The Arab coalition said on Tuesday it had released 200 Houthi prisoners to support peace efforts aimed at ending the nearly five-year war in Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
Aim is to support a UN-brokered deal aimed at ending the nearly five-year war in Yemen
RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting Yemen’s internationally recognized government has released 200 Houthi prisoners, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday, citing coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.
Its aim is to support a UN-brokered deal aimed at ending the nearly five-year war in Yemen, said a statement, adding that the purpose is to pave the way for a larger and long-delayed prisoner swap agreed upon last year.
The coalition is also conducting flights in cooperation with the World Health Organization to transport patients from Sanaa to countries where they can receive appropriate medical treatment, he added.
The coalition has been battling the Iran-backed Houthis on behalf of Yemen’s internationally recognized government since 2015.
The two sides signed a UN peace deal in Sweden last December but have yet to implement it.
The prisoner swap was part of a UN-negotiated agreement reached in Sweden last December. The agreement involved a cease-fire in the port of Hodeida.
Yemeni government officials were quoted by The Associated Press as saying the release of prisoners was a trust-building measure aimed at encouraging the Houthis to negotiate with the coalition to end the war.
Al-Gharati said that the silence of the international community regarding Houthi violations and the refusal to abide by international resolutions encouraged it to continue committing crimes
GENEVA: The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations held a symposium at the UN, where it argued that human rights violations in Yemen would deepen if Houthi terrorists continue to commit atrocities.
The symposium was held within the framework of the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council focusing on violations in Yemen.
Murad Al-Gharati, head of Tamkeen Development Foundation, said that human rights violations in Yemen would not stop as long as the Iran-backed Houthi terrorist militia controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and other Yemeni governorates, while having access to Yemeni state weapons.
“The Houthi militia did not recognize or investigate any of the violations committed against civilians, which confirms its deliberate targeting of civilians. It also did not hand over maps of mines, which renders them more difficult to clear out, and harms efforts to prevent the fall of new victims, or treat individuals who were already victims to mines,” he said.
Al-Gharati said that the silence of the international community regarding Houthi violations and the refusal to abide by international resolutions encouraged it to continue committing crimes, besieging cities and intercepting relief materials to use them in its war against innocent Yemenis, which meant “killing them twice, by stealing relief dedicated to the hungry and needy, and by using the revenues generated from selling it for buying bullets.”
He added that the continued violations of Houthis against women will lead to divisions in society.
TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities.
“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.
However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan – which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom – and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.
“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said.
Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. “We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it’s important to continue doing it.
“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it’s a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that’s something out of Japan’s constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”
He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.
The arrests of 3,544 people were carried out across Yemen between September, 2014 and December 2018
The disappeared include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people
DUBAI: The Houthis are responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people in four years, according to a report by the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations.
The arrests of 3,544 people were carried out across Yemen between September, 2014 and December 2018, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.
Those who have disappeared include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people.
Now the Arab coalition has called on the international community to pressure the Houthi militia to reveal the whereabouts of the disappeared.
Drone attacks caused fires in two major Saudi Aramco facilities in the kingdom, the Saudi interior ministry said on Saturday. (AFP)
The Houthis have attacked again. This time they hit the oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. In the past, they have attacked oil pipelines, airports and densely populated civilian areas.
Today’s attack, however, illustrates yet again the vile nature of what is an Iran-aligned terrorist militia. It was because of this militia that Saudi Arabia in 2015 — at the invitation of the legitimate Yemeni government — launched Operation Decisive Storm.
Very early on, Saudi Arabia saw the Iranian gameplan of creating a Hezbollah-like terrorist entity on the Kingdom’s southern border. The Houthis in Yemen did exactly what Hezbollah was doing in Lebanon: They held the government hostage, took over the country at gunpoint and made themselves, at the prodding and insistence of Iran, a danger to all Yemen’s neighbors.
