A top State Department official said Thursday that Saudi Arabia was a strong and “very capable” partner in the fight against terrorism.
Speaking after the release of the 2020 Country Report on Terrorism, Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism John Godfrey praised Riyadh for its work.
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“Saudi Arabia remains a strong and active and very capable counterterrorism partner of the United States,” Godfrey said in response to a question from a reporter during a phone briefing.
He said the US would continue to partner with Saudi Arabia against terrorism in the region as well as in the context of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the Global Counterterrorism Forum. “Saudi Arabia is an active member of both of those.”
Godfrey told reporters that ISIS and Al-Qaeda continued to pose a threat to the region and the world.
“As an example of that, ISIS branches and networks outside Iraq and Syria caused more fatalities during 2020 than in any previous year. Deaths due to ISIS-affiliated attacks in West Africa alone almost doubled from around 2,700 in 2017 to nearly 5,000 in 2020,” he said.
Godfrey also voiced concern over the continued Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the threat within the country from Al-Qaeda and ISIS-aligned terrorists. “They’ve been quite capable in beating back those threats as well,” he said of the latter.Turning to Iraq, Godfrey commended the positive role played by Saudi Arabia, “including with respect to some of the efforts to promote economic and other stabilization efforts.”
He added: “And obviously, I think that there’s been quite a lot of cooperation throughout the region, including with Saudi Arabia, on trying to get a new government formed in Iraq that reflects the will of the Iraqi people.”
Singling out Iran, Godfrey said it was continuing to support acts of terrorism around the world with its backing of groups in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, including Hizballah and Hamas. “And senior al-Qaida leaders continued to reside in Iran,” he said.