Posted tagged ‘King Salman’

King of Saudi Arabia Personally Intervenes in Temple Mount Crisis, Says Metal Detectors ‘Routine’ at Holy Places

July 18, 2017

King of Saudi Arabia Personally Intervenes in Temple Mount Crisis, Says Metal Detectors ‘Routine’ at Holy Places, The Jewish PressHana Levi Julian, July 18, 2017

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman of Saudi Arabia personally intervened in the Temple Mount crisis via the United States, according to a report posted Tuesday by the Arabic-language Elaph website, based in London.

The decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Israeli security officials late Saturday night to reopen the holy site to Muslim worshipers, visitors and tourists allegedly came after receiving a message from the Saudi monarch via the White House.

Moreover, the Saudi king expressed no reservations about Israel’s decision to upgrade security by installing metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the wake of the terror attack last Friday that left two Israeli policemen dead and others wounded.

“The issue of metal detection machines, said the source, is a matter that has become routine in the holy places because of terrorism, which strikes without discrimination and in most places regardless of the sanctity of the different religions,” reported Elaph.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, warned followers that their prayers would not be accepted in Heaven if they pass through the metal detectors to enter the Temple Mount for prayers in Al Aqsa Mosque — the third holiest site in Islam.

Given that King Salman is the Custodian of the Two Mosques, Islam’s two holiest sites, one might consider his authority to overrule that of the Mufti in spiritual matters such as effect of metal detectors on the human body and its ability to convey prayer to heaven.

Israel’s prime minister also reportedly invited King Salman and Saudi officials to visit the Al Aqsa Mosque to see “the situation on the ground,” but “received no response.”

In addition, Netanyahu reiterated his pledge via the White House that Israel would maintain the status quo at the site, the report noted, adding Jordan was also involved in the communications. Israel’s prime minister, Elaph reported, told Jordan’s King Abdullah II he was not pleased about remarks by Jordan’s parliamentary speaker, Atef Tarawneh over Al Aqsa, which he considered “irresponsible.”

On Tuesday, Tarawneh added to the incitement, commenting from the podium of the Jordanian Parliament that the legislative body “is documenting all the racist laws of the Knesset that support the settlements and the occupation, and we will spread them to all the parliaments that are brothers and friends of Jordan around the world.”

Saudi king wants Obama to tackle Iranian ‘mischief’

August 31, 2015

Saudi king wants Obama to tackle Iranian ‘mischief,’ Al-Monitor, August 31, 2015

U.S. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (R) at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 22, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster) Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/08/saudi-king-washington-visit-iran-deal.html#ixzz3kPeQtHQK width= U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (R) at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 22, 2015.

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s three-day visit, strategically scheduled just days before Congress votes on the agreement, offers the Saudi leader a powerful platform to insist that the United States help combat Iranian “mischief.” The king is seeking assurances in the fight against Iran’s proxies across the region, as well as with elements of the nuclear deal itself.

The visit “underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Aug. 27.

“The president and the king will discuss a range of issues and focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counterterrorism efforts,” Earnest said. “They will also discuss regional topics, including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

Despite deep reservations about the deal, sources close to the Saudi government say that unlike Israel, the kingdom quickly concluded that it could not be defeated in Congress and that no better alternatives were likely to emerge.

Riyadh, however, has repeatedly made clear that its support is conditioned on a tough inspection regime and snapback sanctions. Salman may seek further assurances on those aspects of the deal in light of recent reports that allege that Iran will be allowed an unusual amount of autonomy with regard to inspections of its military installation at Parchin.

“The agreement must include a specific, strict and sustainable inspection regime of all Iranian sites, including military sites, as well as a mechanism to swiftly re-impose effective sanctions in the event that Iran violates the agreement,” the Saudi Embassy in Washington said after the deal was announced.

Most of the discussion is expected to center on non-nuclear issues, however.

Salman and President Barack Obama, who will meet Sept. 4 at the White House, are expected to further flesh out Washington’s promise of increased military support for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries — including a potential missile defense shield — as discussed during the US-GCC Camp David summit in May. That meeting, which was skipped by four of the top six regional leaders — including Salman — aimed to reassure the Gulf nations of America’s commitment to their security amid the perceived rapprochement with Iran.

