Interview: Adel Al-Jubeir talks Yemen, Saudi-US relations, human rights and Israel

Short Url
Updated 23 March 2021

Interview: Adel Al-Jubeir talks Yemen, Saudi-US relations, human rights and Israel

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Adel Al-Jubeir stressed that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US was “strong, dynamic and multifaceted.” (AN Photo)
  • In exclusive interview, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs described Saudi-US ties as “strong, dynamic and multifaceted” 
  • He said Riyadh has supported “every effort and every initiative” by UN envoys to find a solution to Yemen conflict

RIYADH: Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue virtually unaltered under the Biden administration, the Kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs has said.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Adel Al-Jubeir stressed that the relationship between the two countries was “strong, dynamic and multifaceted.”

“The (Biden) administration has made it very, very clear that it is committed to the defense of Saudi Arabia, that it is committed to defending Saudi against external threats,” he said.

“So, I really don’t see much of a change between this administration and the previous administration in terms of their commitment to Saudi Arabia.”

 

He pointed out that relations between the two countries go back 80 years, and have been an important factor in maintaining global stability and security.

“Our relationship with the US is a strategic relationship. We have economic interests and financial interests. We work to fight extremism and terrorism,” Al-Jubeir said.

“We work to stabilize the region — whether it’s trying to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians; whether it’s in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan; trying to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan; whether it’s stabilizing Sudan; whether it’s working to end the war in Libya or to deal with the G5 (Sahel) countries, in their fight against Boko Haram.

“I believe they have made it clear that they want Iran to go back to the nuclear agreement and they want a nuclear agreement that is, to quote Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken, ‘stronger and longer.’ This is something that we've been advocating since the advent of this deal.

“We want the ‘sunset provision’ to be eliminated so that Iran cannot indefinitely enrich uranium. And we want to have a broader and deeper inspections mechanism to make sure that everything in Iran can be inspected, should there be a need.”

 

The recent attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities had links to Iran, Al-Jubeir told Arab News. “All of the missiles and drones that came into Saudi are Iranian manufactured or Iranian supplied,” he said. “Several of them, as we've said, came from the north; several came from the sea.”

In his view, the US decision to remove the Houthis from its international terrorism list, on the same day the Yemeni separatists attacked the civilian airport in Abha in Saudi Arabia, would make little difference to the international effort to provide aid to the country.

“We have made this very clear to our friends in Europe and to the US as well as to the United Nations special envoy,” Al-Jubeir said.

“The Taliban in Afghanistan are on the terrorism list; it doesn’t stop aid from coming to Afghanistan. In Syria you have Daesh on the terrorism list and that doesn’t stop aid from going to Syria. Hezbollah in Lebanon is on the terrorism list, that doesn’t stop aid from going to Lebanon. The Al-Shabab in Somalia are on the terror list and that doesn’t stop aid from going there. Boko Haram is on a terror list and that doesn’t stop aid from going into the G5 Sahel countries.”

The problem, Al-Jubeir insisted, lay with the Houthis. “They steal the aid; they sell it to finance their war machine. They induct young boys — 9, 10, 11 years of age — and put them on the battlefield, which is against international law and a severe violation of human rights,” he said.

“They indiscriminately launch ballistic missiles and drones against civilians, whether it’s in Saudi Arabia or in Yemen, where they also robbed the Central Bank. They rejected every attempt at achieving a peaceful settlement or cooperating with the UN special envoy.

“So, the message the position from our perspective with regards to the Houthis is very clear: They belong on a terrorism list and nobody should deal with them.”

The presence of the Iranian-backed separatists does not mean that peace is impossible in Yemen, Al-Jubeir said.

“We believe there is a political solution out there. We’re trying to achieve that political solution and have been trying to do so since the beginning of the commencement of hostilities several years ago,” he said.

“We have supported every effort and every initiative by the UN special envoys to arrive at a solution. We have worked to unify the Yemeni government, to unify the north with the Southern Transition Council. We have provided more than $17 billion in humanitarian assistance. We have made it very clear that the only solution in Yemen is a political solution based on the GCC initiative, the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue and the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.”

Al-Jubeir defended Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights, which has come under attack in some parts of the world.

 

“Our view is that Saudi Arabia has made great strides in human rights. Fifty years ago, we had no schools for women; today 55 percent of college students are women. Seventy years ago, we had maybe 90 percent illiteracy rates; today everybody reads and writes and goes to school,” he said.

