Biden defends inaction against Saudi crown prince in killing
As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised to make a pariah out of Saudi Arabia over the 2018 murder of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. But when it came time to actually penalize Saudi Arabias crown prince, Americas strategic interests prevailed. Biden, in an ABC News interview that aired Wednesday, discussed his administration's decision to exempt Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from any penalties for the Oct. 2, 2018, killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence, in a report released Feb. 26, concluded that the crown prince authorized the team of Saudi security and intelligence officials that killed Khashoggi. Rights groups and some journalists organizations criticized the decision not to punish the crown prince, saying it signaled impunity for the royal and other authoritarian leaders in the future.
Ties with Saudis at stake as US releases findings on killing
President Joe Biden is expected to speak to Saudi King Salman for the first time in Bidens just over a month-old administration. The language came in contrast to Biden's pledge as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia “a pariah” over the killing. The Saudi Arabia Embassy spokesman in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. U.S. intelligence findings are coming out more than two years after Khashoggi walked hand-in-hand with his fiancee to the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Once in office, Biden said he would maintain whatever scale of relations with Saudi Arabia that U.S. interests required.
Three Saudi youths get prison sentence instead of death
FILE - In this March 22, 2018, file photo, an honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia, in Washington. Three young Saudi men who faced death sentences for acts they were accused of committing as minors have been handed a 10-year prison sentence instead, the Saudi Human Rights Commission said. The move comes nearly a year after Saudi Arabia ordered an end to the death penalty for crimes committed by minors. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)DUBAI – Three young Saudi men who faced death sentences for acts they were accused of committing as minors have been handed a 10-year prison sentence instead, the Saudi Human Rights Commission said. “But other young people like Ali are still facing the death penalty for childhood ‘crimes’ in Saudi Arabia.
EXPLAINER: What US ending Saudi war support means for Yemen
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and other countries, entered the war alongside Yemen’s internationally recognized government in March 2015. AdIran, seeing the opportunity to aid a war of attrition against rival Saudi Arabia, has backed the Houthis. AdMeanwhile, the U.S. sold bombs and fighter jets to Saudi Arabia that the kingdom later used in strikes on Yemen that also killed civilians. America also has deployed U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia after it came under a drone-and-missile attack in 2019 that temporarily halved its oil output. Biden's announcement appeared designed to put new pressure on Saudi Arabia to end its coalition campaign there.
Pariah with benefits: US aiding Saudi defense despite chill
(AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden laid out a tougher line on Saudi Arabia than any U.S. president in decades. He said he would make the kingdom “pay the price” for human rights abuses and “make them in fact the pariah that they are.”But if Biden is making Saudi Arabia a pariah now, it's a pariah with benefits. U.S. leaders also see Saudi Arabia as a regional counterweight to Iran. The administration already had said it was pausing the Trump administration's sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. AdInternational criticism of Saudi Arabia has mounted since 2015, under King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Gulf Arab leaders sign declaration to ease rift with Qatar
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters after the summit that diplomatic relations would be restored in full with Qatar, although no time frame was given. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are primarily concerned about Qatar’s ties with Iran. The rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha has been deepest, with the UAE and Qatar at sharp ideological odds. Egypt’s foreign minister also attended the meeting of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Qatar's only land border with Saudi Arabia, which it relied on for the import of dairy products, construction materials and other goods, has been mostly closed since June 2017.
Saudi Arabia to lift Qatar embargo, easing the Gulf crisis
The Saudi border, which Qatar relied on for the import of dairy products, construction materials and other goods, opened briefly during the past three years to allow Qataris into Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic hajj pilgrimage. The rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha has been deepest, with the UAE and Qatar at sharp ideological odds. This year, Egypt’s president has also been invited to attend the summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. “Saudi Arabia could frame a partial détente, which allows Qatari civilian planes to fly over Saudi airspace and de-escalates the information war, as proof of ‘new thinking’ in Riyadh,” Ramani said ahead of the announcement. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are primarily concerned with Qatar's close ties with regional foe Iran.
Saudi prince strongly criticizes Israel at Bahrain summit
DUBAI – A prominent Saudi prince harshly criticized Israel on Sunday at a Bahrain security summit that was remotely attended by Israel's foreign minister, showing the challenges any further deals between Arab states and Israel face in the absence of an independent Palestinian state. Israel has “incarcerated (Palestinians) in concentration camps under the flimsiest of security accusations — young and old, women and men, who are rotting there without recourse to justice," Prince Turki said. Prince Turki led Saudi intelligence for more than 20 years and served as ambassador to the U.S. and United Kingdom. Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, also on stage for the tense exchanges, sought to smooth over the differences in his remarks. Still, he too stressed the importance of a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on a two-state solution as envisaged by the Arab Peace Initiative.
G-20 summit ends with support for COVID-19 vaccines for all
European Council President Charles Michel, on screen bottom, participates in a virtual G20 meeting, hosted by Saudi Arabia, at the European Council building in Brussels, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. The G-20 expressed support for efforts like COVAX, an international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Sunday in Berlin after the virtual summit that Germany had given financial support to the COVAX initiative, but that more money was needed. Saudi Arabia presided over the G-20 this year and was host of the virtual summit, which was originally intended to be held in-person in Riyadh before the pandemic. G-20 countries are allowing low-income countries with unsustainable debts to apply for permanent debt relief on a case-by-case basis.
