In last weeks televised address and statements which followed, Saudi Arabia’s government outlined their highest priorities in domestic and foreign policy. King Salman outlined that he would defend Muslims and Arabs, going even further to say that a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is his first priority.
In his first major speech after ascending the throne, it was expected Salman would give a hint towards what his government’s rule will look like. After mentioning Palestine as his first priority, he stressed the importance of the international community abiding by current laws and blasted any attempts of foreign intervention in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs. He then expressed his desire for security and stability in the world, committing himself thereafter to resolving differences through diplomacy and not violence.
‘Defence of Arab and Islamic causes – at the top of which is the legitimate right of the Palestinians to a state, with Jerusalem as its capital, will remain at the top of Saudi Arabia’s priority’
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel have remained frozen since the Arab-Israeli wars. The nuclear armed nation Israel, whose army is three times the size of Saudi Arabia’s army, has often retorted to military action over diplomacy, which perhaps explains why last year Saudi Arabia spent nearly four times more than Israel on military expenditure.
Many European countries have recently voted in favour of Palestinian statehood which caused worry in Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu began pressuring the UN and other countries to not recognise Palestine. Towards the end of the Israeli election, Netanyahu swore he would never allow a Palestinian state and would not stop building illegal settlements.
King Salman seems to have weighed in to defend Palestinians at the right time in the face of far right extremists taking over the Israeli government. Last month King Salman welcomed the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for brief talks in Riyadh.
The King then went on to attack the rise of terrorism in the world and pledged Saudi Arabia would fight against terrorism in all its forms. He said
“The kingdom is focused on the fight against extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its sources, and on cooperation with brotherly and friendly countries and the international organisations in the fight against this detestable menace, and in seeking to eradicate its roots and causes”
The country borders Iraq where Islamic State have gained control over some major parts of the country and ruling by some barbaric laws which all Muslims have deemed unislamic. Saudi Arabia has often been the victim of terrorism and has been instrumental in dismantling terror organisations across the world.
When Salman became King he ordered sustainable renewable energy to be explored, despite being the world’s largest exporter of oil – a non-renewable energy source. He echoed this message again and said Saudi shared a responsibility with the world.
“We are part of this world and face its problems and challenges. We all share this responsibility and will actively contribute to putting solutions for many urgent international issues, including environmental issues and the promotion of sustainable development.”
King Salman’s speech was welcomed warmly across Saudi Arabia but also across the Muslim World.