Top Typhoon jets deployed in air raids

Updated 09 April 2015
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Top Typhoon jets deployed in air raids

The Saudi Air Force has deployed top Typhoon jets, known for their maneuverability and speed, for the first time in the bombing campaign on Houthi positions in Yemen.
Only six countries in the world own Typhoon jets. They are Saudi Arabia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain. The Kingdom bought 72 in an $8-billion deal with Britain and has received 24, which were assembled in the country.
The deal includes training of Saudi pilots and technicians. Hundreds of qualified citizens have now been deployed to work on these planes. The first two were delivered to the King Fahd Airbase in Taif.
The Typhoon plane is equipped with the latest technology. It can take off quickly if needed, is highly maneuverable and cannot be detected on radar. It can carry 13 rockets, four under each wing and five under the fuselage. It can also carry cruise missiles and anti-ground defense systems.

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Tehran’s massive mistake in Yemen

Tehran’s massive mistake in Yemen

Iran has undoubtedly miscalculated badly by interfering in Yemen. It seems Tehran relied on the long-standing policy of Gulf nations to avoid direct confrontation and war in preference for dialogue and peace. It only expected statements condemning the Houthi action in Yemen, and not the operation launched by the Saudi-led coalition.
It appears that Iran had deluded itself that it could construct a new Persian empire after taking control of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Of course, it was aided in these grandiose dreams by hesitation in the Arab world and US stupidity in dealing with Iraq, which paved the way for the mullahs to occupy Baghdad. Similarly, they support the ruling regime in Damascus and back Hezbollah’s significant presence in Lebanon.
Iranian officials have openly boasted about their neo-imperialist designs. Ali Younesi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s adviser on Ethnic and Religious Minorities, stated recently: “Iran is an empire as it was historically. Its capital is Baghdad, which was the center of our culture and civilization throughout history.” This statement exemplifies the danger posed by Iran, particularly since it is expressed by a leading government official.
Just like any other state, Iran is entitled to protect and advance its interests. However, it is promoting a sectarian policy that is a dangerous mix of politics and religious beliefs. This has created deep-seated hatred and enmity across the region that is becoming increasingly difficult to overcome through negotiations.
Iran is without doubt an important regional player, as it has been for centuries, but it has to abide by international laws and respect the sovereignty of other nations, by not interfering in their internal affairs. The framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached in Lausanne is one attempt to ensure that Tehran plays within the rules.
Saudi Arabia, however, has somewhat preempted the Lausanne agreement by launching military action in Yemen, provoked by the Houthis’ arrival in Aden and targeting of the presidential headquarters, a move which violated all peaceful attempts to address their stated grievances.
Saudi Arabia has a special relationship with Yemen, and hosts 2 million Yemenis who remit billions home every year. The Kingdom and other Gulf nations have been the main supporters of Yemen for decades. It should therefore be clear to objective observers that Operation Decisive Storm is aimed squarely at restoring the legitimate government and ensuring a stable neighbor.
Arabs were in dire need of a significant event to restore their self-confidence and allow them to determine their own fate, particularly after the Houthis rejected the political overtures of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Nations. War is part of politics, but should always be a last resort.
An added headache for those seeking peace was the duplicity of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who sent his son Ahmad two days before Operation Decisive Storm to plea for the lifting of UN sanctions against him, which would allow him to travel and transfer money.
The Gulf nations made a mistake to trust him and grant him immunity under their protection. This is a man who clearly has not changed. He has shown time and again that he is not in any way remorseful for having run Yemen into the ground for decades, and is still only out for personal gain. The Arab world has had many such tyrants.
Decisive Storm has been an unprecedented success, having been painstakingly and calmly planned in secret by Saudi Arabia and its allies. There are clear conditions attached to the endgame here as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman outlined in his speech at the recent summit in Sharm Al-Sheikh: “We wish to hear the voice of reason from those who rebelled against the legitimate (government). We wish to see an end to the seeking of foreign support to bully and abuse the dear Yemeni people. We wish to see an end to the stoking of sectarian tensions and (the sowing) of seeds of terror.”
For the Houthis and others there is an opportunity emerging, to construct a modern state based on the rule of law. Arab nations, in turn, must play their part in rebuilding the country’s shattered economy, which would underpin this constitutional state.
This is an ambitious but achievable plan if reason prevails and there is an honest attempt by all Yemenis to seek a political solution for their problems. It is critically important for them to seize the opportunity.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Permanent peace not tactics

Permanent peace not tactics

Russia’s call for a “humanitarian” pause in the conflict in Yemen would have had more impact and given the UN Security Council a stronger mandate if Russia had elaborated on the fact that it is the Houthi faction that has ignored calls for a cease-fire and peace and made the incursions against global public opinion.
If there was a consensus to hold fire it would have to come with the rider that it is not used to regroup and replenish its armament to win a second wind.
This would be a legitimate fear for the coalition that never wanted an escalation in the first place and was left with no choice. This could also be the possible concern for the council not yet giving its okay to any such initiative.
The other aspect that needs discussing and inclusion in any multi-lateral negotiations is the recognition that Al-Qaeda still holds a fair amount of sway in the western regions of Yemen.
As things stand, the situation in Sanaa is grim but any offer by the Houthi leaders to come to the table has to be seen as move with the right intent and indicative of an unconditional surrender.
Otherwise, this huge commitment by Saudi Arabia and others comes to naught even if the freeze is for a 24-hour period.
There is an irony in that the coalition has no desire to pursue aggression but needs to know in no uncertain terms that sitting across the table is not a ruse and that assurance can only come from those who support the Houthis and have allowed them to take the current conflict into the urban enclaves.
The use of human shields is a major factor in the rising casualties and that is why the call to peace might well initiate the need to send in the coalition troops to ensure that disarming the factions is integral to the negotiations for the return of law, order and due process.
This is the right time for elements who can persuade the Houthi leadership to see the sense in putting down arms and ending the fighting to do just that.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

