Messi Scores On Argentina Return To Sink Brazil

 

Lionel Messi struck on his return to international duty Friday following a three-month ban as Argentina defeated fierce rivals Brazil 1-0 in a friendly in Riyadh.

The Barcelona forward was suspended by CONMEBOL for accusing South American football’s ruling body of “corruption” after he was sent off in July’s third-place play-off with Chile at the Copa America.

Messi netted the only goal of the game at the King Saud University Stadium on 13 minutes, tapping home the rebound after his penalty was saved by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson.

His effort came shortly after Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus rolled a spot-kick wide for Brazil, who were playing without the injured Neymar.

Messi, who scored with a pair of free-kicks in his last game with Barcelona, twice threatened from set pieces in the second half before Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson beat away a powerful drive from Paredes.

Rodrygo, the 18-year-old who scored a sensational Champions League hat-trick with Real Madrid this month, made his Brazil debut as he replaced Willian for the final 20 minutes.

However, Brazil were unable to find an equaliser as their winless run since capturing the Copa America title extended to five matches.

The meeting between the two South American giants was the second in Saudi Arabia in little over a year. Brazil beat Argentina 1-0 in Jeddah in October 2018.

Brazil also defeated Argentina 2-0 at home in the semi-finals of this year’s Copa America, a controversial match that left Messi complaining the hosts had benefited from favouritism.

Brazil will play a friendly against South Korea in Abu Dhabi on November 19, in their final game before South American qualifying starts for the 2022 World Cup in March.

Saudi Oil Attacks An Iranian ‘Act Of War’, Says Pompeo

 

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure as an “act of war” on Wednesday, as Riyadh unveiled new evidence it said showed the assault was “unquestionably” sponsored by arch-foe Iran.

The comments raise the risk of a wider conflict in the tinderbox Gulf region after the weekend strikes on the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry knocked out half its production, rattling energy markets.

“This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo told reporters on his plane before landing in the western city of Jeddah, calling it “an act of war”.

“This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before.”

His comment came as Saudi Arabia displayed what it said were fragments of 25 drones and cruise missiles fired at two facilities in the country’s east, engulfing them in flames.

“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” defence ministry spokesman Turki al-Maliki said.

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Tehran-linked Huthi rebels in the kingdom’s southern neighbour Yemen have claimed responsibility, but both Washington and Riyadh have ruled that out.

“We are working to know the exact launch point,” Maliki said.

But he would not be drawn on whether Saudi officials believed Iran would ultimately be found to be the culprit.

Pompeo said there was no evidence for media reports the attacks had been launched from Iraq — caught between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.

Diplomats at the United Nations said experts were expected in the kingdom to lead an international inquiry.

Pompeo met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah to discuss a response to the strike, which took out six percent of global supplies.

Meanwhile, the Huthis threatened to hit “dozens of targets” in the United Arab Emirates, part of a Saudi-led coalition against the rebels.

‘We don’t want war’

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP the administration has concluded the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran, and said evidence would be presented at the UN General Assembly next week.

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated President Donald Trump’s comments that “we don’t want war with anybody, but the United States is prepared.”

Trump, who has already re-imposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy, promised on Wednesday to “substantially increase” the measures, winning quick praise from Riyadh.

He said details would be given within 48 hours.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, himself under US sanctions since July 31, described the measures as “illegal” and “inhuman”.

Trump’s move was an “admission that (the) US is DELIBERATELY targeting ordinary citizens,” he said on Twitter.

The apparent hardening of the US position came as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out negotiations with Washington “at any level”.

That appeared to nix hopes for a dramatic meeting between Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations next week.

Late Wednesday, the United States still had not issued Rouhani and his delegation with visas to attend the meeting in New York, Iranian state media said.

Maliki said Saturday’s attack did not originate from Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is locked in a prolonged conflict with the Huthis, “despite Iran’s efforts to make it appear so”.

He said the strike was beyond the capabilities of the militia — who have however mounted dozens of smaller attacks on Saudi territory.

“The precision impact of the cruise missile” indicated advanced capabilities beyond those of the Huthis, he added.

Oil prices rocked

Observers say the Saudi experience in Yemen, where despite their vast firepower they have failed to subdue the ragtag but highly motivated militia, has made Riyadh circumspect about wading into another conflict.

“I certainly hope we’re not” going to have a war, Riyadh’s ambassador to London Prince Khalid bin Bandar told the BBC.

“We are trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region.”

Iran has backed Huthi claims of being behind the attack, and Rouhani said Wednesday it was a rebel “warning” about a possible wider war in response to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

State media said Tehran had written to Washington through the Swiss embassy on Monday, denying any role in attacks on Saudi installations and warning it would respond to any action against it.

Trump’s administration is considering responses including a cyber attack or a physical strike on Iranian oil infrastructure or its Revolutionary Guards, NBC News reported, citing unnamed US officials.

Oil prices have see-sawed since the attacks, with record gains Monday followed by a tumble Tuesday as the Saudi assurances on supplies soothed the markets.

