ‘unshakeable,’ says diplomat
  • “We are clear-eyed about the threats the Kingdom faces,” US chargé d’affaires Martina Strong tells Arab News

RIYADH: The US commitment to Saudi Arabia remains clear and unshakeable, the country’s charge d’affaires, Martina Strong, has said.

“We are very clear-eyed about the threats that Saudi Arabia faces and not just Saudi Arabia, because obviously there are several countries here that are part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) that have been facing some of the deteriorating security situations.” 

“Our commitment to Saudi Arabia just as we have over decades remains unshakeable and remains clear,” she told Arab News.

She made the remarks on the day that another ballistic missile was launched toward the Kingdom. More than 400 ballistic missiles have been launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia toward Saudi Arabia in the past few years.

Strong was looking forward to working with the Saudi leadership to ensure that those “areas of instability were addressed, those threats were addressed, and we continue to work together for the prosperity and security of our citizens.”

More than 70,000 Americans live and work in Saudi Arabia, and one area she focused on a lot was the US nationals who called the Kingdom their home. “I want to make sure, just like your leadership wants to make sure, that our citizens are secure.”

She said that President Joe Biden had made it “very clear” that the US remained committed to the long-standing security partnership that it had enjoyed with Saudi Arabia for decades.

“It is really what’s key here and beyond our longstanding security ties and cooperation. We have been very closely consulting with Saudi Arabia on all of the developments that you have mentioned, our engagement in Yemen which we also hope will lead to a political settlement and stability in the south of Saudi Arabia.”

On Sunday Biden announced the appointment of a new special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, who used to have Strong’s job in Riyadh. 

HIGHLIGHT

Martina Strong made the remarks on the day that another ballistic missile was launched toward the Kingdom. More than 400 ballistic missiles have been launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia toward Saudi Arabia in the past few years.

“It’s great to see him both be selected for this role, but also have him lead this renewed effort,” she said. “There is a lot of focus on this conflict, it was one of the areas that the president highlighted specifically in his (foreign policy) speech, and we certainly look forward with our Saudi partners to a very quick and speedy resolution to the conflict and hopefully, I would like to say in the months ahead so that we don’t have to look to the conflict continuing much longer.”

The diplomat added that working together with Saudi Arabia would make the region stable, would make the Kingdom more secure, and would “certainly” make the US more secure.

“In this regard, I always highlight our counterterrorism cooperation which again has been absolutely critical to both of our countries and to the region.”

She said that, in terms of economic cooperation, the pandemic had not dampened business between the two countries. “Despite the pandemic and despite the economic downturn in the Kingdom, in the US and around the world, the interest from US companies has really not diminished, quite the opposite.”

She explained that US companies were always looking to countries like the Kingdom that were reforming and trying to make the business environment more transparent and easier.

“They (US companies) have been coming to us asking what is happening in Saudi Arabia, how the economic picture is looking.”

She gave an example of the ongoing economic cooperation between the two countries, saying that a number of outreach events had been planned with Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar. 

“We had to transform those into virtual events,” said Strong. “There is a great deal of interest, and I think that the interest comes both from the positive experience that our companies have had here over the decades (of) our partnership but also, as I have said, from this new energy and the creative spirit that is encompassed in Vision 2030.”

Strong attended the Future Investment Initiative two weeks ago and described it as “a great opportunity” for her to see what was on the minds of all the leaders the event brought together. 

“It illustrated some of the key areas where US companies are engaged in Saudi Arabia. I think this thing of rebirth and renewal is so critical now for all of us as we look ahead toward hopefully a near-term end to the pandemic.”


Arab coalition thwarts Houthi drone attack on Saudi commercial ship

Arab coalition thwarts Houthi drone attack on Saudi commercial ship
Updated 25 min 20 sec ago

Arab coalition thwarts Houthi drone attack on Saudi commercial ship

Arab coalition thwarts Houthi drone attack on Saudi commercial ship
  • The Iran-backed Houthi militia continues to threaten global shipping lines, the coalition said

RIYADH: The Arab coalition has thwarted a Houthi drone attack on a Saudi commercial ship, Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

The Iran-backed Houthi militia continues to threaten global shipping lines, the coalition said.

It added that its efforts have contributed to securing freedom of navigation and the safety of ships transiting the Bab Al-Mandab Strait.

The “hostile attempt” to attack the Saudi ship comes after two crew members were killed when a petroleum products tanker managed by an Israeli-owned company came under attack on Thursday off Oman's coast. Israel’s Channel 13 TV quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official blaming Iran for the lethal attack in which a drone was used.


Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 30 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 505,003
  • A total of 8,226 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 14 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,187 new infections on Friday.
Of the new cases, 256 were recorded in Riyadh, 212 in Makkah, 174 in the Eastern Province, 118 in Jazan, 64 in Madinah, 59 in Asir, 58 in Hail, 52 in Najran, 36 in Al-Baha, 31 in the Northern Borders region, 28 in Tabuk, and seven in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 505,003 after 1,176 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,226 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 26.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says

Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says
Updated 30 July 2021

Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says

Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says
  • In observance of Friday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Al-Awwad said the Kingdom is making significant and constant efforts
  • Al-Awwad wants to criminalize and combat human trafficking through a set of actions and measures that ensure human dignity

RIYADH: Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said Saudi Arabia is keen to protect and promote human rights.

Al-Awwad also wants to criminalize and combat human trafficking through a set of actions and measures that ensure human dignity and protect it from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

In observance of Friday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Al-Awwad said the Kingdom is making significant and constant efforts to combat human trafficking through the establishment of the Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

The committee enacts regulations and legislation that ensure protecting victims and safeguarding their rights on a local and global level.

Not only did the Kingdom issue regulations and legislation to combat human trafficking, but it was also keen to make the necessary efforts to enforce them, Al-Awwad said.


Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours
Updated 30 July 2021

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours

DAMMAM: Municipalities throughout Saudi Arabia have ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures introduced to help stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Eastern Province municipality recently carried out 1,524 inspection tours in one day at shopping malls, commercial centers, and stores.

Checks resulted in nine commercial outlets being shut down, while 77 violators were issued with penalties for ignoring health regulations, which included breaches of overcrowding rules and failure to use the Tawakkalna app.

Officials have urged members of the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call-center number or contacting authorities via the Balady app.


Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization

Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization
Updated 30 July 2021

Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization

Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization

RIYADH: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance has reopened seven mosques in four regions that were temporarily closed for cleaning after coronavirus disease infections were confirmed among worshippers.

The ministry said on Thursday that two mosques were reopened in Riyadh, two in Qassim, two in Hail, and one in the Eastern Province.

Coronavirus infections have led to the closure of 1,909 mosques in the Kingdom in the past 173 days. The mosques were reopened after cleaning measures were completed.

The ministry urged worshippers and employees to follow precautionary measures, including wearing face masks, using their own prayer mats and maintaining social distancing.