G-20 summit opens as leaders urge united response to virus
While G-20 countries have contributed billions of dollars toward developing a vaccine for the virus, they have also mostly focused on securing their own vaccine supplies. Guterres called on more G-20 nations to join COVAX, an international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide. Three G-20 leaders participating in the summit have been infected by the coronavirus this year: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Trump. The International Labor Organization says an equivalent of 225 million full-time jobs were lost in G-20 countries alone in the third quarter of 2020. As part of the summit, seven leaders released video messages on “Pandemic Preparedness and Response”.
Officials: Blast at WWI ceremony in Saudi Arabia wounds 3
PARIS – An explosion at a Saudi cemetery where American and European officials were commemorating the end of World War I wounded three people Wednesday, according to official statements. A Saudi security officer was also lightly wounded, Saudi state media quoted a local official as saying. France has urged its citizens in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries to be “on maximum alert” amid the heightened tensions. Wednesday marked the 102nd anniversary of the armistice ending World War I and is commemorated in several European countries. In 1916, during World War I, Ottoman troops surrendered to the local troops backed by the British in Jiddah, a Red Sea port city.
World leaders hope for fresh start after Biden win
Other leaders who supported Trump, including President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, congratulated Biden, indicating they rejected Trump’s claim the election wasn’t over. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia told reporters he looked forward to a “great partnership” with Washington. Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he looked forward to working together to end illegal tax havens and on peacemaking in Afghanistan. Others expressed hope Biden will help to heal divisions in American society and global politics. Prime Minister Janez Jansa was the only leader who congratulated Trump even before all votes were counted and showed support after Biden’s win was announced.
Saudi Arabia: G-20 gathering of world leaders to be virtual
DUBAI – Saudi Arabia, which is presiding over the Group of 20 countries this year, said Monday that the upcoming November gathering of world leaders will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic. Saudi Arabia said the virtual summit Nov. 21-22 will be chaired by King Salman. The leaders of the G-20 last met virtually in March in a session hosted by King Salman. Rights groups and others had called for world leaders to boycott the summit in Saudi Arabia due to Khashoggi's killing, the kingdom’s human rights record and its continued detention of activists. Failing that, she said, it should be made conditional that Saudi Arabia releases imprisoned women’s rights defenders, human rights activists, journalists and others.
World leaders criticize haphazard response to pandemic
Member state flags fly outside the United Nations headquarters during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. This year's annual gathering of world leaders at U.N. headquarters will be almost entirely "virtual." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)TANZANIA – World leaders gathering remotely Wednesday criticized a haphazard global response to a microscopic virus that has unleashed economic havoc and taken nearly 1 million lives in its march across the globe. In the words of Kazakhstan’s president, it was “a critical collapse of global cooperation.”“Our world has been turned upside down,” said Ghana's president, Nana Akufo-Addo. Switzerland's President Simonetta Sommaruga, one of the few women leaders to speak, said the pandemic “has caused untold suffering in the world," with the most vulnerable hit hardest.
Saudi king's rare address to UN showcases monarch in charge
In this image made from UNTV video, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at UN headquarters. In delivering his remarks, he became only the second Saudi king to deliver a speech to the world assembly. And like his brother's speech 63 years prior, King Salman noted the sacred role of Islam in Saudi Arabia and the importance that entails. Saudi rivals Turkey and Iran also profess to champion Muslim causes worldwide as part of a broader struggle for leadership of Muslims globally. King Salman has backed his son by elevating him from near obscurity and handing him day-to-day decision making powers.
World leaders who skipped past UN meetings get their moment
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has good reason not to travel to New York for the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders. A virtual General Assembly knows no national borders, incurs no travel expenses and allows even the most cautious, prickly or paranoid leaders to have their say without leaving their at-home security bubbles. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte spoke to the General Assembly for the first time in his four years in office. The allegations are likely to be brought up repeatedly at the virtual assembly. Tanzania’s John Magufuli will speak as he seeks a second term in an election next month in which opposition leaders say they’ve faced government obstruction at every turn.
Israeli, US delegations depart to UAE in 1st direct flight
But unlike those two nations, Israel has never fought a war against the UAE and hopes to have much-warmer relations. The American delegation includes President Donald Trumps senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as national security adviser Robert OBrien, Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and envoy for Iran Brian Hook. Israel will be represented by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and the director generals of several ministries, who will meet with their Emirati counterparts. The El Al flight, numbered LY971 as a gesture to the UAEs international calling code number, is expected to fly over Saudi Arabian airspace. Any long-term flights between Israel and the UAE would require Saudi clearance to be profitable.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman admitted to hospital for tests
DUBAI Saudi Arabias King Salman has been admitted to a hospital in the capital, Riyadh, for medical tests due to inflammation of the gallbladder, the kingdoms Royal Court said Monday in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. King Salman has been in power since January 2015. He is considered the last Saudi monarch of his generation of brothers who have held power since the death of their father and founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz. King Salman has empowered his 34-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his successor. King Salman, who oversees Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, was crown prince under King Abdullah and served as defense minister.
The Latest: India's infections soaring in rural areas
(AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)NEW DELHI Indias coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas to which migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks. Indias government planning body Niti Aayog says infections have now emerged in 98 out of 112 of the countrys poorest districts. The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought the national caseload to 12,438 cases, including 280 deaths. ___SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- An inmate from Avenal State Prison in California has died from what appear to be complications from the coronavirus. Its the first death at Avenal State Prison in Kings County, where 131 inmates have tested positive for the virus.