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Saudi airs 'confessions' of jihadist on return from Syria

Saudi state television has for the first time broadcast the "confessions" of a jihadist who returned from Syria, as the Muslim kingdom distances itself from Islamist radicals in that country's conflict. Sulaiman al-Subaie, 25, who grew popular in his homeland for his posts on video-sharing app Keek, reportedly joined the most radical group fighting in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), last August. "The situation in Syria is not as portrayed in the media," Subaie said in a rare interview aired on Saudi television late Wednesday.

Qatar committee slams 'unfair' UAE jailing of citizen

A Qatar rights body will pursue the release of a citizen who was jailed seven years over links to an Islamist group in an "unfair" UAE ruling, local media reported Wednesday. A top United Arab Emirates court on Monday sentenced Qatari national Mahmud al-Jidah to seven years in prison followed by deportation after he was convicted with two Emiratis of raising funds for a local Muslim Brotherhood-linked group, Al-Islah.

Saudi, Bahrain, UAE recall envoys to Qatar

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Doha on Wednesday in protest at Qatar's interference in their internal affairs, they announced in a joint statement. The three Gulf Arab states made the decision following what newspapers described as a "stormy" late Tuesday meeting of foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh.

Iraq oil exports hit 25-year high in February

Iraq exported 2.8 million barrels of oil per day in February, a top minister said Saturday, a sharp month-on-month gain and the highest such figure in at least a quarter-century. Production, meanwhile, reached 3.5 million bpd, the deputy prime minister for energy affairs, Hussein al-Shahristani, told reporters in the southern port city of Basra as he inaugurated a refinery. "Production in February was 3.5 million barrels per day, and we exported 2.8 million barrels per day," he said.

Saudi hits back at Russia criticism on Syria arms

Saudi Arabia has hit back at Russian criticism of its reported plans to supply shoulder-launched missiles to Syrian rebels, saying it was Moscow's support for Damascus that was prolonging the conflict. A spokesman told the official SPA news agency late Friday that the foreign ministry had been "astonished by Russian criticism of Saudi Arabia for its support of the Syrian people". He said it was persistent Russian backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its repeated use of its veto at the UN Security Council, that was blocking a peaceful solution.

Qatar FM backs Syria political solution on Iran visit

Qatar's foreign minister said Wednesday his country and Iran both back a "political solution" to the conflict in Syria despite their support for opposite sides. "Everyone is agreed on one point, that the Syrian crisis should be resolved through a political solution," Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah told a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Qatar FM backs Syria political solution on Iran visit

Qatar's foreign minister said Wednesday his country and Iran both back a "political solution" to the conflict in Syria despite their support for opposite sides. "Everyone is agreed on one point, that the Syrian crisis should be resolved through a political solution," Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah told a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Bahrain looks to deter citizens from fighting abroad

Bahrain moved Wednesday to deter citizens from joining Islamist fighters abroad following similar action by other Gulf countries aimed at stemming the flow of homegrown jihadists to Syria. The ministry said it has proposed an amendment to its anti-terror law, which currently prescribes a maximum five-year sentence for fighting abroad, pledging "more deterrent measures against citizens committing or taking part abroad in mass violence or combat."

Russia warns Saudi against giving Syria rebels missiles

Russia on Tuesday warned Saudi Arabia against supplying Syrian rebels with shoulder-launched missile launchers, saying such a move would endanger security across the Middle East and beyond. The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that it was "deeply concerned" by news reports that Saudi Arabia was planning to buy Pakistani-made shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank systems for armed Syrian rebels based in Jordan.

Saudi 'seeking Pakistani arms for Syrian rebels'

Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets to Syrian rebels to try to tip the balance in the war to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a Saudi source said Sunday. The United States has long opposed arming the rebels with such weapons, fearing they might end up in the hands of extremists, but Syrian opposition figures say the failure of Geneva peace talks seems to have led Washington to soften its opposition.
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