RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia will strike those who threaten the kingdom’s security and stability with an “iron fist”, the crown prince said on Thursday, one day after an attack on a Remembrance Day ceremony injured two in the kingdom.
Islamic State claimed Wednesday’s attack on a non-Muslim cemetery in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah during a World War One remembrance ceremony involving French and other embassies. The group provided no evidence for the claim.
“We will continue to hit with an iron fist against anyone who thinks of threatening our security and stability,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, said in a speech carried by Saudi state news agency SPA.
Wednesday’s attack occurred two weeks after a Saudi man wounded a security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah with what has been described as a “sharp tool” and after recent Islamist militant attacks in France and Austria.
Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is committed to confronting extremism, and rejects and condemns all terrorist acts.
He said actual terror attacks in the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter and a key U.S. ally, had “fallen to near zero” following a restructuring of the interior ministry and reforming of the security sector that began in mid-2017.
Prince Mohammed became heir to the throne following a palace coup in 2017 that ousted the then-crown prince.
The prince also said the kingdom would continue to combat corruption after the state recovered 247 billion riyals ($65.86 billion) in settlements in addition to assets worth tens of billions of riyals in the past three years. [L1N2HY2L6]
In January 2019 Saudi Arabia ended a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in which many members of the kingdom’s economic and political elite were detained.
Critics saw the crackdown as a power grab by the crown prince, who has moved to sideline any rivals to his eventual succession to the throne. Prince Mohammed has defended the campaign as “shock therapy” as he tries to overhaul the economy.
($1 = 3.7504 riyals)
(Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Alaa Swilam, writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Alexandra Hudson)