Yemen strongly condemns Houthi attack near Makkah

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mekhlafi. (Reuters file photo)
Updated 30 October 2016

Yemen strongly condemns Houthi attack near Makkah

JEDDAH: Yemeni government on Friday said Houthis failed attempt to attack Makkah undermines regional stability and proves they are a menace to world stability.
“We seek peace and they seek war; we look for the stability of Yemen and the region, and they look for destruction and sedition, and reaffirm they are a menace to the world peace,” Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mekhlafi said on Friday, adding that the deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthi militias are seeking a regional war to implement their plans offensive to Arabs and Muslims, and show that those "criminal gangs" have no respect for the sanctity of Islam.
"This criminal act is additional proof that the Houthis are the tool Iran is using to destroy Yemen and its neighboring countries," he said.
Seperately, the Yemeni government on Friday denounced and condemned in the strongest and harshest words the blatant ballistic missile attack on Makkah by Houthi and forces of ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh, describing the assault as a clear violation of all international norms and values, and human ethics and morals.
“This irresponsible act reveals the true face of the Houthis and proves their sectarian nature driven by Iran, through its puppets in the region, which has been campaigning for a sectarian incitement recently against Saudi Arabia,” a Yemeni government official said in a statement sent to Arab News yesterday, adding that the attack and the recklessness of Houthi militias and Saleh forces reflect their association with the destructive Persian scheme against Arabs and all Muslims as well as sacred Muslim shrines.
 He pointed out that the Yemeni people and government reject and condemn this flagrant and criminal assault by the Houthis against the feelings of millions of Muslims, adding that Yemen fully supports and stands in solidarity with Saudi Arabia and its wise leadership in confronting anyone trying to compromise its security and stability, or dare to target the religious shrines.
The official called on all Arab and Muslims states to support Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government, the legitimate government that is being internationally recognized, and the Arab coalition in their efforts to restore the hijacked legitimacy from the putschists and those supporting them, in aborting their dangerous plans deemed destructive for the present and the future of the Arab and Islamic nation.
“We urge the UN, the Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to immediately mobilize efforts and take strict measures to put an end to Iran’s blatant interventions through their tools to sabotage the region, and not just issue statements of condemnation or denunciation,” he said.
 The official pointed out that the Houthi militias confirm through this behavior, in addition to their previous attempts to target ships in the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb undermining the freedom of international maritime movement, and their daily crimes against Yemenis, that it is still determined to proceed with its subversive and destructive disregard of all the international community’s binding decisions aimed at putting an end to the suffering of the Yemenis and ending the war sparked by the rebel group.
 He said the restoration of the legitimate state by ending the coup, and the application of the terms of reference agreed upon locally and internationally for a political solution, based on the GCC initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue and UNSC Resolution 2216, is the only way to address the perils of the Houthis at the local, regional and international levels.

Iraq anti-corruption drive stops short of snaring worst culprits

Updated 14 min 37 sec ago

Iraq anti-corruption drive stops short of snaring worst culprits

  • Abdul Mahdi is ‘hostage to parties that appointed him a year ago to lead one of the world’s most corrupt countries’

BAGHDAD: Following a wave of deadly anti-government protests, Baghdad has announced a slew of measures to stem corruption — but stopped short of targeting the worst offenders.

Analysts say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, an independent with no real popular support, is hostage to the parties that appointed him a year ago to lead one of the world’s most corrupt countries.

That makes it exceptionally hard for him to point fingers at the main culprits, they say.

Since dictator Saddam Hussein’s ouster in a US-led invasion in 2003, $450 billion have evaporated into thin air, either in fake contracts or deep into the pockets of corrupt politicians, according to official data.

“The question of corruption can only be dealt with seriously and decisively,” a government anti-corruption official said, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the subject.

“But the prime minister can’t do that because he knows that all (politicians) are involved and that they were chin deep in corrupt dealings well before he took up his post,” the official said.

Anti-graft campaign group Transparency International last year ranked Iraq the world’s 12th-most corrupt country, based on expert analysis and opinion surveys.

The problem is so endemic that Iraqis have a nickname for the biggest culprits: “Hitan,” Arabic for “whales.”

The official cited three common practices: Border guards taking bribes to waive customs duties, illegal petrol trading, and unlawful buying and selling of state-owned land and luxury homes.

The final practice, sometimes involving properties confiscated from ex-regime officials, implicates some parties and politicians currently in power, the official said.

An official from the office of the Petroleum Ministry’s inspector general said “many incidents of corruption” had been uncovered.

The department “managed to stop the construction of an oil pipeline to Jordan, because each kilometer was being priced at $1.5 million,” a price it deemed excessive, he said on condition of anonymity.

The operation snared oil traffickers and transport company owners “linked to corrupt parties,” he added.

But in a blow to officials working to tackle corruption, Parliament has “frozen” the work of anti-corruption offices that had been set up in each of Iraq’s ministries.

“This decision does nothing to improve the day-to-day lives of demonstrators who are strangled by poverty,” said the official, currently on enforced leave.

“It’s only going to encourage corrupt officials to keep doing what they want.” According to the official from the government’s anti-corruption commission, the decision to freeze the inspectors’ activities “targets low-ranking civil servants, while it is the mafias from the big parties” who are most at fault.

Abdul Mahdi has announced that “a list of names of 1,000 civil servants” accused of corruption had been referred to the courts.

Soon afterward, he promised, “a first list of high-ranking officials will be brought before justice.”

Among those named were ex-ministers and officials still in office, according to Abdul Mahdi’s office, although no names have yet been announced officially.

In recent years, at least two trade ministers have been convicted for corruption. But by the time their judgment was read, the ministers had already fled abroad. The problem is so widespread in Iraq that anti-corruption protests have become something of a tradition.

In the latest round, which erupted on Oct. 1, 110 people were killed — the vast majority of them protesters who were shot dead.

The spontaneity of the demonstrations, as well as their intensity, have put an unprecedented amount of pressure on the authorities, said MP Huda Sajjad.

Sajjad, an MP on the list of ex-PM Haider Abadi who is now in opposition, believes measures currently in place simply aren’t up to the task of stamping out corruption.

“The anti-corruption measures don’t meet expectations,” Sajjad said. “Corruption is what keeps all the parties working together in the system.” But the pressure on the government is relentless.

On Saturday and Sunday, firebrand Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr called on supporters to turn this weekend’s Arbaeen religious commemorations into anti-corruption rallies.

Protesters have called for fresh demonstrations on Oct. 25 — the first anniversary of Abdul Mahdi’s government.