Veteran Saudi diplomat warns of consequences of Israel’s Gaza war, regional spillover risk 

Veteran Saudi diplomat warns of consequences of Israel’s Gaza war, regional spillover risk 
Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, former Saudi ambassador to Lebanon and Pakistan. (AN photo)
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Updated 10 March 2024
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Veteran Saudi diplomat warns of consequences of Israel’s Gaza war, regional spillover risk 

Veteran Saudi diplomat warns of consequences of Israel’s Gaza war, regional spillover risk 
  • Ali Awadh Asseri says Israel should stop “the brutality” in Gaza, take humane approach to freeing hostages
  • Says Kingdom took multi-pronged approach to addressing the factors that contributed to youth radicalization

DUBAI: With no end in sight to Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, a veteran Saudi diplomat has warned that the conflict could contribute to regional terrorism and spill over into neighboring countries.

Israel’s military launched an air-and-ground campaign in the Gaza Strip after a Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 last year, in which about 1,200 people were killed and 253 others were taken hostage. More than 30,900 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since then and at least 576,000 people are facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity, according to local health officials and the UN respectively.

Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former Saudi ambassador to Lebanon and Pakistan, sounded the alarm during an appearance on “Frankly Speaking,” the weekly Arab News talk show.

“Israel has to stop (the atrocities in Gaza) immediately and deal in a humane way (so that) the hostages (taken by Hamas) are not tortured. That’s the answer,” he told Katie Jensen, the host of “Frankly Speaking.




Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, former Saudi ambassador to Lebanon and Pakistan. (AN photo)

He added: “We hope that a ceasefire will take place in Gaza. Ramadan is coming. And the brutality that we have seen will not make anyone happy, any human being happy, especially in the Muslim world.”

Asked about the risks of a regional spillover, he said the war was already contributing to tensions in the north of Israel and in the south of Lebanon. “There’s tit-for-tat ongoing between Hezbollah and Israel.”

He added: “We hope (war) doesn’t escalate because, if we remember, the 2006 (Israel-Hezbollah) war devastated Lebanon. And all Lebanese, they really don’t want war. They want peace. They have a bad economy. They have bad governance.”

While the citizens of Lebanon may “desire nothing but peace and prosperity,” Asseri said the situation was complicated by the strength of Hezbollah in the country, and by extension, Iran’s control over the region.

“For Hezbollah, the command comes from Iran and it depends on what Iran wants. Hezbollah listens to the command that comes from Iran,” he said.

Discussing Saudi Arabia’s own strategy for defeating terrorism, Asseri said it has proved to be the most successful of its kind in the world.

He said the Kingdom took a comprehensive approach — “including military as well as nonmilitary instruments” — to address all the factors that contributed to terrorism and radicalization.




Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former Saudi ambassador to Lebanon and Pakistan, speaks to host Katie Jensen on the Arab News current affairs show ‘Frankly Speaking.’ (AN photo)

Asseri said many countries, particularly in the Arab world and South Asia, took lessons from Saudi Arabia on how to run a successful counterterrorism program.

“Number one was prevention. Because our youngsters were misled and being taken in and indoctrinated so they were not familiar with the real spirit (and) message of Islam,” he said.

“We have seen other countries where they arrested terrorists and they tortured them and they interrogate them. And they stay in jail for a long time or they come back and talk to the same business. I’m very honored to see our government has taken a civilized approach to this phenomenon, which has nothing to do with Islam.”

He added: “With the strategy that has been implemented, the steps that the current government has taken, youngsters are happy. I don’t think they would ever think of getting back, or to be, terrorists again. Never.” 

The full episode of “Frankly Speaking” will be released on Sunday.


Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders
Updated 8 sec ago
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Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced that visit visa holders are not allowed to enter or stay in Makkah during May 23-June 21 as access to the city will be limited to Hajj visa holders.

The ministry stressed that all types of visit visa are not a permit to perform Hajj, adding that violators will be subject to penalties according to Saudi laws and regulations.


Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, conveyed the condolences of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to top Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions.

Prince Mansour bin Muteb bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to King Salman and Minister of State, and Prince Faisal were received by Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs to Iran President Mohammad Jamshidi and Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

Saudi ambassador to Iran Abdullah Al-Enazi attended the reception.


Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.


Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN World Tourism Organization’s 50th meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, on Wednesday in Muscat.

During his speech, the Saudi minister stressed the Kingdom’s openness to cooperate with member states to adopt joint regional tourism projects to attract international visitors to the region. 

Al-Khateeb thanked the Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salem Al-Mahrouqi for the hospitality and extended his appreciation to the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other officials for their efforts to advance the tourism sector globally.


Saudi ginseng reappears in Northern Borders region after 20 years

Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the Northern Borders region.
Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the Northern Borders region.
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi ginseng reappears in Northern Borders region after 20 years

Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the Northern Borders region.
  • Khonaysser Wadi Al-Anazi, a vegetation cover enthusiast, mentioned that he saw the Saudi ginseng plant on the outskirts of the city of Arar

RIYADH: Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Border region, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Nasser Rashid Al-Majlad, president of Amana Environmental Association in the region, said the plant has several names: Al-Abab, Saudi ginseng, or ashwagandha, and has reappeared again in the region after more than 20 years, similar to many other wild plants.

 Al-Majlad pointed out that the region is rich in wild plants with high economic value, as it has a distinctive natural vegetation cover, which can be invested as a natural plant resource to increase biodiversity, combat desertification, expand green areas, and enhance tourism and human development, following the green economy system that balances economic and environmental needs, benefiting humanity and the planet.

Khonaysser Wadi Al-Anazi, a vegetation cover enthusiast, mentioned that he saw the Saudi ginseng plant on the outskirts of the city of Arar. He attributed this to the recent increase in rainfall and expansion of green areas in the region.

He also noted that with the reappearance of the plant, it could be used for various purposes.