US praises Saudi Arabia for countering violent extremism and terrorism in report

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The United States State Department Wednesday praised Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the Vision 2030 package that calls for confronting and weakening terrorist propaganda, according to statements made in its annual report on terrorism.

The “Country Reports on Terrorism 2019,” which is the annual report of terrorism from the State Department to Congress saw a shift in US policy stance toward Saudi Arabia, recognizing and praising the Kingdom’s countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts in the State Department’s annual report this year.

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“Saudi Arabia has recently initiated lines of CVE effort to foster reform and regulate religious activities,” according to the report.

“The Muslim World League Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, pressed a message of interfaith dialogue, religious tolerance, and peaceful coexistence with global religious authorities, including Muslim imams outside the Arab world. He also conducted outreach with a variety of Jewish and Christian leaders, including prominent US rabbis and Christian evangelicals,” the report added.

High-level Muslim World League delegation led by MWL Secretary General Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, during an interfaith visit to Auschwitz. (Supplied)
High-level Muslim World League delegation led by MWL Secretary General Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, during an interfaith visit to Auschwitz. (Supplied)

The State Department report also highlighted the Kingdom’s role in fighting ISIS.

“As in previous years, Saudi Arabia was a full partner and active participant in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and provided significant operational and logistical support for Coalition activities in Syria and Iraq. Saudi operations in Yemen included CT missions against AQAP and ISIS.

"Saudi Arabia’s regional diplomatic efforts to fight terrorism saw a strong uptick in 2019, as the country partnered with several nations on a bilateral and regional basis to improve information sharing related to CT activities," the report said.

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Nevertheless, the report noted that Saudi Arabia suffered from several terrorist incidents in 2019, including those by Iranian and Houthi actors. One example in the report was the June 12 cross-border cruise missiles attack on Abha International Airport that led to 26 civilians being injured. Yemen's Houthi militia, backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Other attacks claimed by the Iranian-backed militia came on August 17 against a natural gas liquids plant at the Shaybah oilfield before another attack on September 14 by Iran hit the Abqaiq and Khurais oil processing facilities, the report said.

"Although Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants claimed responsibility for the attack, investigations led by Saudi Arabia and the United States concluded the Iranian government was behind the attack," the State Department report said.

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