Saudi Arabia: UN human rights report on Yemen flawed

The Yemeni army has so far removed over 300,000 landmines planted by Iran-backed Houthi militias. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia: UN human rights report on Yemen flawed

  • The Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said that the Kingdom had written to the UN High Commission with its criticisms
  • The ambassador said the report ignored the fact that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias obstructed humanitarian aid into Yemen and detained and looted many vessels carrying aid

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has strongly criticized the report of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights for Yemen, saying it had fallen away from objectivity, rushed to conclusions and made several errors in its approach and contents.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said that the Kingdom had written back to the UN High Commission with its criticisms.
He said in a speech to the Human Rights Council during a dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report, which included the report of the international and regional expert group, that the report ignored the information provided for the Group of Experts during its meetings with agencies in the coalition for the support of legitimacy in Yemen.
Al-Wasel added that the Kingdom was surprised by the experts group’s claim that it did not receive specific information from the coalition countries about the targeting procedures, although they were informed of the procedures in place during the group’s visit to the coalition’s command in Riyadh.
It was also surprising, Al-Wasel said, that the experts group based its conclusions on guessing and expectations and the examination of a limited number of violations, when its mandate includes all violations since September 2014.
He said that the report clearly ignored the widespread violations that occurred when Houthi militias swept Yemeni cities, took control of the capital and the state’s institutions and chased the president and his government’s members, and this was the basis of the current Yemeni crisis.
The ambassador added that the report also ignored the fact that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias obstructed humanitarian aid into Yemen and detained and looted many vessels carrying aid.
He also said that ballistic missiles, more than 197 of which targeted Saudi Arabian cities, represent a violation of international humanitarian law, which was not mentioned in the report along with the violations of the Houthis. Nor did the report address the main role of Houthi militias in planting naval and land mines in violation of international law.
Al-Wasel said that the coalition affirms the need for the international community to support the legitimate government in Yemen and reactivate the state’s institutions.
He added that the coalition affirms its full commitment to all provisions of international humanitarian law. The coalition, he said, had developed mechanisms and measures to deal quickly and transparently with mistakes during military operations.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s permanent delegate to the UN, Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim told the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council that the report was “deeply flawed.”

“[The report] seems to hurl false accusations at the Saudi-led Coalition,” Al-Ghunaim said.

He said the UN experts singled out the coalition of Arab states fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia as accountable for the human rights violations in the war-torn country.

“The Arab Coalition never ceased to cooperate with the UN specialists in Yemen to ensure that civilian casualties are averted,” he said.

The Kuwaiti diplomat went on to give the Arab coalition credit for their “efforts to restore normalcy and hope to the lives of the Yemeni people.”


Several killed in blast in northwest Syria

Updated 45 min 46 sec ago
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Several killed in blast in northwest Syria

  • It was not clear if the cause of the blast near the market in the town of Jisr Al-Shughur was a car bomb, or a vehicle carrying explosives
  • All except one were civillians

BEIRUT: Fifteen people, all but two civilians, were killed in an explosion in the jihadist-held region of Idlib in northwest Syria on Wednesday, a war monitor said.
The cause of the blast in the town of Jisr Al-Shughur was not immediately clear, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The explosion hit next to the market,” killing 13 civilians, including the daughter of a foreign fighter, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
“It is not known until now whether it was a car bomb, or the explosion of a car carrying explosives,” he added.
The Idlib region is under administrative control of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
But the Turkestan Islamic Party, a group of foreign jihadists from the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority, also has a large presence in Jisr Al-Shughur.
The Islamic State jihadist group has sleeper cells in the wider Idlib region.
Idlib has since September been protected from a massive regime offensive by a fragile cease-fire deal signed by Damascus ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
But the region of some three million people has come under increasing bombardment since HTS took full control of it in January.
On Tuesday, regime shelling killed seven civilians, including four children, in the town of Khan Sheikhun.
Increased regime shelling on Khan Sheikhun has sparked one of the largest waves of displacement since the September deal.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since the conflict began with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.