“This is an opportunity to reset this relationship when there are some pretty considerable concerns on both sides,” said David Weinberg, a Gulf analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It comes in the context of the United States trying to reassure the Gulf states about the Iran deal, as well as to focus on this Camp David agenda in terms of concrete US security assistance. It’s reasonable to assume that that’s going to be a big focus of the trip as well.”

Much of the conversation is expected to focus on military hardware: The Saudis are seeking upgrades to their F-15s along with other advanced weaponry, but Israel is said to have raised concerns during Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recent visit to the region. Congress may object to such sales if lawmakers deem that they would undermine Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge.

The Saudis will be interested “in how much the White House will invest itself so that it can get the technology that it wants,” former Obama National Security Council Middle East adviser Prem Kumar told Al-Monitor. They will want to see if the White House “will spend some political capital on the Hill.”

Another topic of interest is the proposed creation of a GCC-wide “rapid reaction force” to take on external threats. The White House paid lip service to the idea in its joint statement from the Camp David summit, but the idea has failed to gain traction among concerns by Qatar and Oman that it would be dominated by the Saudis.

“In terms of GCC-wide reassurance, the Saudis are interested to hear what the US is prepared to do to support the GCC rapid reaction force, the joint Arab defense force, if that is going to materialize,” Kumar said.

Beyond military requests, Salman is likely to seek US backing for his more muscular approach to foreign policy compared with his predecessor. That includes beefed-up US support for his campaign against the Houthis in Yemen and a renewed focus on getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

For Riyadh, said former Saudi Embassy political analyst Fahad Nazer, a nuclear Iran “is more of a long-term issue. They’re concerned about the here-and-now.”

“The Saudis at this point have kind of parted ways with their traditional behind-the-scenes diplomacy and trying to mediate between warring factions,” Nazer said. “[They’ve realized] it’s time for them to take the helm of ensuring their own interests.”

In Yemen, “The Saudis want the US to get more involved, beyond intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition,” said Kumar, now vice president with the Albright Stonebridge Group. Already, the Pentagon in recent weeks has more than doubled its advisers on the ground providing targeting intelligence for airstrikes and helping the Saudis roll back the Houthis, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Those battlefield successes have led some Saudi cheerleaders to argue that the intervention in Yemen offers a “template” for similarly emboldened leadership in Syria. While Nazer and others doubt Riyadh will go that far, the Saudis have recently announced their own proposal to withdraw support for Sunni rebels if Iran removes its forces and Hezbollah fighters with a view to parliamentary and presidential elections under UN supervision.

“I think there are a couple concrete things” on the Saudi wish list, Kumar said. “First is to increase support for the Syrian opposition, in some form or other. Safe zones, maybe direct pressure on the [Assad] regime, that would not necessarily undercut diplomatic initiatives.”

The king’s visit isn’t just about politics, however. He will be accompanied by a large entourage of ministers and business executives, and some of them are expected to stay on after the royal visit.

The US-Saudi Arabian Business Council has announced a daylong investment forum with the ministers of finance as well as commerce and industry.

 

Why the Snub? Saudis Know Obama’s Replaced Them With Iran

May 11, 2015

Why the Snub? Saudis Know Obama’s Replaced Them With Iran, Commentary Magazine, May 11, 2015

Will Obama get the message and change course? That’s even less likely than him embracing Netanyahu. An administration that came into office determined to create more daylight between itself and Israel has now embarked on a policy designed to alienate all of America’s traditional allies in order to appease a vicious Islamist foe. Anyone who thinks this will turn out well simply isn’t paying attention to the same events that have left the Saudis and other U.S. allies thinking they are more or less being left on their own.

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If the Obama administration thought it’s half-hearted efforts to make up with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states outraged by its Iran policies, it’s got another thing coming. On Sunday, the Saudis told the White House that King Salman would not be attending meetings there or at Camp David this week. Later, Bahrain said its King Hamad would skip the same meeting. The snubs are as pointed as President Obama’s recent signals that he has no intention of meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu anytime soon. But while the president has little interest in patching things up with America’s sole democratic ally in the Middle East, he was quite interested in making nice with the Saudi monarch. But the Saudis and Bahrain, like the Israelis, are deeply concerned by the U.S. effort to create a new détente with Iran. It’s not just that Salman apparently has better things to do than to schmooze with Obama. The president may have thought he could essentially replace the Saudis with Iran as the lynchpin of a new Middle East strategic vision without paying a price. But the Saudis understandably want no part of this. The result will be a region made even more dangerous by the Arabs, as well as the Israelis, coming to the realization that they can’t rely on Washington.

