The US newspaper “New York Times” published a report in which it spoke about concerns about the security of American diplomats in Saudi Arabia.
The newspaper said on Wednesday that the Coronavirus has spread inside the sprawling US embassy compound in Riyadh.
The newspaper added that dozens of embassy employees were infected with “Covid-19” last month, and more than 20 others were isolated, after Christmas grill became a possible carrier of the virus, noting the death of a driver of senior diplomats.
In the context, the New York Times reported that an evaluation from within the US embassy was circulated in closed channels in Riyadh and Washington late last month, comparing the situation of the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia to that of New York City in March, and the evaluation indicated that the response of the Saudi government was not Enough.
“Some at the embassy took the unusual step by passing information to Congress outside the official channels, stating that they do not believe that the leadership of the State Department or the US ambassador to the kingdom John B. Abizaid is taking the situation seriously enough,” the newspaper added.
The story, which was based on 9 current and former officials, highlighted the risks facing American diplomacy with a global pandemic, while frictions between front-line diplomats, intelligence officers, and defense officials on the one hand, and senior Trump administration officials on the other, and which yearns for to maintain relations with countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have special relations with the White House.
Meanwhile, the newspaper reported, the Saudi royal family wielded significant influence in the Middle East and energy policies, as well as the controversial arms sales that Trump personally defended.
The New York Times reported that it appears that the State Department responded on Saturday after quiet pressure in the bipartisan Congress, announcing “the voluntary departure of US employees and their family members from the US mission to Saudi Arabia,” but some senior embassy officials see this as Half a procedure.
People familiar with the situation said they had paid to evacuate most of the 400 to 500 American employees at the Riyadh embassy and two consulates.
In response to questions, the State Department stressed in a statement on Wednesday that it has no higher priority than ensuring the safety of US government employees and US citizens.
The State Department indicated that voluntary departure is appropriate in view of the current conditions associated with the epidemic, noting that it affected the Mission’s staff and American citizens in KSA.
In the context, “The New York Times” quoted a former CIA member and a secret officer who served in many Middle Eastern countries called Douglas London, that the Saudi royal family would not welcome any move by the US government to reduce the number of diplomats and intelligence officers in the Kingdom amid the epidemic.
The newspaper continued by saying that while the State Department is studying the safety of American employees in the midst of the disease outbreak in Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House are still more focused on the consequences of their relationship with the actual ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, not on the dangers he might be exposed to Americans, whether they are from the private sector or officials alike.
The American newspaper pointed out that the embassy in Riyadh is one of the most important American diplomatic sites in the Middle East and home to one of the largest CIA stations in the region, noting that hundreds of American diplomats, intelligence officers and their families live in the embassy compound and the neighboring residential complexes.
In addition, the newspaper said that the analysis, which was circulated in Washington and written by embassy employees and reviewed by the “New York Times,” indicated the possibility of increased cases of Covid-19 “during the month of July, and that there may be a shortage of hospital beds, explaining that the medical unit The embassy has already been overwhelmed by the rise in Coronavirus infections among Mission staff and their families.
The “New York Times” says that some American embassy employees took an exceptional step in transmitting information to Congress from outside the official channels, and they said that they do not believe that the State Department or the US ambassador to the Kingdom John B. Abizaid take the situation seriously enough.
They added that most of the US embassy employees and their families should be evacuated, especially since the State Department took these steps months ago with missions elsewhere in the Middle East, Asia and Russia.