Leader with a mission

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, who has completed the first 100 days of his reign, has a distinguished track record as an international leader from the Arab world. Whether as a Saudi monarch since Jan. 23 this year, or as Riyadh governor, minister of defense, crown prince and deputy premier for nearly six decades, he played stellar roles in these respective capacities with single-minded devotion.

His sole objective overall has been to promote socio-economic stability at home and raise the Kingdom’s stature abroad as a regional power for peace and progress. No wonder, international leaders seek his active role in dealing with the situation created by Iranian-instigated civil war in Yemen, and elsewhere in the Middle East as well as in troubled spots across the world.

The high-profile visits of French President Francois Hollande to Riyadh on May 4 and US Secretary of State John Kerry for talks with King Salman underline his growing international stature. Both King Salman and President Hollande discussed the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya besides bilateral and regional issues. The French President later attended the GCC consultative summit in Riyadh as a guest of honor.

France, a close ally of the Kingdom, has been supporting the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. The two leaders focused on the ongoing crisis in Yemen and the possible Iranian nuclear deal by the end of June. Saudi Arabia and the GCC member states fear that the deal and the subsequent easing of sanctions could further encourage Iran to pursue its agenda.

On Yemen, Saudi Arabia and France have a common stance. They support the GCC initiative in favor of holding unity talks in Riyadh between competing political forces of Yemen. The GCC foreign ministers at their recent meeting also insisted that the talks be held in Saudi Arabia, which leads an Arab coalition that has been bombing the rebels in Yemen since late March.

The Riyadh parleys were a follow-up to those held in September 2014, when Prince Salman as crown prince visited Paris and held talks with President Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls on major regional and international issues, including the threat posed by Islamic State (IS) militants to global peace and stability.

Following his ascent to the throne, King Salman has reiterated the Kingdom’s opposition to terrorism. “Saudi Arabia realized the danger posed by terrorism to the international community from early on,” he told French leaders. In his talks with US President Barack Obama and later with Secretary of State John Kerry on several occasions, the two sides dwelt on regional conflicts that are hampering efforts to restore peace and security in the Middle East.

Kerry, who arrived from Kenya, stayed in the Saudi capital for two days for wide-ranging consultations with his Gulf counterparts before he left for Paris. According to Stewart Wight, spokesman of the US Embassy in Riyadh, his talks with Saudi and other Gulf foreign ministers focused on regional security and cooperation. The Saudi-led coalition is exerting efforts to restore peace in Yemen and to install the legitimate government in Sanaa.

In fact, Riyadh witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activities during the last 100 days, when King Salman has had wide-ranging talks with dozens of world leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi. The Egyptian president also visited Riyadh this month and had talks with the king on key regional issues especially after the Saudi-led coalition halted the Operation Decisive Storm.

King Salman’s wide-ranging consultations on bilateral and regional issues with heads of state like Omar Bashir, Sudanese president; Ashraf Ghani, Afghan president; John Key, New Zealand prime minister; Victor-Viorel Ponta, Romanian premier; Nawaz Sharif, Pakistani prime minister; Ilham Aliyev, Sigmar Gabriel, German vice chancellor; Azeri president; and Macky Sall, Sengalese president; speak volumes of his diplomacy and his visionary approach.

The king has also exchanged views on key regional and international issues with top UN officials and other royalties, including Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general; and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne; during the first three months of his reign. The talks with the UN officials as well as with the royal family members of other countries were mainly intended to find amicable solutions to restore peace in different regions and nations across the world.

His stance on key regional and international issues have won commendations from several heads of states he met during the last 100 days. His handling of Yemen crisis especially after the arrival of legitimate Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Riyadh deserve all praise. He stood firm on the issue and supervised the historic Operation Decisive Storm that raised the stature of the Kingdom to a new level.

In all his discourses with the world leaders, King Salman has evinced keen desire to secure peace and security in the Middle East. In the ultimate analysis, King Salman’s role in restoring peace and stability in the Middle East as well as growth and development at home recalls the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, American statesman and also the sixth president of the United States, who said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”


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