The conceit of Obama’s strategy rests on more than a weak deal that he hopes will be enough to postpone the question of an Iranian bomb even as it essentially anoints Tehran as a threshold nuclear power. Rather it is predicated on the notion that once Iran is allowed to, in the president’s phrase, “get right with the world” and reintegrated into the global economy, it can be counted on to keep peace in a region from which Obama wants to withdraw.

That’s why the administration has tacitly allied itself with Iran in the struggle against ISIS in Iraq and, bowed to Tehran’s desire to leave its ally Bashar Assad in power in Syria even as they sought to restrain the Islamist regime’s Houthi friends in their effort to take over Yemen. But given Iran’s desire for regional hegemony, it’s reliance on terrorist allies like Hezbollah and Hamas as well as Assad’s criminal regime, the notion that it is a force for stability is as much a delusion as the idea that it is giving up its quest for nuclear weapons.

Just as important, the Obama foreign policy team was convinced that it could afford to ignore the Saudis’ concerns about their intended entente with Iran with as much impunity as it did those of Israel. As one expert quoted in the New York Times said, the Saudis have no alternative to the U.S. as a superpower ally. But it has not failed to escape their attention that “there’s a growing perception at the White House that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are friends but not allies, while the U.S. and Iran are allies but not friends.”

Under the circumstances, the Saudis are now prepared to show the president the extent of their disdain. But it may not stop at that.

The Saudis, like the Israelis, know that America’s promises about both the nuclear deal and the future of the region are not worth much. The Iranians have been granted two paths to a bomb by the United States. One is by cheating via the easily evaded restrictions in the nuclear pact with little fear of sanctions being snapped back. The other is by patiently waiting for it to expire while continuing their nuclear research with little interference from a West that will be far more interested in trade than anything else.

That leaves the Saudis thinking they may need to procure their own nuclear option and to flex their muscles, as they have been doing in Yemen. It also sets up the region for what may be an ongoing series of confrontations between Iranian allies and the Saudis and their friends, a recipe for disaster.

Will Obama get the message and change course? That’s even less likely than him embracing Netanyahu. An administration that came into office determined to create more daylight between itself and Israel has now embarked on a policy designed to alienate all of America’s traditional allies in order to appease a vicious Islamist foe. Anyone who thinks this will turn out well simply isn’t paying attention to the same events that have left the Saudis and other U.S. allies thinking they are more or less being left on their own.

Iran’s advances create alarm in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf

March 14, 2015

Iran’s advances create alarm in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the Guardian,  March 13, 2015

Arabs believe Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a are in effect under Iranian control – and power may shift further if US sanctions are eased.

c0ac3569-93da-4ae8-8b51-29dc6991ee13-620x372 Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, visiting Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran this year. Photograph: Presidential official handout/EPA

Iran’s great advantage, suggests Emile Hokayem, an analyst, is its commitment and competence, in Syria and beyond. “The expertise, experience and strategic patience it deployed in support of the Syrian regime to a great extent facilitated Assad’s recovery from serious setbacks in 2012. In contrast, the war in Syria has exposed not only the political and operational limitations of the Gulf states, but also the rivalries among them.”

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The commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have been working overtime recently, flaunting their achievements across the Middle East and flexing muscles as international negotiations over the country’s nuclear programme enter their critical and perhaps final phase.

On Wednesday it was the turn of Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC’s most senior officer. “The Islamic revolution is advancing with good speed, its example being the ever-increasing export of the revolution,” he declared. “Not only Palestine and Lebanon acknowledge the influential role of the Islamic Republic but so do the people of Iraq and Syria. They appreciate the nation of Iran.”

Last month a similarly boastful message was delivered by General Qassem Suleimani, who leads the IRGC’s elite Quds force — and who is regularly photographed leading the fightback of Iraqi Shia miltias against the Sunni jihadis of the Islamic State (Isis) as well as against western and Arab-backed rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad in southern Syria. “Imperialists and Zionists have admitted defeat at the hands of the Islamic Republic and the resistance movement,” Suleimani said.