Saudi Arabia through diplomatic channels explained this to the wider world. It put forth a valid explanation as to why the Houthis should be uprooted from Yemen and disarmed. Unfortunately, the world community saw what was happening as nothing more than a conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis — which is and was never the case.
Today’s attacks make it amply clear that Iran, through the Houthis, wants to disrupt the flow of oil to world markets. Since Tehran is feeling the bite of US sanctions, it wants to create chaos and mayhem in the region and today’s attacks must be seen in that context. The attacks are a direct challenge to the world community; they will have an effect on each and every country in the world, which depends, even partially, on Saudi oil to turn the wheels of its industry.
According to reports, drones were used in these most recent coordinated attacks. Why drones? Because Saudi Arabia had earlier managed to intercept and neutralize more than 200 missiles that were fired at it by the Houthis. The terrorist militia has begun using drones perhaps because drones are difficult to intercept. The world community must understand the danger that these militias pose in terms of the arsenal at their command. They have no qualms about unleashing the drones and missiles on civilian populations and vital installations. This should be all the more reason for the world community to speak in one voice and to join hands with Saudi Arabia in neutralizing the terrorist militia.
Saudi Arabia has played its part in maintaining stability in the oil market. It has pumped more oil to keep markets steady during critical times. It has always acted responsibly as a key player in the international community. This Houthi terrorism is an issue for the whole world and therefore requires a robust international response. Saudi Arabia should not be alone in this fight. Just as the world stood together in its fight against Al-Qaeda after 9/11 and more recently against Daesh, there has to be a concerted, sustained and coordinated global response to finish off the Houthi terror machine. The group has crossed all limits and has become a danger to world peace and stability. The Houthis are no different from Al-Qaeda or Daesh, and just as Al-Qaeda and Daesh have been crushed through united global action, so the Houthis need crushing as well.
Now is the time for the global community to wake up. Saudi Arabia has done all it can in its fight against terrorism. It must be understood that it would be easy for Saudi Arabia to obliterate the Houthis, but the Kingdom is held back by the knowledge that such action would lead to catastrophic civilian casualties.
The Houthis have time and again thwarted efforts to hold dialogue and end their terrorist behavior. Recently, there were even talks of their holding a dialogue with the US. Today’s attacks show that they are not serious in doing anything and are merely interested in pulling the wool over the eyes of the international community. This has gone on for five years and the Houthis have become bolder and bolder with their acts of terror. This cannot go on for another five years. There are limits to Saudi Arabia’s patience. There has to be firm and decisive action against the Houthis because this is not only Saudi Arabia’s war but a war for all peace-loving nations who do not want a terrorist militia to hold its people and neighboring countries ransom. It should now be clear that there should be zero tolerance for the Houthis, their agenda and their terrorist attacks.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view
Flood aid to Khartoum displays Saudi-Sudan friendship
RIYADH: Recent royal decrees reflect the Kingdom’s keenness to develop various sectors in line with the Vision 2030 reform plan, the Saudi Cabinet said on Tuesday at a meeting chaired by King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. The creation of the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, and of the National Center for Artificial Intelligence, are among the most important of the decrees. The Cabinet decided to include Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi on Saudi Aramco’s board of directors.
Trade and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi told the Saudi Press Agency that the Cabinet appreciates the UN Security Council’s condemnation of the repeated targeting of civilians in Saudi Arabia by Houthi militias in Yemen.
The urgent relief campaign ordered by King Salman for Sudan stems from Saudi concern for the Sudanese people, and is part of the Kingdom’s pivotal role in providing assistance to people in need wherever they are, the Cabinet said.
• The creation of the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, and of the National Center for Artificial Intelligence, are among the most important of the decrees.
• The Cabinet decided to include Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi on Saudi Aramco’s board of directors.
• Saudi and Afghan governments to jointly combat drug trafficking, Cabinet told.
• Cabinet welcomes Umrah pilgrims to the Kingdom.
It added that the Saudi government provided $2 million in financial support to the Islamic Food Security Organization to contribute to the implementation of its programs, and to fulfil its commitments to member states.