OPEC Kingpin Saudi Arabia Replaces Energy Minister

 

 

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman named his son as energy minister after veteran official Khalid al-Falih was sacked, state media said Sunday, in a major shakeup as the OPEC kingpin reels from low oil prices.

The appointment of Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, half brother to de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes as Saudi Arabia prepares for a much-anticipated stock listing of state-owned oil giant Aramco.

“Khalid al-Falih has been removed from his position,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a royal decree.

“His royal highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is appointed minister of energy.”

The kingdom also replaced the deputy energy minister, SPA added.

Since his appointment as oil minister in 2016, Falih has been the face of Saudi energy policy but the veteran technocrat had seen his portfolio shrink in recent weeks.

His ouster comes just days after he was removed as chairman of Aramco as the company prepares for a much-touted initial public offering (IPO).

He was replaced in that post by Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of the kingdom’s vast Public Investment Fund.

Falih’s powers were diminished last month when the world’s top oil exporter announced the creation of a new ministry of industry and mineral resources, separating it from his energy ministry.

It was widely speculated there was dissatisfaction with Falih within the top levels of government over the low price of oil ahead of the Aramco IPO — even as the kingdom has continued to cut output to balance global demand.

‘Wealth of experience’

OPEC and its allies are scheduled to meet in Abu Dhabi on September 12 to review their strategy on limiting production to tackle a global supply glut and shore up prices.

It was unclear whether there would be a change in Saudi policy under Prince Abdulaziz, who joined the oil ministry in the 1980s and has served in a variety of senior positions.

“Prince Abdulaziz has been in the oil ministry for decades… He joined the oil ministry in the late 1980s and worked closely with the three previous oil ministers,” said Ali Shihabi, founder of the now-shuttered pro-Saudi think-tank Arabia Foundation.

“(He) has attended virtually every OPEC meeting since then so brings a wealth of institutional experience.”

His appointment further concentrates power within the family of King Salman. His other son Prince Mohammed controls all the major levers of power and is heir to the Arab world’s most powerful throne.

And his younger son, Prince Khalid bin Salman, serves as deputy defence minister.

Aramco is stepping up efforts to float around five percent of the company, in what could potentially be the world’s biggest stock sale.

It aims to raise up to $100 billion based on a $2 trillion valuation of the company, but amid low oil prices investors have debated whether Aramco is really worth that much.

Failure to reach a $2 trillion valuation as desired by Saudi rulers is widely considered the reason the IPO, earlier scheduled for 2018, has been delayed.

The planned IPO forms the cornerstone of a reform programme envisaged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to wean the Saudi economy off its reliance on oil.

Saudi Aramco has not announced where the listing will be held, but London, New York and Hong Kong have all vied for a slice of the much-touted IPO.

The oil giant is considering a two-stage IPO, with a domestic debut and a subsequent international listing possibly in Tokyo, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Iran Rejects ‘Provocative’ Saudi Accusations Over Missile

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. str / afp

Iran dismissed “irresponsible and provocative” accusations from regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia on Monday that it was responsible for a weekend missile attack on Riyadh launched from war-ravaged Yemen.

An Iranian foreign ministry statement quoted its spokesman Bahram Ghassemi as saying the accusations by the Saudi-led coalition were “unjust, irresponsible, destructive and provocative”.

Saudi forces intercepted and destroyed the ballistic missile launched on Saturday from Yemen, where the kingdom leads a coalition in support of the recognised government against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels.

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AFP

Melania Trump Visits American International School In Riyadh

First lady Melania Trump visited the American International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday (May 21).

Trump played with students and met with teachers as well as with Saudi Education Minister Ahmed Al-Eissa.

U.S. President Donald Trump had individual meetings with Arab leaders of Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait and Oman on Sunday on his second day of the visit to Saudi Arabia.

 

 

We Will Urgently Develop Agriculture, Buhari Tells Saudi Businessmen

BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that his administration was fully committed to increasing the productivity of Nigeria’s agriculture and solid minerals sectors.

This, he said will save the nation from the harsh effects of the lower crude oil prices.

Speaking at a meeting with leading members of the Council of Saudi Arabia’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh, President Buhari revealed that with declining revenues from crude oil exports, Nigeria’s hopes of economic resurgence now lie in the rapid development of its immense agricultural and solid mineral resources.

Inviting Saudi Arabian businessmen to invest in both sectors, the President said  his administration will welcome greater foreign investments in support of its efforts to rapidly diversify the Nigerian economy.

According to a statement from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said that Nigeria had regrettably depended too much on crude oil exports to the neglect of other resources and was now paying a harsh price for failing to diversify its economy early enough.

“With the downturn in the global prices of oil, we now have to protect our solid minerals. We have to return to agriculture.

“Mining and agriculture are our hopes now. We will welcome investments in these areas. We will appreciate an in-flow of more resources and expertise to help us achieve our objective of economic diversification,” the President said.

The Chairman of the Council of the Saudi Arabian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Abdulrahman Al Zamil, said that agriculture was a very important area of investment for its members, adding that they were already in Brazil, the United States of America and Sudan, “where we have huge farms.”

