Energy minister: Houthi attack on Saudi tanker will not disrupt supplies

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih attends a meeting of the 4th OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee in St. Petersburg on July 24, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 04 April 2018
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Energy minister: Houthi attack on Saudi tanker will not disrupt supplies

  • Khalid Al-Falih described the attack as a desperate attempt to influence the security of international navigation
  • He pointed out that the continuation of these attempts reveals the danger of this militia and those behind it on regional and international security
Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih said on Wednesday that the Houthi attack on a Saudi oil tanker west of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah will not disrupt oil supplies or affect economic activity.
Al-Faleh described the terrorist attack on Twitter as a desperate attempt to influence the security of international navigation, saying it had failed. He also expressed his confidence in the vigilance of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to support the internationally recognised government of Yemen and its ability to counter Houthi militant attacks.
Spokesperson for the coalition Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said on Tuesday that around 1:30pm Saudi time, one of the Saudi oil tankers was attacked by Houthi militias in international waters, west of the port of Hodeidah, which is controlled by the armed militias backed by Iran.
He said the attempted attack was foiled after a quick intervention by one of the alliance’s naval vessels.
“The tanker suffered a minor injury but completed its navigational line and sailed north accompanied by one of the naval coalition ships,” Al-Maliki.
Colonel Al-Maliki stressed that this militant attack poses a serious threat to the freedom of maritime navigation and international trade in the Bab al-Mandab and Red Sea straits, which could also cause environmental and economic damage.
He pointed out that the continuation of these attempts reveals the danger of this militia and those behind it on regional and international security, and confirms the continued use of the port of Hodeidah as a starting point for terrorist operations as well as the smuggling of rockets and weapons.
Al-Maliki stated that the leadership of the joint forces of the coalition has adopted and implemented measures to maintain security and stability and ensure freedom of navigation and international trade in the Strait of Bab al-Mandab and the Red Sea. This is part of its commitment to its essential role in making Yemen safe and stable, he added.
The spokesperson also reiterated the call for the importance of placing the port of Hodeidah under international supervision and preventing its use as a military base to launch attacks against shipping lines.


How Saudi Arabia stood by Pakistan after nuclear tests

Updated 2 min 12 sec ago
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How Saudi Arabia stood by Pakistan after nuclear tests

  • At this difficult moment in Pakistan’s history, Mahmood said, the king’s “depth of brotherly feeling” was touching

ISLAMABAD: Khalid Mahmood was in Jeddah on the afternoon of May 28, 1998, waiting to receive a delegation, when news broke that Pakistan had conducted five underground nuclear tests under then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mahmood, who was Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the time, sat in his hotel room watching TV reports of the tests and awaiting instructions on his next move from the Foreign Ministry.

By that evening, he told Arab News, he decided to break protocol and make contact with the Royal Court, requesting an urgent meeting with then-King Fahd the following day, a non-working Friday.

To Mahmood’s surprise, the king agreed. By then, the ambassador had also received instructions from Islamabad: A diplomatically isolated Pakistan was to seek the support of the king and crown prince.

Mahmood denied the widely held opinion that Pakistani officials had already informed Riyadh of their intent to test. “It’s not true that I conveyed to them (the Saudis) that we were going to have this nuclear test,” he said.

Mahmood described how, with “great fanfare and (motorcycle) escorts,” he was taken to the palace, where the king apologized for not being able to get up to greet him on account of a bad knee. “It was so very gracious of him,” Mahmood said. “Nobody expects the king to get up and receive (diplomats).”

After listening to Islamabad’s reasons for the surprise nuclear tests, Mahmood said the king was brief in his response. 

“He said we are against what you have done because we are a member of the non-proliferation treaty. But we know and understand why you have done it. And we will support you more than you expect of us.”

After Pakistan tested the weapons, the US imposed harsh sanctions, including cutting off trade credits, private bank loans and support for loans not based on relief from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Arms sales and military aid to Pakistan were already cut off under separate legislation in 1990, when it was determined that Pakistan had nuclear weapons.

At this difficult moment in Pakistan’s history, Mahmood said, the king’s “depth of brotherly feeling” was touching.

The following day, then-Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz held a longer meeting, officially reiterating the Kingdom’s support for Pakistan, with assurances in the form of a four-year deferred oil financing facility worth roughly $3.4 billion. This gave Pakistan the confidence to go ahead and conduct another nuclear test on May 30, Mahmood said.

A few weeks later, the envoy was called in again for a meeting with the crown prince, who had been receiving persistent calls from US President Bill Clinton asking Riyadh to reconsider its position on Pakistan.

But the crown prince refused to comply. “Our relations with Pakistan are of a different nature,” Mahmood quoted the crown prince as having told the Americans.