Iran’s advances are fuelling alarm in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, where Tehran has been a strategic rival since the days of the Shah, and which now, it is said with dismay, in effect controls four Arab capitals – Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut and in the last month Sana’a in Yemen – which is uncomfortably close to home.

Iran’s regional position has certainly improved. Its high-profile role fighting Isis in Iraq, Assad’s retention of control in Syria with the help of its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebel takeover in Yemen have all been deeply discomfiting for the Saudis. Anti-government protests in Shia-majority Bahrain are also often blamed on Tehran — though that ignores the domestic roots of the unrest.

In Riyadh King Salman has dropped his preoccupation with the Muslim Brotherhood in favour of building a united Sunni Arab front to confront the Iranians, diplomats say, though translating that strategy into action is another matter. The message from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is that whatever the outcome of the nuclear talks, Iran is bent on expanding its power and influence. “The Iranians have scored major victories but only where there are Shia minorities,” a senior Gulf official told the Guardian. “Our concern is that the nuclear issue will become a tool of their foreign policy.”

Arab alarm is shared by Israel. Binyamin Netanyahu used identical arguments in his recent speech to the US Congress, timed to influence next week’s nuclear endgame in Geneva. “The Saudis will be incredibly worried that we are getting close to a point where the Iranians will be players because of the nuclear issue and the way the Americans have effectively ended up on the same side as the Iranians in Iraq,” said one veteran Saudi-watcher. “But the noise they are making is in inverse proportion to their ability to do anything about it.”

Arab governments are not reassured by the promises of John Kerry, the US secretary of state, that Washington is not seeking a “grand bargain” with Tehran that will allow it to “destabilise” the Middle East, bolstered by the easing of economic sanctions. Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, warned of Tehran’s “hegemonic” ambitions as the IRGC supported the military operation to retake the Iraqi town of Tikrit from Isis. In Gulf capitals Hassan Rouhani, the emollient Iranian president, is seen as less important than the hardline supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is hard to disentangle propaganda from reality. But independent analysts argue that Iran is inflating its gains for both foreign and domestic consumption. “If you listen to Suleimani there is a degree of exaggeration,” argues Ali Ansari of St Andrews University. “It’s rhetorical reassurance. He is saying to Iranians: ‘We are powerful and and everyone is worried about this’ – partly to make the point that they are not really under pressure. People outside can see what Iran’s strengths and weaknesses are. But there is this belief that you need to negotiate from a position of strength and that if you are weak you will be trampled on.”

Iran-watcher Hossein Rassam also detects a domestic calculation in the IRGC statements. “Critics of Rouhani’s policy of rapprochement with the international community inside Iran can turn to the supreme leader and say there wasn’t really much need for that softer tone because now we have more bargaining chips in our hands. Iran is the only power in the region which can actually fight Isis and the west needs us for that.”

Meir Litvak, an Israeli expert on Iran, sees both genuine belief and posturing in Tehran’s stance. “The Iranians believe they have been able to save the Assad regime from total collapse and there is at least stalemate in Syria,” he said. “That means they have been able to maintain the link with Hezbollah and maybe open a second front by proxy against Israel on the Golan Heights. The Houthi rebellion in Yemen was initially a genuinely domestic affair but the Iranian regime saw it as an opportunity. And it has become a bonus for it – even if they are not that active inYemen. But if the Saudis are scared that’s a plus for the Iranians.”

Arab diplomatic sources say they expect to see an IRGC and Hezbollah presence in Yemen, helped by a new agreement on regular flights between Tehran and Sana’a.

Iran’s role in Bahrain, where the Shia majority remains locked in confrontation with the Saudi-backed Sunni monarchy, is more about scoring propaganda points than material support – despite claims in Manama about Iran’s sinister role.

Still, in the heartlands of Iranian influence, Iraq and Syria, there have been significant costs as well as benefits, including the deaths of two senior IRGC commanders. Continuing sanctions and low oil prices – seen in Tehran as a deliberate strategy by the Saudis – have also made it harder to shell out billions of dollars to subsidise the Assad regime.

Iran’s great advantage, suggests Emile Hokayem, an analyst, is its commitment and competence, in Syria and beyond. “The expertise, experience and strategic patience it deployed in support of the Syrian regime to a great extent facilitated Assad’s recovery from serious setbacks in 2012. In contrast, the war in Syria has exposed not only the political and operational limitations of the Gulf states, but also the rivalries among them.”

