US should not curb aid to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, says Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, March 15, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 16 March 2019
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US should not curb aid to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, says Pompeo

WASHINGTON:  The Trump administration opposes curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.

His remarks came two days after the US Senate voted to end American support for the war against Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen.

The White House has already threatened a veto, calling the Senate vote “flawed” and saying it would harm relations with Saudi Arabia and hinder Washington’s ability to fight extremism.

Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), welcomed Pompeo’s stance.

“Pompeo said nothing but the facts with regard to Yemen and the danger posed by Iranian proxies,” said Al-Ansari. The Saudi-led coalition is in Yemen to enforce UN Security Council resolution 2216, which “clearly states that the Houthis should put down their arms and hand the occupied territories over to the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said.

The “internal political polarization” in the US is very dangerous, Al-Ansari said. “The US political fabric, from the right to the left, should seek a more balanced and realistic view of the challenges in the Middle East, and fully support Saudi efforts to eradicate terrorism at its roots,” Al-Ansari said.

It is unfortunate that some members of the US Congress are “somehow siding with a group that raises the banner of ‘Death to America,’” Al-Ansari said.

“This sends a very dangerous signal to non-state actors, such as the Houthis, that they have immunity despite their terrorist activities.”


US accuses Iran of destabilizing Mideast with missile program

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago
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US accuses Iran of destabilizing Mideast with missile program

  • Cites Iran’s support to the Houthi movement in Yemen and to Hezbollah in Lebanon
  • Says Iran's ballistic missile test and satellite launches violated UN Security Council resolution

JEDDAH: Iran’s missile program is destabilizing the Middle East, and Tehran risks starting a regional arms race by supplying weapons to armed groups in Lebanon and Yemen, a senior US arms control official said on Tuesday.

“Iran must immediately cease activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and halt the proliferation of missiles and missile technology to terror groups and other non-state actors,” Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, said in a speech to the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Iran’s missile program is a key contributor to increased tensions and destabilization in the region, increasing the risk of a regional arms race,” she said, denouncing Iran’s support to the Houthi movement in Yemen and to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

She said Iran had provided ballistic missiles to the Houthis that were fired into Saudi Arabia and unmanned aerial systems to Houthi groups that enable strikes against land-based targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “We are committed to aggressively countering Iran’s regional proliferation of ballistic missiles and its unlawful arms transfers,” she said.

US President Donald Trump said when he quit the 2015 deal that lifted international sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities that the agreement failed to rein in Iran’s missile program or curb its regional meddling.

The US has accused Iran of defying a UN Security Council resolution by carrying out a ballistic missile test and two satellite launches since December.

Poblete urged “all responsible countries” to enforce UN Security Council resolutions restricting the transfer of missile-related technologies to Iran. She also accused Iran of “pursuing pharmaceutical-based agents for offensive purposes,” but did not provide details.

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said Iran had the largest ballistic program in the Middle East. “Through its ballistic missile program, the Iranian regime appears determined to escalate tensions in the region and seek every opportunity to project its power in order to reassert its hegemony,” he said. “The international community ought to hold Tehran accountable for its military adventurism and violations of international standards.”