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Archive for Saudi Arabia

Newsline: At least 20 shots fired at Saudi embassy in The Hague

Shots have been fired at the Saudi embassy on the Koninginnegracht in the centre of The Hague, according to local media reports, but police say it is too early to give more information. Reports suggest the building was hit at least 20 times and that dozens of casings litter the ground. (https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/11/at-least-20-shots-fired-at-saudi-embassy-in-the-hague-no-one-hurt/) Police were alerted to the shooting shortly before 6am. No-one so far has been reported hurt. Around 6 AM we received a report that multiple shots were fired at the building of the Saudi Arabia embassy on the #Koninginnegracht in #TheHague. No one was injured. We are currently conducting research. Witnesses who have information are requested to call 0900-8844. — Politie Eenheid Den Haag (@POL_DenHaag) November 12, 2020 According to local broadcaster Omroep West, bullet holes can be seen clearly in several windows. Police and forensic teams are now at the embassy and part of the street has been sealed off while the investigation gets underway.

Newsline: Saudi man arrested in Jeddah after knife attack on guard at French consulate

A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on Thursday, local police said. A statement from the Mecca region’s police said the guard suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the perpetrator. The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger. “The French Embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify,” it said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-saudi/saudi-man-arrested-in-jeddah-after-knife-attack-on-guard-at-french-consulate-idUSKBN27E1QB) The attack occurred after a knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the French city of Nice earlier in the day. Nice’s mayor described the attack as terrorism. France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of a school teacher by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker had said he wanted to punish the teacher for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson. Since Samuel Paty’s killing, French officials have reasserted the right to display the cartoons as a matter of free expression, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the teacher. That has stirred anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned cartoons offending the Prophet Mohammad, but held back from echoing calls by other Muslim states for action against images of the Prophet being shown in France.

Newsline: US diplomats leaving Saudi Arabia as coronavirus cases surge

As countries around the world prepare to battle a looming second wave of coronavirus infections, many United States diplomats are following hundreds of US citizens repatriated over the past few months. Dozens of US diplomats, along with their families, have left Saudi Arabia as the kingdom struggles to contain the outbreak, just weeks after it reopened its economy, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. More are expected to fly out in the coming weeks, officials familiar with the plan told the WSJ, after the US State Department approved the voluntary departure of “non-emergency personnel”. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/diplomats-leaving-saudi-coronavirus-cases-surge-report-200705104720757.html) Despite Saudi Arabia’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus early on, the number of the cases in the country has surged past 200,000 – up 110,000 from May – according to figures published by the Johns Hopkins University. More than 1,800 people there have died.

Newsline: Saudi agents stole Khashoggi’s passport to force him to visit embassy

Saudi operatives had stolen Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s passport from his Washington home to force him to go to the embassy, Deputy Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Yasin Aktay said, citing a close mutual friend of the slain journalist. Aktay, who was a friend of Khashoggi and is testifying as a witness in the Khashoggi trial, told prosecutors that Saudi Arabian embassy workers in Washington stole his passport from his home, forcing him to go to the embassy to apply for a new passport, as he thought he lost it. There, he was obliged to hold a phone call with the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), who tried to persuade him to go back to Saudi Arabia. (https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/saudi-agents-stole-khashoggis-passport-to-force-him-to-visit-embassy-witness-says/news) Khashoggi noted that the officers at the Saudi Embassy acted as if they were expecting him and that he was disturbed after the visit.

Newsline: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Nigeria is dead

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja this afternoon announced the passing away Ambassador Adnan Mahmoud Bostaji. The embassy did not give any reason for the envoy’s passing. Before his appointment as a Saudi ambassador to Nigeria, Bostaji served as deputy to the ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin in 2016 (https://guardian.ng/news/saudi-ambassador-to-nigeria-is-dead/) He started his career by joining the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later, he was appointed deputy to the ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran from 1991 until 1998. In 2000, he was appointed as chargé d’affaires at the Saudi Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, until 2003. He then worked as head of economic affairs and international organizations at the Saudi Embassy in London from 2003 until 2005.

Newsline: Saudi Ambassador to UK Calls Donald Trump A “Tweet Monster”

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.K. Prince Khalid Bin Bandar has described United States President Donald Trump as a “tweet monster” over his belligerent response to the attacks on Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq last month. Speaking at defence think-tank the Royal United Services Institute in London on October 14, Prince Khalid was asked about Trump’s initial response that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to the attacks. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2019/10/15/saudi-trump-tweet-monster/#3e1de14f7eed) “He is a tweet monster if you like. He loves engaging with people on social media,” said the ambassador, who was appointed to the role earlier this year. “He does so very quickly and sometimes it’s just his initial reaction.”

