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Arabic press review: Saudi Ritz Carlton prisoner dies after torture

And in Algeria, a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia is averted
Riyadh's Ritz Carolton, where dozens of high profile prisoners are being held (AFP)

Saudi prisoner dies after being tortured

One of the Saudi prisoners at the Ritz Carlton has died under torture, according to London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Major general Ali Alqahtani, who was detained in early November as part of an alleged anti-corruption drive, had been working in the royal guard forces.

He was the manager of the private office of Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, the son of former king Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, according to the newspaper.

Alqahtani died on 12 December after being tortured with electric shocks, and his family struggled to recognise him after receiving his body, according to sources, the newspaper reported.

Erdogan and UAE minister in Ottoman history spat

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the Emirati charge d'affaires over a spat in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to the defence of an Ottoman commander, according to Arabi21.

Last weekend, the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed shared a tweet which accused the Ottoman Empire of “stealing” the holy city of Medina, now in Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan responded that Fahreddin Pasha had defended Medina during World War I and did not steal it.

“You arrogant man, blinded by oil and money. Rude man, where were your ancestors when my ancestors were defending Medina?” Erdogan said on Thursday, addressing the UAE foreign minister.

He added: "Those who do know the history of Fahreddin Pasha and his defence of the city of Medina, are we to be abused by an insolent man who attacks Erdogan’s ancestors and is hostile to the extent of accusing them of theft, as this arrogant man did?" 

Two Egyptian ministers survived assassination attempt

Military sources in Egypt have revealed that two government ministers were the intended targets of an attack on El-Arish Airport last Tuesday, which killed an army officer and two others, according to the Asrar Arabiya website.

The Sinai attack was an “assassination attempt targeting both the Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy and Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar” who were both present at the airport at the time of the attack, the report says.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The source said that the Intelligence services in Egypt linked the attack on El-Arish to the shooting down of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai in 2015, also claimed by IS, a sign that “the terrorist group is currently able to penetrate all the airports in Sinai,” sources said.

Algeria contains crisis with Saudi Arabia

Algeria and Saudi Arabia have been embroiled in an escalating crisis over a photo deemed “insulting” to King Salman bin Abdulaziz, raised earlier in the week by sports fans in a stadium in the east of the country, in solidarity with Jerusalem, according to London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi. 

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika received the chairman of the Saudi Shura Council, Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Sheikh on Wednesday evening, despite the fact Bouteflika, who has been ill since 2013, normally only receives foreigners who are also heads of state.

Algerian football fans raised a banner featuring half of King Salman's face and half of US President Trump's face with the tagline "opposite sides of the same coin” (Twitter)

The banner on display at a game in the city of Ain Melilla featured half of King Salman's face and half of US President Donald Trump's face with the taglines "opposite sides of the same coin” and “Jerusalem is ours” near an image of Al-Aqsa mosque, the newspaper reported last week. 

Smell of death reeks in Raqqa

The smell of death has filled the municipal stadium - or the “Black Stadium” as it has been known since IS took it over - in the center of the city of Raqqa, under which IS militants had built a large prison, according to a report in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al- Awsat.

For years, the cries which came out from its playground were not the sound of crowds, or of football fans cheering, the paper reported, but they were the groans of the people who were arrested by IS militants who brutally tortured them.

Asharq Al-Awsat said that it finally managed to enter the municipal stadium prison, which, it transpired, includes 12 large halls, three solitary confinement centers, an interrogation office, a secretary’s reception area, and an “Al-Ikhwa” (brothers) prison where IS militants themselves were imprisoned. 

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