US-Saudi summit in Riyadh to deal with pivotal issues of oil prices, Iran and Yemen

January 24, 2015

US-Saudi summit in Riyadh to deal with pivotal issues of oil prices, Iran and Yemen, DEBKAfile, January 24, 2015

He will want to clear the air most urgently on three controversial items of burning interest to both leaders: Riyadh’s flat opposition to the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran and skepticism in the face of Obama’s conviction that a comprehensive accord will curtail the Islamic Republic’s drive for a nuclear weapon.

(Only if King Salman is truly demented would he agree with Obama on Iran and oil prices. Increases in Saudi oil production have hurt Iran while Obama’s Iran scam and relief from sanctions continue to help it. — DM)

Obama_King_Salman_bin_Abdulaziz__27.1.15Past meeting between President Barack Obama and King Salman, then Crown Prince

President Barack Obama, having decided to cut short the third day of his India visit, will arrive in Riyadh Tuesday, Jan. 27 with the First Lady, to offer US condolences on the death of King Abdullah and hold critical talks with his successor, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz.

He will want to clear the air most urgently on three controversial items of burning interest to both leaders: Riyadh’s flat opposition to the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran and skepticism in the face of Obama’s conviction that a comprehensive accord will curtail the Islamic Republic’s drive for a nuclear weapon.

Next, the US leader will try and persuade the new Saudi ruler to slow down oil production in order to put the brakes on plunging prices, an example which other OPEC members are sure to follow.

Finally, Obama and Salman must decide how to handle the fall of Yemen into the hands of Shiite Houthi rebels, who have seized the capital Sanaa with Iranian support and brought down the US-Saudi-sponsored president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Two secondary issues will be the struggle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the oil kingdom’s back yard, in which the US and Saudi Arabia are coalition partners; and the situation in the Syrian conflict.

Since this is an outsize agenda for one meeting, DEBKAfile’s sources in Washington and the Gulf expect Obama to focus in his initial encounter with Salman on the broad lines of the nuclear Iran dispute and oil prices. Detailed discussions on these and other issues will be set aside for US and Saudi officials of lower rank to hammer out in the coming weeks, as the new king begins to take hold of the reins of government.

A number of Middle East leaders will be following the outcome of this Riyadh summit with bated breath. Many are worried that Obama may persuade the new monarch to play ball with his Middle East policies, so effecting a radical reversal of the late Abdullah’s stance of flat opposition to Obama’s tactics in the region, aside from isolated cases.

A decision by Salman to accept America’s lead on the Iranian nuclear question and oil prices would be a serious blow for the anti-US Arab front, spearheaded hitherto by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and some of the Gulf emirates. It would also be a setback for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s fight against Obama’s nuclear diplomacy for Iran. This policy was underpinned by the Saudi-Egyptian political and military partnership that aimed at stalling the deal crafted by Washington, which purported to lay to rest the nuclear controversy with Iran.

Can Saudi King Salman Remember Where the Throne Is Sitting?

January 23, 2015

Can Saudi King Salman Remember Where the Throne Is Sitting? The Jewish PressTzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, January 23, 2015

Saudi-king-abdullah-with-crown-prince-Salman-300x181Salman, now the king, speaks to the late King Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia’s new king Salam has fits of dementia, which means that although he is very popular and known for doing wonders for Riyadh, he might not be sitting on the throne for very long.

“He can perform quite well for a few minutes, but then he gets muddled and goes off message,” according to Simon Henderson, an authority on Saudi Arabia at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, quoted by The Washington Post

King Salam is a half-brother to King Abdullah, who died late Thursday night. Salam ruled Riyadh for 48 years and is credited for making peace in the royal family and for turning the capital into a modern metropolis.

There are more secrets locked up in the royal palace than there is factual information, but all sources agree that King Salam suffers from dementia.

Considering that Saudi Arabia is the heavyweight in the Sunni Muslim world and in oil markets, that could be a big problem when it comes to determining the price of oil and the strategies to defeat the Islamic State and block Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon on its way to turning the entire Middle East into a fanatic Shia Islamic Caliphate.

If he can’t remember what the price of oil was yesterday, or which victim the ISIS beheaded today, there is bound to be a frenzy of back-palace politicking over who will take charge.

If the new king can remember that he has dementia, he might remove himself and clear the way for a new king from a younger generation of princes.