“Seventy or 80 years ago, infant mortality rates were very high. Maybe two out of three children died before the age of two. Today they’re at the same level as Europe and the United States. We have life expectancy rates that, within one generation, have virtually doubled. So, we take care of our people by providing them security, by providing them healthcare, by providing an education, by providing them opportunity.”

He added: “With regards to human rights as defined by the critics of Saudi Arabia, we have made great strides — in terms of liberating women, empowering youth, in terms of reforming our judicial system, in terms of opening up our society and making it possible for young people to be able to realize their hopes and their dreams and their ambitions. This is human rights. This is the important part.”

Despite the “normalization” of relations between some Arab countries and Israel, the position of the Kingdom remained unchanged, Al-Jubeir emphasized.

 

“We want a two-state solution based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant United Nations resolutions where we have a Palestinian state and living side by side in peace and security. That remains our position,” he said.

“We believe that we were instrumental in moving the Arab world away from the ‘three nos’ ­— announced in Khartoum in 1967 that said ‘no to negotiations, no to recognition, and no to peace’ — by putting forth the late King Fahd’s eight-point plan at the Arab Summit in Fez in the early ’80s.

“This was adopted by the Arab world and basically called for a two-state solution. Then later at the (Arab League) summit in Beirut in 2002, we put forth the Arab Peace Initiative that called for what I mentioned: Two states, recognition, normalization of relationship, and everything that it entails in terms of good neighborly relations. This was adopted by the global community and that remains our position now.”

Referring to the states that have normalized ties with Israel, Al-Jubeir said: “Those are sovereign decisions that are really up to those countries. What we have said is if that leads to a change in Israel’s position with regards to annexation of Palestinian territory, or if it leads to a softening of Israel’s position with regards to negotiations, then there may be some benefit in it.

“But as far as the Kingdom is concerned, our position remains that normalization can only come if there’s an agreement on peace.”

 

Desert Storm: 30 years on
The end of the Gulf War on Feb. 28, 1991 saw the eviction of Iraq from Kuwait but paved the way for decades of conflict

Enter


keywords

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections
Updated 37 min 18 sec ago

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections
  • The Kingdom said 1,386 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 5 mosques reopened in 4 regions after being sterilized after 5 people tested positive for COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed 12 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,179.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,252 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 519,395 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,799 remain active and 1,424 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 316, followed by the capital Riyadh with 265, the Eastern Province with 169, Asir recorded 145, and Qassim confirmed 81 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,299 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 500,428.

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 Commerce said it carried out 2,310 field tours in the Madinah region during the Eid Al-Adha holiday to monitor that commercial establishments were adhering to precautionary measures.
During the inspections, which included food stores, commercial complexes, gas stations, and gold and precious metals stores, 39 violations were recorded, and authorities seized 39,072 food products, and 6,570 products that violated the Saudi standard specifications. Regular procedures and penalties were imposed on violating facilities. 
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened five mosques in four regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after five people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,898 within 170 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 195 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.17 million.


Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive
Updated 26 July 2021

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive
  • Foreign pilgrims will be able to perform Umrah with the start of the new Islamic year which is expected to fall on August 9

RIYADH: Sterilization at the Grand Mosque is being intensified as the holy site begins to receive Umrah pilgrims after the completion of Hajj 2021.
Procedures for regulating entry and exit, the allocation of specific lanes for people with special needs and the distribution of Zamzam water bottles to prayer areas, courtyards and tawaf areas are also in place to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims.
Foreign pilgrims will be able to perform Umrah with the start of the new Islamic year which is expected to fall on August 9, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj for Hajj and Umrah Services Hesham Saeed told Al-Ekhbariya news channel.


Saudi navy unveils latest warship Jazan in Spain

Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 26 July 2021

Saudi navy unveils latest warship Jazan in Spain

Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
  • The Avante 2200 corvette is the fourth of its type being built in a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Military Industries and Spain's Navantia

MADRID: The Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) recently celebrated the launch of the Avante 2200 corvette, which is the fourth warship of its type within the Sarwat project.

The ship, named Jazan, was unveiled by the Spanish shipbuilder as part of its ceremonial launching held at the shipyard of the Navantia Naval Industries Co., Spain.

The corvettes are being built in a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), and Navantia S.A., named SAMI Navantia Naval Industries.

They will be delivered in 2024, a year later than initially planned, and will feature special combat and fire control systems and integrated communications among other technologies.

The launch event was attended by the Saudi ambassador to Spain, Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain; the vice president of SAMI for corporate communication, support services and information technology, Wael bin Mohammed Al-Sarhan; as well as other senior officials from RSNF, Spanish Navy and SAMI Navantia Naval Industries.

