'Brutal' Houthis blocking urgent aid distribution in Yemen: Al-Asiri

Houthi militias have afflicted immense suffering on men, women and children in Yemen. (File photo)
Updated 08 November 2016

'Brutal' Houthis blocking urgent aid distribution in Yemen: Al-Asiri

JEDDAH: Houthi militias have held up 34 humanitarian aid ships carrying medical and urgent assistance for more than 186 days, said Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Asiri, spokesman of the Arab Coalition Forces. 
Houthis, who are controlling the ports, are denying entry to these ships to deliver aid, he added.
“There are currently no UN representatives in Al-Hudaida Port — which is the largest and under the control of the Houthis — to ensure the delivery of aid and medical products, and to monitor their distribution,” said Al-Asiri, adding that the aid has been held in the port for the past six months, unable to reach those in need.
Abdul Raqeeb Fatah, the Yemeni minister of local administration and president of the supreme committee of relief, accused Houthis and militias of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh of willfully starving the Yemeni people by detaining the 34 ships carrying relief, humanitarian and medical aid provided by GCC countries. He said that Houthi militias prevented these ships from entering seaports of Al-Hudaydah and Al-Saleef.
In a statement to the Yemeni Press Agency, he said that the Yemeni people have been deprived of 496,000 tons of foodstuff, 146,000 tons of oil and 275,000 tons of iron and cement.
The people of Al-Hudaydah, like all the regions under Houthi militia control, are in a dire humanitarian situation, starving and plagued by diseases.
Fatah also confirmed that relief and humanitarian aid has been accumulating in seaports for more than seven months as 21 million Yemenis are in urgent need of them, all because of the Houthis.
His remarks come as international authorities continue to work for a settlement to the Yemeni crisis and an end to the months-long war ravaging the country.
Last week, the United Kingdom proposed a new draft resolution for peace in Yemen to Security Council members, which calls for a truce and renewed negotiations based on the UN’s peace plan that was proposed by United Nations Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
The United Kingdom’s resolution is based on five points, namely respecting the terms of the agreement to cease hostilities; resuming consultations to reach a political solution based on the roadmap without preconditions and based on good intentions of a political settlement based on the roadmap provided by Ould Cheikh Ahmed; withdrawal of militias from areas under their control; handing over heavy weapons; appointing a new vice president and forming a national unity government.
In a speech delivered before a meeting he held on Monday in Riyadh with Vice President Lt. Gen. Ali Mohsen Saleh and Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Obeid bin Dhaghr, as well as with advisers to the president and members of the government, Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi said he rejected “the so-called roadmap presented by Ould Cheikh because it is based on the wrong premises and thus would have wrong and inadequate results”.
The Yemeni president said that the UN envoy’s roadmap sets the stage for sustained wars and does not account for the root of the problem, which is the coup. He added that the roadmap contradicts entirely the terms of reference unanimously agreed upon and approved by the Yemeni people, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2216, and rewards the perpetrators of the coup and the rebels.
The president expressed thanks and appreciation to the Arab Coalition led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, without whose support in the operations Decisive Storm and Restore Hope, Yemen and the Yemeni people would not have been rescued from Iran’s grip.
He addressed the international community, stating: “We do not want fragile peace, nor peace on paper nor adulterated peace. We want long lasting and comprehensive peace based on ending the coup, based on the terms of reference unanimously agreed upon by the Yemeni people and blessed by the whole world, and based on the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.”
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek Al-Mokhalfi Friday night said the Yemeni government rejected the UN plan due to its lack of full compliance with the agreed-upon terms of reference.
He said the government is not demanding amendments to the plan, but rather a new vision that is in line with the agreed-upon agreements.
On Sunday, a Houthi militia delegation led by Mohammed Abdulsalam visited the Omani capital Muscat after meeting with the UN envoy, Ould Cheikh in Sanaa.
In a statement from Muscat, Abdulsalam said some remarks regarding the plan were presented to Ould Cheikh; they are aimed at achieving stability and peace in Yemen, as well as guaranteeing the participation of all parties in the political process.
He said Muscat is the first station to meet with international parties to discuss the roadmap, as well as the economic and humanitarian situation in the country. Hadi confirmed his commitment to peace based on the agreed terms of reference, and described the roadmap as a bomb that carries the seeds of the next war.
Saudi Ambassador the United Nations Abdullah Al-Muallimi said submitting the UK draft resolution to the Security Council was postponed pending an understanding between London and Riyadh on the roadmap.
Hadi stressed that the conflict and war experienced by the Yemeni people because of the rebel forces backed by Iran are proof of the extent of coordination between Iran and the terrorist groups it supports.
He warned about Iran’s long-term ambition of destabilizing security in the region and international navigation by controlling the Strait of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandeb.
The UN envoy is continuing consultations in Sanaa amid reports about the complexities of synchronizing operational procedures of military and security aspects with the political steps, as per the road map.
Ould Cheikh arrived in Sanaa on Thursday to discuss his roadmap; it was his second visit to the capital in less than a week.
The envoy met with members of the diplomatic corps and other officials to discuss ways to alleviate Yemenis’ humanitarian suffering and assess the best ways to address the country’s economic crisis. However, the envoy left the Yemeni capital on Saturday without reaching any substantial results.
“Negotiating peace frameworks is a tremendous undertaking under the best of circumstances,” Ould Cheikh said prior to his visit.
“It requires an unequivocal determination of the parties to reach a negotiated settlement to put Yemen on the path to peace, and that’s what we are aiming for.”

Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 22 May 2019

Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.