Fact-finding team presents results of 7 incidents in Yemeni conflict

Mansour Al-Mansour said that JIAT stands at a same distance from all parties to the Yemeni conflict. (SPA)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Fact-finding team presents results of 7 incidents in Yemeni conflict

  • JIAT joins organizations rejecting violations that happen during the military operations: Al-Mansour
  • JIAT is independent and impartial: Al-Mansour

RIYADH: The spokesman of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen, legal consultant Mansour Bin Ahmed Al-Mansour, stressed that the team abides by transparency in announcing the results of engagement in Yemen.
This came in a news conference Al-Mansour held on Tuesday at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh for assessing several incidents. JIAT found that the Coalition Forces were not responsible for the incidents reported.
Al-Mansour reviewed several cases. They included the civilian fishing boat incident along the Yemeni coast in the Red Sea. which according to the Red Cross took place on Feb. 22, 2017. The Red Cross said the Coalition carried out attacks on civilians’ fishing boats along the Yemeni coast in the Red Sea, where two helicopters intercepted two fishing boats two nautical miles from Yakhtul coast. One of the helicopters targeted one of the boats, causing one death and two injuries.
However, JIAT investigations revealed that the Coalition Forces did not conduct any mission there on that date. Therefore, the Coalition Forces did not target the two fishing boats on the Yemeni coast.
The JIAT also investigated an incident in which the Coalition Air Forces on July 7, 2015 targeted Alwaht Mosque in Lahj Governorate, causing the deaths of 10 people and injured 15 others, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In this instance the JIAT found that the closest target was 7km south of the Alwaht Mosque, which is north of Alwaht city.
The Coalition Air Forces carried out an air mission on a legitimate military target connected with the Houthi-armed militia, 300m away from the claimed location. After reviewing the satellite images of the coordinate given by the HCHR, it shows a destroyed building before April 15, 2015 — almost two months before the claimed date.
On investigating, JIAT found out that the Coalition Forces did not target Alwaht Mosque and that the procedures of the Coalition were carried out in accordance with the international humanitarian law and its customary rules.
Human Rights Watch also stated that the Coalition Forces at 10:50 p.m. on May 5, 2015 dropped three bombs on the Cultural Center and a vicinity house in Sa’dah, killing 28 people and injuring three others. Twenty-seven of these people were from one family. JIAT verified the incident, examined all related documents, and found that the Cultural Center was used for Maseerh FM to broadcast military news of the Houthi-armed militia in addition to broadcasting radio interviews with the Houthi leaders.
Based on that, the Cultural Center lost the legal protection of civilians because of the use of military actions and it was considered a legitimate military target.
Regarding the report issued by the Human Rights Watch in relation to the houses in Yarim, Ibb Directorate, which stated that an airstrike at 2 a.m. on July 19, 2015 caused the death of at least 16 civilians and injured 16 others in Yarim town, 120km from South Sana’a.
JIAT verified the incident, examined all related documents and assessed all gathered evidence. JIAT found that the Coalition Forces did not conduct any air missions on the day of the claim in Yarim town.
Human Rights Watch also stated that the Coalition Air Forces at 4:15 p.m. on May 12, 2015 targeted SHajjea Market with no fewer than five bombs, causing the death of 60 civilians and injuring at least 155 others.
JIAT found that there were no air missions throughout the governorate of Alhudeidah on the day claimed May 12, 2015, nor on the previous or following days. In light of that, JIAT found that the Coalition Air Forces did not target SHajjea Market in Zabid town.
Al-Mansour also announced the findings of investigations into what was broadcast in the media and the statement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the Coalition Forces carried out an airstrike on a wedding in Bani Qais Directorate, Hajjah governorate on April 22, 2018. Initial investigations indicated that the two airstrikes killed at least 19 civilians, and 50 others were injured, most of them children. Also the airstrikes destroyed a wedding tent in a civilian house while the victims were celebrating a wedding.
Intelligence reports from Yemen indicated the presence of foreign ballistic missile experts, one a known Houthi leader, in a specific location in Hajjah governorate, which confirmed the previous information of the Coalition Forces about the arrival of foreign ballistic missile experts in Yemen through Alhudaydah port. Furthermore, seven ballistic missiles fired on Saudi Arabia were executed from Hajjah governorate.
JIAT reviewed the video recordings of the executed mission and could not verify the presence of a wedding tent in the targeted area. Also there were no indications of any ceremony gatherings in the targeted location.
JIAT also found that some of the rules of engagement were not followed to minimize collateral damages to the claimed tent as a result of targeting the building. JIAT recommends legal procedures should be taken against those responsible, and provides assistance for the damage and losses resulting from this mission.
A report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated that there were two airstrikes on Sa’ada at 11:50 a.m. on April 9, 2018. One hit a welding workshop on Bin Salman road and the other hit the Higher Institute of Medical Science in Al Salam Hospital complex, causing the death of three civilians and injuring 19 others, some of them children. 
In light of that, JIAT found that the ICRC report was not correct about the two airstrikes on the welding workshop and the Higher Institute of Medical Science, and that the procedures of the Coalition Forces in targeting the legitimate military target were carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law and its customary rules. JIAT also recommended that voluntary assistance be provided for the loss of the welding workshop.
Al-Mansour pointed out that the JIAT reports on realistic, clear and documented evidence, not on what is published in the social media, and that the Group formed a single system for the protection of human rights and the reduction of violations associated with military operations.


Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

Updated 18 February 2019
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Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

  • Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy
  • Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom

RIYADH: A major transformation is underway in Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with Pakistan, according to Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former ambassador to Islamabad.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, the former envoy said greater interaction between business and the private sectors in both countries will take the historical bond “to a new level.” 

Asseri, who spent nine years in Islamabad and was the second-longest serving Saudi ambassador to the country, said: “We know that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always enjoyed an incomparable level of understanding and friendship based on religion, culture and values. There is a historical bond between the two countries. 

“I have no doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking a cohesive approach to strengthen the relationship and take it to another level.” 

Asseri said that while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperated closely on security matters, bilateral trade between the countries remained limited to about $4 billion. 

“We need to ... encourage the private sectors to interact more. We can help Pakistan’s industry and we need to become more involved in the trade sector. There are advanced industries and firms in Pakistan, and they have raw materials — it’s a good environment for investors.”

Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy. The Kingdom is also making billion-dollar direct investments in the country in line with the China-Pakistan economic corridor. 

“I am happy to see a major transformation underway in Saudi-Pakistani economic relationships with our leadership and government deciding to invest in the economic development of Pakistan,” he said. 

The former ambassador said frequent official visits between the two countries were important. 

“I came back recently from Pakistan, and the vibe of the media, government and people was so optimistic. Pakistanis were excited about the crown prince’s visit. People hope it will bring great opportunities for the economy as well as strengthening the political and social ties between the two countries,” he said.

Asseri said Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had faced many challenges together in recent decades.

In 2001, during Asseri’s first year as Saudi ambassador in Pakistan, the 9/11 attacks on New York led to greater cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh in dealing with terrorism.

The Kingdom had been closely involved with Pakistan since its independence, he said. “King Abdul Aziz sent King Saud and Prince Faisal to Pakistan at that time. So if we go back through history, we can see that this relationship is truly unique.” 

Asseri also highlighted the ties between the two countries on humanitarian issues, security and military issues, saying: “Pakistan has suffered serious security and humanitarian consequences of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, besides housing millions of Afghan refugees.

“Together Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have worked for peace in Afghanistan and will do whatever it takes to achieve this long-desired goal.”

Asseri said Pakistanis were quick to show their appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s assistance in the past regardless of the change in Pakistani leadership over the years. 

“The relationship is unique because it is between people. Such a relationship (will) keep growing with every generation.

“When Pakistan was in a difficult position in 2005 after a devastating earthquake, Saudi Arabia went out of its way to provide the support it needed. Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and eight ministers visited Balochistan. Field hospitals were created with Saudi doctors treating people and performing surgery there.” 

Pakistan also has a deep loyalty to Saudi Arabia, Asseri said. “Pakistan has military expertise, and through cooperation between the two countries, it helped the Saudi military during its development.” 

“The Kingdom’s recent appointment of a Saudi commercial attache in Pakistan will also bolster the economic links between the two countries,” he said. 

“There are good minds in Pakistan and good products that could be manufactured in Saudi Arabia.”

Asseri said he is also optimistic that Saudi plans to build a major oil refinery in Gwadar will help create an “economic hub.” 

The former envoy said the Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan will add to the relationship between the countries. 

Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom. 

“Young Pakistanis who are advanced in the IT and industrial sectors are looking forward to helping and cooperating with Saudi Arabia, and sharing their experiences and knowledge,” he said.