Coalition’s priority is to protect Yemen civilians

A member of the Saudi security force stands guard in front of the logo of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition during a meeting for the coalition's chiefs of staff in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this March 27, 2016 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 February 2017

Coalition’s priority is to protect Yemen civilians

ADEN: The Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition supporting the legitimacy in Yemen has made the protection of civilians its top priority and is taking all measures to minimize losses.
The coalition leadership, which reaffirms its commitment to international human rights and humanitarian law, has taken steps to protect civilians, members of medical units and humanitarian organizations as well as journalists.
The coalition works extensively with UN organizations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to support humanitarian efforts based on respect for international human rights.
An independent team formed by the coalition, consisting of top officials, military advisers and military, international and humanitarian law authorities, is working to assess incidents and accidents and investigation procedures.
The team is working to develop these processes and it provides reports about each incident that include studies, lessons learned, conclusions and recommendations for future action.
The coalition forces that participated in the Operation Decisive Storm and are now participating in the Operation Restoration of Hope have an interest in restoring legitimacy to Yemen and shows a great concern for the lives of civilians, their homes and for the provision of their basic needs such as water, food, schooling, hospitals and others.
The coalition is also determined to protect existing infrastructure in Yemeni cities and towns that are in the crossfire of Houthi rebels.
Despite the fact that the Geneva Convention and the additional protocol warn against the use of civilians as human shields, Houthis and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces are still concentrated in residential areas.
Abdulrahman Berman, a lawyer with the Yemeni National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms, said that Houthi rebels in Yemen are seeking revenge by using people as human shields.
As such, these rebels are legally and ethically accountable to the Yemeni people and the international community, he said.
The coalition has on several occasions, especially in conflict areas such as Saadah, evacuated civilians as soon as possible before launching airstrikes on hiding places of Houthis and other rebels.
A confidential report by UN experts monitoring the sanctions imposed on Yemen has also accused Houthis of using civilians as human shields.
The report revealed that Houthis deliberately hid fighters and weapons near civilians in Al-Mokha and Taiz in order to avoid being attacked, which is in violation of international humanitarian law.
Earlier, Mansour bin Ahmed Al-Mansour, media spokesman of the joint team for evaluating incidents in Yemen, rejected accusations that the Arab coalition targets civilians in Yemen as “inaccurate” and stressed that Houthis use civilian facilities for military purposes.

Trump: US needs Saudi Arabia in fight against terrorism

Updated 38 min 16 sec ago

Trump: US needs Saudi Arabia in fight against terrorism

  • US president says he does not want to walk away from the Kingdom 
  • Secretary of State says Turkish president made clear to him that Saudi Arabia is cooperating in Khashoggi investigation

LONDON: Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the US needs Saudi Arabia in the fight against terrorism and that he did not want to walk away from the Kingdom. 

His comments came after US Secretary of Sate Mike Pompeo met the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Erdogan made clear that Saudi Arabia is cooperating in the investigation, Pompeo said, the day after he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. 

"You know we need Saudi Arabia in terms of our fight against all of the terrorism, everything that's happening in Iran and other places,” Trump told Fox Business in response to questions about the Khashoggi case.

The US president said he did not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia.

“They have a tremendous order, $110 billion,” he said, in reference to US arms sales to the Kingdom.

Trump said later on Wednesday the US had asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it may have related to the case but was not sure whether any such evidence exists.

"We have asked for it, if it exists ... I'm not sure yet that it exists," Trump said at the White House. "I'll have a full report on that from Mike (Pompeo) when he comes back."

On Tuesday, Trump criticized global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Kingdom’s request for patience.

Khashoggi, who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to complete paperwork related to his divorce. 

Saudi Arabia, which denies any involvement in the kidnapping or killing of Khashoggi, has set up a joint team to investigate the disappearance with Turkey.

As he returned to the US from Turkey, Pompeo said President Erdogan “made clear that the Saudis had cooperated with the investigation that the Turks are engaged in and they are going to share information.”

“There have been a couple of delays but they seemed pretty confident that the Saudis would permit them to do the things they need to do to complete their thorough and complete investigation,” he said.

He added that the US must be mindful of the important business and government ties with the Kingdom, once the facts of the case have been determined.