KSA suspends oil shipments through Bab Al Mandab after Houthi terror attack

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Ali Falih said Iran-backed Houthi terrorists have made maritime shipping along Bab AL-Mandab risky. (SPA file photo)
Updated 26 July 2018

KSA suspends oil shipments through Bab Al Mandab after Houthi terror attack

  • Houthi terrorists earlier attacked two Saudi giant oil tankers, causing "slight damage" to one oi the vessels
  • The Arab Coalition helping Yemen's legitimate government said the Houthis almost caused an environmental disaster.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has suspended oil shipments through Bab Al-Mandab Strait after Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked two oil tankers, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Wednesday.
“All oil shipments passing through Bab Al-Mandab Strait have been suspended temporarily until navigation through the area is secure,” Al-Falih said in a statement released through the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and state TV Al-Ekhbariyah.
Al-Falih and Saudi Aramco confirmed in statements that two giant oil tankers belonging to the Saudi National Shipping Company, each carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil, were attacked by Houthi terrorists in the Red Sea Wednesday morning after crossing Bab al-Mandab. 
“One of the ships sustained minimal damage. No injuries nor oil spill have been reported,” Aramco said.
The oil giant said the decision to suspend shipments was “in the interest of the safety of ships and their crews and to avoid the risk of oil spill.”
Earlier, the pro-Houthi Al-Masirah television said that the rebels had targeted a Saudi warship named Al-Dammam, without providing further details.
But the Arab Coalition supporting the legitimate government of Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said crude oil tankers were attacked.
Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman of the coalition, said the Houthis “had almost caused an environmental disaster.” 

The coalition has repeatedly raised alarm that Houthi rebels threaten vessels in the Red Sea — a key shipping route for world trade — through their control of the strategic Hodeida port.
The Bab Al-Mandab Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, links the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.
“This terrorist attack is a dangerous threat to the freedom of navigation and international trade in the Red Sea,” said  Colonel Al-Malik.
“Port of Hodeida is still the starting point of terrorist attacks,” he said.
Pro-government forces backed up by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia have paused their offensive on Hodeida port in a bid they say to give UN-led peace efforts a chance.
The United Arab Emirates, whose forces in the coalition have been spearheading the Hodeida assault, has warned that troops could “liberate” the port city if those efforts fail.
Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen in 2015 at the head of a military coalition backing the country’s government after Houthi rebels ousted it from the capital Sanaa the previous year.
Meanwhile, the UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived Wednesday in the capital, Sanaa to meet with rebel leaders amid efforts to restart peace talks after a two-year hiatus.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr said Sunday the rebels should release all detainees and captives held in their prisons ahead of peace talks. He said the Houthis should also hand over their arms and withdraw from all rebel-held areas including Sanaa, which they seized in September 2014.
Last month, Griffiths announced plans to bring Yemen’s warring parties to the negotiating table. He held several meetings with both sides since.
Yemen’s three-year stalemated war has damaged Yemen’s infrastructure, crippled the health system and pushed it to the brink of famine.
The impoverished country is also now in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance. Malnutrition, cholera and other diseases have killed or sickened thousands of civilians over the years.

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.