Coalition forces cautious about collateral damage

Updated 30 March 2015

Coalition forces cautious about collateral damage

The Defense Ministry reiterated on Saturday that the coalition forces conducting military operations in Yemen are very much cautious about avoiding collateral damage and accused Houthis of targeting homes and civilians to maximize casualties with the intention of blaming them on airstrikes.
Addressing a press conference at the Riyadh air base, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri, consultant at the office of defense minister, said: “To avoid collateral damage, we are using precise intelligence inputs and reconnaissance planes to monitor Houthis’ movement and target their supply routes.”
He asserted that Houthi militants are targeting homes, causing collateral damage.
With the help of a powerpoint presentation and graphics, Al-Assiri pointed out the details with maps of Yemeni cities on how the coalition forces are successfully carrying out their operations.
“The safety of Yemeni people is our top priority and we only wish to restore the legitimate government and save Yemen from Houthi militants,” he underlined.
When Arab News asked if cluster bombs are being used in the airstrikes to completely suppress Houthi militants, he said: “We are not using cluster bombs at all.”
Responding to a query on F-15 fighter planes and if other war planes are being used in the airstrikes, Al-Assiri said that Saudi Arabia is not carrying out the military operations alone. It is a coalition of 11 nations and various fighter planes from different coalition partners are in operation, he pointed out.
He asserted that the operations will continue until the main objective of restoring the legitimate government to power is achieved.
He also said that the fighters jets would continue to pound Houthi positions until they are crippled completely.
The spokesman said that the Houthis were continuing to advance toward Saudi borders but Apache helicopters of coalition forces had struck positions to prevent a buildup of the militants.
Asked whether a ground operation is under consideration, he said that an announcement will be made if any such decision is made by the coalition.
Commenting on reports that Houthis were using ballistic and scud missiles to target coalition fighters, he observed that Yemeni army had stocks of such missiles which were taken into possession by the militants.
But he said coalition troops targeted their stockpiles and camps to destroy all their weaponry.
“We believe we have destroyed most of their stockpiles in our military operation,” he said.
He pointed out that Houthis are not like regular armies. They are using unusual warfare techniques, he said.
“We aim to completely suppress their attempts,” he added.
He reiterated that the Saudi-led airstrikes have destroyed most of the ballistic missiles that were in the possession of Houthis.
“We understand that we have destroyed their capabilities substantially,” said the spokesman, while confirming that the national air force and countries allied in Operation Decisive Storm have complete control of Yemen’s skies.

Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 February 2019

Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

  • Benefits of three-country tour include billions in economic deals as well as security initiatives

JEDDAH: The three-country tour of Asia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that came to a close this weekend was an economic and strategic success, experts say.

“Saudi Arabia might be seen by some as moving to the East,” Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), told Arab News. “The correct way to put it is that it’s spreading its wings East and West.

“Economic diversification requires strategic diversification. This should not be seen in any way as Saudi Arabia giving the cold shoulder to its most trusted allies, specifically the US,” he said. “And as Joseph Parry said: ‘Make new friends but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.’”

The tour, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince warmly welcomed by the leaders of Pakistan, India and China, is in line with the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which plans to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy that relies on crude oil exports into a vibrant, diversified economy. The tour resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals as well as initiatives to increase security and combat terrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is the one and only country that can take the leadership position on the global efforts of combating terrorism, specifically in the ideological front,” Al-Ansari said.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said that China and Saudi Arabia have the same goals of security and stability. “China shares the Kingdom’s concerns and it knows that our continent has suffered from terrorism issues and international interventions and also troubles in the region.”

The two countries also improved on their mutually beneficial economic ties. As Al-Shehri pointed out: “China needs a huge energy source, and Saudi Arabia is one of these sources that can provide China with energy.”

One significant deal is the $10 billion refining and petrochemical complex, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Norinco, to be developed in the Chinese city of Panjin.

Also of great geopolitical significance is the $10-billion oil-refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, as it is one of the most important parts of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, Al-Shehri said. “Global players are willing to invest in this project. The Kingdom’s investment in this field will serve Pakistan and will benefit the Kingdom as well as the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).”

And despite its historical relationship with Pakistan, Al-Shehri said that the Kingdom also found common ground with India. For instance, the two countries agreed to set up a working group on counter-terrorism. 

“India shares the Kingdom’s concern about instability in the seas, such as the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. These are all places of global trade,” Al-Shehri said, adding that he hopes the Kingdom will play a role in resolving border points of contention between Pakistan and India as it did between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

It wasn’t all just business. The crown prince’s tour included some other announcements, including that 2,100 Pakistani and 850 Indian prisoners will be released from the Kingdom’s jails, that the Chinese language will be introduced in the Saudi school curriculum and that Saudi Arabia will soon host several concerts featuring major Bollywood performers.

The crown prince also called for the creation of a health center in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province dedicated to the memory of a Pakistani hero who saved 14 lives in Jeddah’s 2009 floods.