The Cabinet welcomed Umrah pilgrims to the Kingdom, who are expected to number 10 million this year.
It authorized a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Saudi and Afghan governments to combat drug trafficking.
The Cabinet also authorized an MoU between the Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission and the UN Development Program in the field of corruption prevention.
A picture taken on June 19, 2018 shows debris of Iranian-made Ababil drones displayed Abu Dhabi, which the Emirati armed forces say were used by Houthi rebels in Yemen in battles against the coalition forces led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. (AFP/File Photo)
Houthi device intercepted over Yemeni territory
The incident follows a similar attack on Tuesday and marks latest in string of Houthi drone launches
RIYADH: Coalition forces fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen said a drone launched on Friday from Amran was intercepted.
It follows a similar attack on Tuesday, which coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Maliki denied was targeting Abha Airport in southern Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis, who control Sana’a, have stepped up attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia in recent months. In response, the coalition has targeted military sites belonging to the group, especially around Sana’a.
Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with Mohammed Abdul-Salam of the Houthi militants in Tehran on Tuesday. (AP)
State TV showed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praising the militants Tuesday, as he met a Houthi negotiator
‘The Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology,’ said UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash
LONDON: A meeting between a Houthi official and Iran’s Supreme Leader proves “in black and white” that the Yemeni militants are an Iranian proxy, a senior Emirati said Wednesday.
State TV showed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praising the militants Tuesday, as he met the Houthi negotiator, Mohammed Abdul-Salam. Iran has long been accused of supporting the group, which sparked the war in 2014 when they seized the capital Sanaa.
د. أنور قرقاش
Houthi relations with Iran, for long in search for proper designation, is clearer following their leadership’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei. Stated in black & white in their statement of fealty the Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology.
Houthi relations with Iran are “clearer following their leadership’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei,” the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter. The relationship was “stated in black and white in their statement of fealty,” he added. “The Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology.”
Iran’s support for the Houthis and supply of weapons is regarded as one of the key reasons the war in Yemen has lasted so long. An Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, is supporting troops loyal to the internationally recognized government against the Houthis.
The meeting in Tehran is the first time Khamenei has held talks with a senior Houthi representative, Reuters reported.
“I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen’s believing men and women … Yemen’s people… will establish a strong government,” Khamenei said.
Yemen’s government and the Arab coalition accuse the Houthis of collapsing previous UN-sponsored talks to find a political settlement to the conflict.
Saudi Arabia and its allies say Iran’s support of proxy militias in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and groups in Iraq, is the main cause of instability in the region.
The vast number of mines continues to pose a threat to Yemeni civilians. (SPA)
Expert teams have cleared more than 80,000 mines since the project began in July 2018
RIYADH: Saudi-led mine clearance teams have de-activated nearly 1,000 Houthi explosive devices in Yemen in a single week.
MASAM, the Saudi project for landmine clearance, disabled 15 anti-personnel mines, 458 anti-vehicle mines, two explosive devices and 490 unexploded bombs — a total of 965 devices — during the second week of August.
Expert teams have cleared more than 80,000 mines since the project began in July 2018.
However, Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen are thought to have planted more than a million mines in the past three years. The Houthis are also developing anti-vehicle mines and converting them into anti-personnel devices.
“The vast number of land mines continues to pose a threat to the lives of Yemeni people,” a MASAMspokesman said. “The Houthi militias lay internationally banned devices randomly near residential areas, on roads and farmland in liberated regions, threatening civilians who are outside the battlefield.”
In July, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) extended the contract for the MASAM initiative for a further year, with an investment of $31 million to ensure that Saudi and international experts can continue to clear mines, especially in the governorates of Marib, Aden, Sanaa and Taiz.
The initiative is aimed at delivering security for the Yemeni people, and is one of several launched by the Kingdom.
KSRelief chief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said the Kingdom had conducted more than 1,000 humanitarian aid programs worth $3.5 billion in 44 countries since 2014.