Arab coalition in Yemen: We respect humanitarian rights

HELPING THE WAR-HIT: Aid for all Yemenis affected by war, regardless of religious views or backgrounds, is the motto of the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works.
Updated 26 May 2016
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Arab coalition in Yemen: We respect humanitarian rights

RIYADH: The Saudi-led Arab military coalition fighting Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen said Thursday it respects international humanitarian law, denying accusations by rights groups.
The coalition command, in a statement, gave assurances that it “respects the rules of international humanitarian law and human rights in all its military operations” in Yemen.
“To defend civilians and shelter them from the impact of the conflict,” the coalition had imposed “strict... rules of engagement in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law.”
As well as identifying targets, these rules also focused on the use of precision weapons and dropping leaflets warning people in areas with military targets, it added.
The coalition was also evaluating its air strikes in Yemen and investigates allegations about some incidents, the command said.
The coalition intervened in Yemen in April 2015 after Iran-backed Houthi militias, conspiring with loyalists of the
Non-governmental organizations have repeatedly accused the coalition of being responsible for the deaths of civilians in Yemen since intervening on the side of the country’s internationally recognized government in March 2015.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch accused the Arab coalition of indiscriminate bombing in Yemen, but also said the Houthis were to blame for abuses committed on the ground.
In late February, Amnesty International said it had documented a series of serious humanitarian and rights violations, including war crimes, since the Arab intervention.
The United Nations has repeatedly warned about the threat of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Yemen, where more than 6,400 people have been killed in 14 months of war. 


Iraqi cleric Al-Sadr threatens to withdraw support for Abdul Mahdi’s government

Updated 2 min 54 sec ago
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Iraqi cleric Al-Sadr threatens to withdraw support for Abdul Mahdi’s government

BAGHDAD: Moqtada Al-Sadr, the powerful Iraqi Shiite cleric, on Monday threatened to withdraw his support for the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi if the prime minister fails to finalize the formation of his Cabinet within 10 days.
Al-Sadr is one of the most influential clerics in the country, with millions of followers, a large armed faction and a parliamentary bloc. He is the official sponsor of the Reform Alliance, the second-largest parliamentary coalition, which is overseeing the formation of the government following the national parliamentary elections in May last year. The removal of his support for Abdul Mahdi’s government might take the form of an announcement that he no longer has confidence in the Parliament, or the organization of mass demonstrations.
Abdul Mahdi, who became prime minister in October, formed his government with the support of Reform and the pro-Iranian Construction coalition. The latter is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, one of the most powerful Shiite armed factions. However, disputes between the two alliances over some of the candidates erupted at the last minute, as a result of which four ministries remain vacant: Interior, defense, education and justice.

Monday’s statement, which was signed by Al-Sadr and described as his “last call,” was addressed to his Saeiroon parliamentary bloc, the leaders of all political blocs, and Abdul Mahdi. It was issued in response to criticism on social on Monday because of the vote by members of the parliamentary blocs, including Al-Sadr’s MPs, the day before to grant all the privileges enjoyed by the former MPs to the deputies who ruled out by the Federal Supreme Court due to the error of counting their votes.
“All the political blocs must authorize the prime minister to complete his ministerial Cabinet within 10 days…and he (Abdul Mahdi) must choose (the ministers) according to the standards of integrity, efficiency and specialization, or I will not support him,” Al-Sadr’s statement read.

His position is the latest in a series of events that have put pressure on Abdul Mahdi in recent weeks. These include efforts by some political blocs, including Saeiroon, to dismiss a number of ministers under the pretext of failure to improve services and inability to combat the financial and administrative corruption that is rampant in their departments.
While most political leaders believe that reaching a political agreement on candidates to fill the vacant ministries within 10 days “will be very difficult” and predict “this may be the end of the government of Abdul Mahdi,” some believe that Al-Sadr’s goal is to pile more pressure on Abdul Mahdi as a way to obtain certain concessions.

“Saeiroon is still negotiating with the prime minister and the other political partners to obtain some key government posts that its rivals are looking to get, and Abdul Mahdi refused to give them to the Saeiroon candidates, so this could be a part of this,” said a prominent Shiite negotiator who asked not to be named. “No one can predict what Al-Sadr thinks and even his MPs do not know what the man thinks, so it is likely that this threat is part of the ongoing negotiations.”