Yemen ports open for aid, Houthis using ‘advanced weaponry’: Coalition spokesman

Coalition forces spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki, pictured here in a file photo, said several ports in Yemen had reopened for aid shipments. (AN Photo)
Updated 10 January 2018

Yemen ports open for aid, Houthis using ‘advanced weaponry’: Coalition spokesman

RIYADH: The Houthi militia in Yemen targeted a Saudi jet on Sunday using “advanced weaponry,” coalition forces spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said on Wednesday.
The Iran-backed militias are also using radars and other high-tech equipment to locate ships, Al-Maliki said.
Investigations are underway to establish where the equipment is coming from, he said, adding that the Houthis’ have raised at least $1 billion through collection of taxes.
A Saudi oil tanker was targeted Saturday by Houthi speed boats, the spokesman told a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both commercial and aid vessels are being targeted by the militias, he said.
A total of 87 ballistic missiles have been targeted at Saudi Arabia by Houthi militias to date, he added.
The Saudi spokesperson elaborated that the last ballistic missile, which was intercepted over Najran in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5, caused collateral damage, while some Houthi weapons in storage have been targeted by the coalition and destroyed.
Several ports in Yemen had been closed amid accusations that Iran is providing weapons to Houthi militia in the ongoing conflict.
Al-Maliki said however that land, sea and airports have now been reopened for international aid. These include the ports of Hodeidah, Aden, Mukala and Al-Mokha, with at least four aid ships already having been granted access.
Houthi forces are now focusing their attacks on Hodeidah, Al-Maliki said, adding that it was “vital” that the area is retaken to allow further humanitarian aid through the port. The coalition forces are advancing in Hodeidah and Jouf governorate in Yemen, Al-Maliki said.
Al-Maliki spoke of the Houthis' commitment to war and not peace. During the press conference a photo was shown portraying a soldier reading a primitive notebook that had pictures with instructions for the use of missiles. “Evidence proves that Houthis are being supported by foreign experts,” Al-Maliki said.
Al-Maliki pointed out that the Houthis are disguising themselves as normal citizens in order to avoid being targeted and taken in. He made clear that the coalition forces are advanced and monitoring them day and night. To fund their ongoing war in Yemen, Al-Maliki confirmed that “some Yemeni economic ventures and sectors are being forced to pay the Houthis.”
Finding a peaceful political solution is the best way forward, but the Houthis are not committed to this, Al-Maliki added.

First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019

First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.