Saudi ambassador to Spain, Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain, meets with officials of the SAMI Navantia Naval Industries in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)

The commander of the RSNF, Lt. Gen. Adm. Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghufaili, said: “The Sarawat project will contribute to raising the level of readiness of the RSNF, enhancing maritime security in the region and protecting the vital strategic interests of the Kingdom. In addition, the project ships are an important addition to the capabilities of the RSNF in protecting the Kingdom’s maritime interests and localizing advanced military industries technically.”

The Sarawat project warships feature the latest combat systems to deal with all air threats, surface and subsurface, as well as being equipped for electronic wars. They have more capabilities than many of the world’s navies, and are a further addition to the capabilities of the RSNF in protecting the nation’s maritime security.

The project also includes training services for crews, training simulators, logistics, and long-term after-sales technical and logistical support.


Umrah companies gear up to receive foreign pilgrims

Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
Updated 26 July 2021

Umrah companies gear up to receive foreign pilgrims

Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
  • Industry workers could be trained to operate under pandemic conditions, says official

MAKKAH: Hundreds of companies are gearing up to receive fully immunized foreign pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah from Aug. 9.

Via an online platform, pilgrims will be given access to 500 businesses providing access to flights, transport, hotels and Umrah companies.
Hani Al-Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and the Hotels Committee in Makkah, told Alarabiya that nearly 30 websites and platforms will be available for international reservations.
“Health courses and crowd management courses were given to all employees as several companies have commenced operations. Procedures for the rest of the companies and institutions are being finalized by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and other relevant authorities,” said Al-Omairi.
Commenting on the news, Mohsin Tutla, chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation, told Arab News the return of pilgrims could be ensured through training the industry to provide services under pandemic conditions. He added that the introduction of vigilance technology throughout the pilgrimage and further measures would help smoothen the process.
Tutla told Arab News that the demand from pilgrims to conduct rituals during the pandemic is not as high as people may think.

SPEEDREAD

• Via an online platform, pilgrims will be given access to 500 businesses providing access to flights, transport, hotels and Umrah companies. 

• Hani Al-Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and the Hotels Committee in Makkah, says nearly 30 websites and platforms will be available for international reservations.

“Even though we can assume that people have been queuing to perform Hajj and Umrah, the reality is that people’s financial capability has been depleted.
“Where Hajj and Umrah were available and easy for the mass population and the middle income population, it is now only possible for the rich and thrifty savers.”
Tutla added: “The road to recovery and rejuvenation is not dependent on only demand, it is dependent on the development of global safety mechanisms such as the Hajj and Umrah Safe Corridor, which is currently being developed by the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation, and is being installed in 25 countries worldwide.

Demand from pilgrims to conduct rituals during the pandemic is not as high as people may think. 

Mohsin Tutla, Chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation

“Globally you will realize that demand would have dropped by approximately 40 percent for international Umrah and 15 percent for international Hajj pilgrimages.” Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. As many as 250,000 domestic pilgrims were able to register, book appointments and granted permits in the first phase.
Some 10,000 foreign pilgrims were gradually allowed back into the Kingdom in the third phase on Nov. 1 after a seven-month hiatus of strict regulations.


Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president
Updated 26 July 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser has been appointed as the new head of the Islamic Development Bank for the next five years.

He has been an adviser at the General Secretariat of the Saudi Council of Ministers and the chairman of the General Authority for Competition since 2016.

Al-Jasser received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California in 1986. He obtained his master’s degree in economics from the same university in 1981, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from San Diego State University in 1979.

He served as the Kingdom’s economy and planning minister from 2011 to 2015, and as governor of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) between 2009 and 2011. He was also the vice governor and vice chairman of the SAMA’s board from November 1995 to February 2009.

He has participated in major international events, including G20 meetings at the deputy, ministerial, governor and full summit levels. Al-Jasser also participated in regular meetings of the Bank for International Settlements from 1997 to 2011, and took part in local and international symposia, while also giving frequent lectures on economic and monetary policies.

His previous memberships of ministerial committees, boards and councils include the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, the Supreme Council for Civil Defense, and the Ministerial Committee for Mining Affairs among others.

Al-Jasser has received many awards such as the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order in 2001, the Euromoney (Emerging Markets) Award for Central Bank Governor, MENA Region for the Year in 2009, the Arab Bankers Association of North America Achievement Award in 2010, and “The Banker” Award and “Central Bank Governor of the Year for the Middle East” in 2011.