Newsline: Khashoggi remembered outside Saudi consulate where he died

Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos joined activists and friends of Jamal Khashoggi near Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday on the first-year anniversary of his horrific death at the hands of Saudi agents. The memorial began just after 1:14 p.m. (1014 GMT) — the time that Khashoggi walked into the consulate a year ago, to collect documents required for him to marry his Turkish fiancee, who was waiting for him outside. He never emerged. (https://wtop.com/europe/2019/10/khashoggi-remembered-outside-saudi-consulate-where-he-died/) During the ceremony, activists called for a comprehensive United Nations investigation into the murder and action to ensure that the perpetrators of the killing don’t go unpunished.

Newsline: New Saudi ambassadors take up posts in Washington and London

Saudi Arabia’s new ambassadors to the United States and the United Kingdom have taken up their posts after several months’ vacancy amid tensions with Western allies over the Yemen war and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, the Gulf kingdom’s first female ambassador, presented her credentials in Washington while her brother, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, did so in London, state news agency SPA reported. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-diplomacy-usa-britain/new-saudi-ambassadors-take-up-posts-in-washington-and-london-idUSKCN1TZ0UF) They arrive at a fraught period in both bilateral relationships, with heightened criticism of Riyadh’s human rights record and calls to freeze arms sales amid a four-year-old war in Yemen where the Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis. Princess Reema was named in February to replace Prince Khalid bin Salman, who was heavily criticized for denying that Khashoggi had been killed last October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul before the authorities ultimately acknowledged the murder of the Washington Post columnist.

Newsline: Saudi envoy blasts UN expert’s report on Khashoggi killing

A top Saudi diplomat lashed out at an independent U.N. expert’s searing report alleging that Saudi Arabia was responsible for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying it was based on “prejudice and pre-fabricated ideas.” (https://www.yahoo.com/news/saudi-envoy-blasts-un-experts-150646625.html) In what amounted to a face-off at the U.N’s top human rights body, Ambassador Abdulaziz Alwasil insisted that special rapporteur Agnes Callamard had failed to follow proper procedures and used flawed sourcing in her 101-page report made public last week. “Accusations have been launched, and fingers have been pointed — (she is) supporting herself on non-credible articles or sources,” he told the Human Rights Council, in Arabic through a U.N. interpreter. Callamard, sitting at the council podium to present her report, retorted that her methodology had respected precedent and insisted her report wasn’t based on media reports. She also said she hadn’t received any responses in writing from Saudi authorities to her report. The report by Callamard, an independent expert on extrajudicial and arbitrary killings, alleged that Saudi Arabia bears responsibility for The Washington Post columnist’s grisly apparent dismemberment by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October. It said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s possible role in the killing should be examined, and Callamard used June 25 presentation to push for further investigation. Among diplomats speaking out, European Union ambassador Walter Stevens called on Saudi Arabia “to disclose all information available,” and “fully cooperate” with investigations into the killing, and Ralf Schroeder of Germany said “nothing can justify this killing, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.” Russia’s representative, Yaroslav Eremin, questioned the focus on journalists, dissenters and others, wondering aloud if the lives of regular citizens were “less valuable.” Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri of Bahrain rallied to the defense of its big Arab neighbor, insisting Saudi Arabia had shown “full transparency from the outset.”

Newsline: Consulate recordings reveal Saudi plan for Khashoggi murder

The UN report into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi reveals disturbing new details about what happened in the hours before he died, and the conversations that were taking place between Saudi officials who were involved in his killing. Relying on the transcripts of recordings provided by the Turkish authorities, the report describes how Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Turkey by appointment on 2 October last year, to obtain papers he needed to pave the way for his marriage to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. The report relies on recordings of conversations within the consulate in the days prior to his death, which show how a team of Saudi officials flew from Riyadh to Istanbul to kill him. Five came on a commercial flight, nine others on a private jet. One Saudi official asked whether it would “be possible to put the trunk in a bag”. Another replied: “No. Too heavy. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/19/consulate-recordings-reveal-saudi-plan-for-jamal-khashoggi) In the recordings, sounds of a struggle can be heard, the UN report says, and then voices saying: “Did he sleep? … Keep pushing … Push here. Don’t remove your hand. Push it.” The report adds: “The sound of plastic sheets (wrapping) could also be heard. Turkish intelligence concluded that these came after Mr Khashoggi’s death while the Saudi officials were dismembering his body.”