First Published: 2017-10-16

Saudi Arabia sets conditions to role in Syria reconstruction
Saudi Arabia expressed readiness to play a key role in Syria’s reconstruc­tion efforts but only under the right conditions.
Middle East Online

Members of the Russian delegation meet with members of the Saudi delegation

Russia received a condi­tional pledge of support for Syria’s post-war re­construction efforts from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during his recent visit to the Kremlin, high-level Rus­sian diplomatic sources said.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that Saudi Arabia expressed readiness to play a key role in Syria’s reconstruc­tion efforts but only under the right conditions.

King Salman told Russian Presi­dent Vladimir Putin that Riyadh was not prepared to invest funds neces­sary to serve Iran and its militias, which have a significant presence in the war-torn country.

He said any talk of reconstruction must come after a political solution is reached by the Syrian people without exter­nal interference, the sources added.

King Salman also said Iran must “stop meddling in internal affairs of the countries of the region and halt its activities to destabilise the situa­tion in the region.”

Moscow is relying on the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia due to its political and economic influence, to play a major role in Syria’s recon­struction, the sources said.

Russia pledged to end foreign presence in the Syrian territories once military escalation is checked in various regions and terrorist groups are eliminated, said the sources, who added that any prior solution would only serve the inter­ests of Iran at the expense of other countries in the region.

The Saudi response was: “We will contribute to the reconstruction of Syria when a new government and regime is in place to achieve stabil­ity and create a means of under­standing with all components of Syrian society and restoring Syria to the embrace of the Arabs,” the source added.

Saudi Arabia and Russia plan to work together to unify Syria’s frag­mented opposition leading up to Syria’s political process, Saudi For­eign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said during the trip.

Speaking at a Kremlin news brief­ing, Jubeir said that both Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed on the need to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and state institutions and affirmed the principle of non-inter­ference in other countries’ internal affairs and the principle of territo­rial integrity.

Vladimir Akhmedov, a senior re­searcher at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, said Russia’s focus on the future role of Saudi Arabia in Syria goes beyond finances.

“Moscow is keen on a pivotal role for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf part­ners based on the ability of these countries to give legitimacy to the Syrian solution, as well as Moscow’s desire that the next solution will be a lasting one that creates stability,” Akhmedov said.

King Salman’s trip to Moscow, the first by a Saudi monarch, was con­sidered a major success.

Among the deals announced in Moscow was a memorandum of un­derstanding on the purchase of Rus­sia’s S-400 air defence system.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally looked to the United States and the United Kingdom for its military sup­plies but, with the security situation in the Gulf, Riyadh has increased military spending and sought alter­native suppliers such as Russia and China.

Also signed during the king’s visit was a deal to allow the production of Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles in the kingdom, which could create thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia.

“The agreements also include ed­ucational and training programmes for Saudi nationals to ensure the sustainability and development of the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia,” a statement by Saudi Arabia Military Industries said.

“These agreements are expected to have tangible economic contribu­tions and create hundreds of direct jobs. It will also transfer cutting-edge technologies that will act as a catalyst for localising 50% of the kingdom’s military spending as tar­geted by Vision 2030.”

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

 

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues