Saudi Cabinet expresses regret over continued violence in Syria, stresses need to stem bloodshed

Defense Minister Prince Salman meets chief of staff of French ground troops

Cabinet assigns Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khaled Bin Sultan to undertake tasks of deputy chairman of the board of General Organization for Military Industries

King of Bahrain issues royal decree to set up fund for compensations to persons harmed by security incidents

Bahraini Cabinet issues law criminalizing assaults on security men

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session which was held at Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh.

At the outset of the session, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed the Cabinet on discussions, messages and contacts he made over the last week with a number of State leaders on the latest regional and international developments, including the message he received from Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also briefed the Cabinet on the telephone call he received from King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, Dr. Youssef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Minister of Social Affairs and Acting Minister of Culture and Information, said the Cabinet reviewed a number of reports on the latest Arab, regional and international developments, lauding the statement issued by the 4th Joint Ministerial Meeting for Strategic Dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States and Turkey which stressed the depth of relations between both sides and the joint desire to enhance cooperation as this will have a positive impact on the peace and stability of the region.

The Cabinet also discussed the decision of the Arab League suspending immediately its monitoring mission in Syria due to escalation of violence and increase in number of deaths and injuries.

The Cabinet expressed the Kingdom's regret for the continuation of violence and increase of civilian casualties, stressing the importance of concerted efforts to stop bloodshed at once and meet the legitimate demands and aspirations of the people of Syria.

Dr. Al-Othaimeen said the Cabinet discussed the visits, activities and participations made by some Saudi official delegations to some capitals, including the Saudi delegation, led by Minister of Justice, to Washington; the Saudi delegation, led by Minister of Commerce and Industry, to the Trade Policy Review of the Kingdom in the World Trade Organization in Geneva; and the opening of the exhibition of 'Hajj .. Journey to the Heart of Islam' in London, and exhibition of 'The Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces through the Ages' in Berlin.

The Cabinet expressed thanks to and appreciation of the officials in these events for reflecting the progress and development of the Kingdom at all levels.

Dr. Youssef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen said the Cabinet then discussed issues on its domestic agenda and issued the following decisions:

The Cabinet assigned the Deputy Minister of Defense to become Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Organization for Military Industries instead of the Assistant Minister of Defense for Military Affairs.

The Cabinet reshuffled the board of directors of National Commission for Wildlife for a once-renewable period of three years as follows:

1- Chairman of the National Commission for Wildlife as Chairman

2- Representative of the Ministry of Interior (Member)

3- Representative of the Ministry of Defense(Member)

4- Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Member)

5- Representative of the Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs (Member)

6- Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture (Member)

7- Representative of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (Member)

8- Representative of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (Member)

Four Members are to be appointed by the Cabinet.

The Cabinet authorized the Minister of Foreign Affairs -or his deputy- to discuss with the Afghan side a draft agreement on general cooperation between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Cabinet authorized President General of Youth Welfare -or his deputy- to discuss and sign with the Pakistani side a draft agreement on general cooperation between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the field of sports.

The Cabinet accredited the two final accounts of the state for fiscal years (1426/1427H) and (1427/1428H).

The Cabinet approved a number of appointments as follows:

1. Hashim bin Ali Hamza Rajeh is appointed to the post of 'Administrative Consultant' (rank 15) at the Ministry of Labor.

2. Mohammed bin Abdulhadi bin Mohammed Al-Matrafi is appointed to the post of 'Minister Plenipotentiary' at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

3. Youssef bin Ibrahim bin Salem Al-Shaer is appointed to the post of 'Minister Plenipotentiary' at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

4. Mohammed bin Mubarak bin Abdullah Al-Dossary is appointed to the post of ' Mayor of Baha Region' (rank 14) at Baha Governorate.

Meanwhile, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense, received at his office in Riyadh the Chief of Staff of Ground Forces of France General Pierre Trudeau and the accompanying delegation.

During the audience, cordial talks were exchanged and issues of mutual concern to the two countries were discussed.

The meeting was attended by senior officers of the armed forces and officials of the ministry and France's ambassador to the Kingdom Bertrand Besancenot.

On the other hand, Bahrain established a special fund Tuesday to pay compensation to civilians and others harmed "physically or morally" by public officials or security forces, in a decree aimed at easing tensions before a highly charged parliamentary election this week.

The decision by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa also comes about six weeks before a report by an independent commission probing allegations of abuse since the Sunni-led Gulf kingdom's majority Shiites began protests for greater rights in February.

The new fund, announced on the official Bahrain News Agency, would apparently cover all Bahrainis — including security officials and public officials — who would be considered victimized during the unrest.

It also said money would be set aside for those injured while helping people hurt in the demonstrations — a gesture to medical teams and emergency crews. More than two dozen doctors and nurses have faced trials on charges that range from anti-state subversion to lesser allegations of backing the protests.

More than 30 people have died in the violence, including two police officers. Shiites account for about 70 percent of Bahrain's 525,000 citizens, but claim they face deep discrimination from the ruling Sunni dynasty.

The report on the new compensation fund said it would follow U.N. guidelines on reparations, and cases would be determined by a "specialized court," but gave no further details on the process or the possible payout amounts.

Security forces are on high alert before a fresh of protests head of Saturday's election. It was called to fill 18 seats in the 40-member parliament after Shiite lawmakers staged mass resignations to protest the harsh crackdowns.

The main Shiite political blocs have called for a boycott of the voting. Other protest factions have urged for a bold escalation in the anti-government actions, including creating massive traffic jams to disrupt voting and trying to reclaim a central square that was a former protest hub.

The area is now ringed by a steel fence and watched around the clock by riot police.

Bahraini authorities have promised a harsh response to any attempts to derail the election.

The Ministry of Interior on Monday said protesters could lose their driver's licenses for up to a year if they carry out threats to create traffic tie-ups.

Also, Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa chaired an ordinary weekly cabinet meeting this week in Gudaibiya Palace.

Cabinet Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed made the following statement after the meeting:

In compliance with the ordinance of His Royal Highness the Prime Minister, the Cabinet dedicated this week’s session to the discussion of security situation and its follow up, and in this frame, the Cabinet expressed the government's and people's deep concernment in view of increasingly growing violence during unlawful sit-ins, rallies, demonstrations specially recently carried out by outlaws which resulted in wounding tens of security men and damage to public and private properties which is an absolutely unacceptable mounting of violence which should be encountered and halted.

And in this regard, the Minister of Interior Lt-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa informed the cabinet on a comprehensive presentation about latest violence and security violations which took place in the Kingdom.

The cabinet expressed sorrow in view of the increasingly growing provocative calls which instigate the targeting of security personnel – these provocative calls come from forums, website, social networks or practically during unlicensed demonstrations and gatherings which have nothing to do with peacefulness, calls for reformation, freedom of expression nor democracy.

Upon a request from the Minister of Interior, and a desire to provide further legal protection to security personnel while they are on duty, the cabinet endorsed the compilation of a Bill of Law for modification of some provisions of the Penal Code in order to ensure stricter punishment against crimes of physical assault on security men so that penalty becomes 15 years in prison to cover both instigators and implementers.

Therefore, the cabinet tasked the competent body to prepare the necessary legal instrument, according to required speed, in order to refer the said Bill of Law to the legislative authority.

The cabinet commended the role and huge efforts of public security men, and praised their alertness in foiling recurrent attempts at destabilizing security, and praised their high morale and discipline despite the dangers and escalations they are facing.

The cabinet urged religious clergymen and community leaders as well as all activists and citizens to cooperate with the public security in maintaining civil peace and to avoid any drifting into a cycle of sectarianism, violence or vandalism.

The cabinet also praised in this regard the responsible efforts of the legislative authorities – i.e. the Shura Council and the House of Representatives - both of whom condemned the provocative calls and supported the government efforts in maintain security and stability.

The cabinet stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain currently undergoes an important historical phase of accomplishments and reformation in response to the recommendations of the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry and in coordination and cooperation with the National Commission for Implementation and Follow-up of BICI's recommendations in order to implement the views of the national consensus dialogue and this calls for cooperation and contribution from all community members and close collective work in support of national unity for the sake of a prosperous future for the Kingdom and the welfare of all of its citizens.