New Arab order to defend region

New Arab order to defend region

After more than two years of negotiations Iran has reached a framework agreement with the international community over its controversial nuclear program. It would take another three months to agree on technical details but both parties are already celebrating what has been described as an historic deal.
The long-term agreement would guarantee that Iran’s program will remain peaceful and that Tehran will never be able to build a nuclear weapon. From now on its activities will be subject to international verification and monitoring. In return related UN, US and European sanctions will be removed, allowing Iran’s economy to recover.
But what is probably more important than the agreement is the fact that Iran will be able to reverse its position as a pariah state and be welcomed back into the international community. Critics of the agreement, including Israel and a number of Arab states, believe that Iran will now feel free to press on with its regional agenda; one that threatens the stability and security of the entire region. Already Tehran is accused of interfering in the affairs of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. For Israel, Iran is seen as posing an existential threat that must be contained.
Much of these concerns are based on facts. Iran has become a major player in the region and is seen as being responsible for igniting sectarian confrontations in a number of Arab countries. The latest deal will boost its regional ambitions and deepen Arab suspicions, especially in the Gulf area. This is why President Obama has called on Gulf leaders to meet with him at Camp David in May to discuss regional security concerns.
But dealing with perceived Iranian threats will require much more than building pacts and investing in military hardware. The Arab order has been stagnating for decades. Today it is being challenged in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and others. Religious extremism and sectarian conflicts have evolved to present this dilapidated order with fresh challenges. And so far Arab response to these challenges has been confused and contradictory. To protect the national security of one state, the entire order must be rebuild from scratch. Only a strong Arab system that stretches from Morocco to Oman will be able to reinvent itself and be ready face regional competitors such as Iran, Turkey and Israel.
The conflict in Yemen presents the GCC with a tough challenge where military intervention will not be enough to end the Houthi rebellion and put the country back on the path of recovery. A land incursion will complicate matters further.
In light of Iran’s growing regional influence, Arab leaders must rethink their strategy. Fresh ideas are needed to build a regional coalition that is based on collective security and common sustainable development; two objectives that the Arab League has failed to achieve.
Only a strong Arab order can check Iran’s territorial and political ambitions. The challenges facing the Arab world today are complicated and diverse. They range from religious extremism to unemployment and poverty. A new approach to these challenges will have to be created; one that seeks to deal with the region as an entity and not with the plight of one country at the expense of the other.
This new Arab order will have to tackle security threats, regional crises as well as long-term social, economic and development issues. It will require a new definition of pan-Arab cooperation where the national security of one country becomes part and parcel of the security of all.
Today Arab national security is being tested in more than one country. What happens in Syria or Iraq will affect the stability of the rest of Arab countries. And the chaos in Libya and Yemen poses serious challenges to the entire Arab order and not only the GCC.
The fact is Iran would not dare meddle in the affairs of Syria, Iraq and Yemen if Arab countries adopted a united approach and a common strategy. And by the same token lack of such strategy will encourage Iran and others to interfere in Arab affairs.
What is needed now is to forge a plan to enhance inter-Arab cooperation along a comprehensive approach to the challenges facing this region. As a start the charter of the Arab League will have to be rewritten in a way that takes into consideration the realities of the region. The driving force will have to be economic cooperation that confronts the issues of unemployment and poverty; two main reasons for the growth of extremism in the region. It’s a tall order but leaders should act now in order to create momentum for a new regional bloc that will be able to defend the security and stability of the region.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Saudi Arabia’s first ‘smart’ pharmacy inaugurated

Updated 55 min 35 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s first ‘smart’ pharmacy inaugurated

TABUK: Prince Fahd bin Sultan, governor of Tabuk region, inaugurated the Kingdom’s first smart pharmacy — operated by a robot — at King Fahd Specialist Hospital on Thursday, following his meeting with the province’s director general of health affairs, Ghurmallah bin Abdullah Al-Ghamdi.
It is hoped that the smart pharmacy — which can dispense 1,500 packages of medicine per hour, store over 20,000 packages of medicine, reject expired drugs, and deal with 240 prescriptions per hour — will save the time of patients and pharmacists, ensure better control of drug stocks, provide the highest safety standards, and reduce medication errors.
The pharmacy has six outlets, one of which is dedicated to serving disabled people.
Prince Fahd congratulated Tabuk Health Affairs on this achievement, which he said would contribute to better health care services.
He stressed that serving citizens was the main objective and praised the role of young men and women in meeting the requirements of the future.
He also thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support for the health care sector in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ghamdi thanked Prince Fahd for his support for the health care sector in the province.