Declaring that they were willing to invest in Nigeria, Dr Abdulrahman Al Zamil said that the Saudis were the leading investors in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Part of the President’s delegations are the governors of Osun, Ogun, Katsina, Borno, and Zamfara States who took turns to address the Saudi Arabian businessmen on investment possibilities in their states, with the assurance of good returns.

Nigeria Partners S/Arabia On Security, Stable Oil Market

Buhari_Saudi
Photo credit @Saudi Gazette

President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated Nigeria’s support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its efforts to stop the spread of terror in the Middle East.

President Buhari said this on Tuesday at a meeting with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz in Riyadh, where the two leaders engaged in extensive discussions on regional and global issues.

President Buhari, who was making his first pronouncement on the invitation to join the coalition of Islamic States against terror, congratulated the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its formation.

“Even if we are not a part of it, we support you. I must thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the recent creation of a coalition to address the menace of international terrorism.

“Nigeria will support your efforts in keeping peace and stopping the spread of terror in your region. This is in consonance with our own commitment and ongoing efforts in seeking to stamp out Boko Haram terrorists from the West African sub-region and Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC),” the President said.

Problem Of Terrorism
Speaking on global terror generally, President Buhari stressed the need for various nations to come together to tackle the menace.

“International terrorism made a statement by attacking one of the advanced countries by carrying out an attack on Paris in which 130 were killed. Now we have to come together to find a common solution to the problem of terrorism,” he said.

The President also thanked the Saudi government for its continuing support to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.

President Buhari regretted that the late Libyan leader, Muammar Ghaddafi, recruited, trained and armed citizens of many states in the Sahel region, lamenting that with Ghaddafi’s fall, these mercenaries have returned to their countries, “doing nothing but to shoot and kill”.

He cited Burkina Faso and Mali as the main victims but expressed happiness that the countries neighbouring the Lake Chad have tightened their ranks to finish off the Boko Haram threat.

“Luckily, we have cultivated our neighbours. We are now working together against Boko Haram, otherwise the problem would have become worse,” he said.

In his remarks, King Salman commended the progress made by Nigeria in combating terrorism and promised to give further support and assistance.

He welcomed the support of the Nigerian government for the new anti-terrorism coalition and implored President Buhari to consider its full membership.

King Salman also pledged his full support and cooperation to Nigeria under its present leadership and directed all agencies of his government to follow up on the discussions.

“I now instruct my team to go and sit down with your relevant agencies to push forward cooperation between our states,” he said.

President Buhari and King Salman expressed hope that the Libyan factions would soon see reason to reunite and restore fully their own country so as to save the world from further terrorism spin-offs from that country.

Both leaders expressed commitment to a stable oil market and a rebound of oil prices.

They also focused on trade between their states and agreed to give fresh impetus to the joint commission previously established in order to boost commercial and other activities to unify their citizens.

Both Leaders ‘Committed’ To Oil Price Stability

The two leaders “committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilize the market and rebound the oil price”, Garba Shehu said in a statement.

The two leaders accepted the fact that their two economies are tied to oil, adding that all cannot be well with both countries when the world oil market is unstable, he added.

Oil Price Stability: President Buhari To Visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar

VacationPresident Muhammadu Buhari will begin a week-long official visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Monday, February 22, for talks with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and senior officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

High on the agenda of discussions between President Buhari and the Saudi Monarch, is the ongoing efforts by Nigeria and other members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to achieve greater stability in the price of crude oil exports.

In a statement on Sunday the spokesperson for the President said that President Buhari would be accompanied by a high-powered Federal Government delegation. The Minister of State (Petroleum) and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu will be part of the delegation.

The President will also fly to Riyadyh on Tuesday.

“Crude oil prices and market stability would also be on the front burner when President Buhari goes on to Doha on Saturday for talks with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,” the statement read.

The President is also scheduled to meet with leading Saudi and Qatari businessmen in Riyadh and Doha, and invite them to support his administration’s efforts to revamp the Nigerian economy by taking advantage of the great investment opportunities currently available in Nigeria’s mining, agriculture, power supply, infrastructure, transportation, communications and other sectors.

President Buhari’s other engagements in Saudi Arabia include meetings with Heads of International Financial Organisations and Multilateral Associations.

Before going on to Doha, the President will also visit Medina and Mecca to pray for greater peace, prosperity and progress in Nigeria.

India Woman’s Arm ‘Cut Off By Employer’ In Saudi Arabia

India woman, Kasturi MunirathinamIndia has filed a complaint to the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following an alleged “brutal” attack on a 58-year-old Indian woman in Riyadh.

Reports said that Kasturi Munirathinam’s right arm was chopped off, allegedly by her employer, when she tried to escape from their house.

Mrs Munirathinam had gone to Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic help only three months back.

Her family has alleged that she was being tortured by her Saudi employers.

Her relatives in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district claimed that they learnt about the incident “through agents who sent her to Saudi Arabia”. They also said that they had a mobile phone video of her.

The Foreign Ministry said that the Indian embassy in Riyadh had taken up the case with the Saudi Foreign Office and asked for ‘attempt to murder’ charges against Mrs Munirathinam’s employer.

Mrs Munirathinam has been recovering in a hospital.

Saudi authorities have not commented on the incident yet.