White House: Iran ‘prolonging Yemen war’

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 09 November 2017
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White House: Iran ‘prolonging Yemen war’

JEDDAH: Iran is prolonging the war in Yemen in pursuit of regional domination and is undermining UN efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict, the White House said on Wednesday.
The US accused Iran of supplying Yemen’s Houthi militias with advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles used to attack Makkah and Riyadh, echoing allegations made by Saudi Arabia.
A White House statement condemned Iran’s actions and pledged US support to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners against Tehran’s “blatant” violations of international law.
“Houthi missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, enabled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threaten regional security,” the White House said. “These missile systems were not present in Yemen before the conflict, and we call upon the UN to conduct a thorough examination of evidence that the Iranian regime is perpetuating the war in Yemen to advance its regional ambitions.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday the missile attack on Riyadh on Saturday was a “direct military aggression by the Iranian regime.”
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saudi Arabia would “achieve nothing by threatening the might of Iran.”
James F. Jeffrey, former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “It is symptomatic of what we have seen for 35 years: Iran expands and threatens and strikes via surrogates and refuses to admit responsibility.”
Countries affected by Iran’s policies over the years have had difficulty deterring Tehran from its destabilizing policies, Jeffrey said. “Until countries are willing to hit Iranian interests directly and bear the risks, this will just continue. US and Saudis should warn Iran: Another such attack and they will jointly strike a target in Iran. Nothing else will cause Iran to pause.”
Ellen Laipson, a Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus of the Stimson Center in Washington, told Arab News: “Neither Tehran nor Riyadh appears ready to back down or find a path to a compromise and negotiated settlement of the crisis, and Iran would not necessarily be at the negotiating table. The stakes are higher for Saudi Arabia than for Iran, which sees Yemen as a target of opportunity rather than a vital national interest.”
Reports that Saudi Arabia had prevented the internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from returning to Yemen were “lies,” the president’s office said on Wednesday.
The reports were part of a “systematic campaign targeting Saudi Arabia, which leads a battle to stop Iranian interference in Yemen and the region,” a spokesman said.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 14 min 55 sec ago
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.