Senate vote ‘signals US support for Yemen war effort’

The war has killed more than 10,000 people, crippled Yemen’s economy and left more than 22 million of the country’s 25 million people dependent on aid handouts.
Updated 22 March 2018

Senate vote ‘signals US support for Yemen war effort’

NEW YORK: A US Senate vote against a resolution on Yemen’s civil war signaled that Washington would continue to back Arab coalition military operations there, former US officials told Arab News on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 55-44 to drop the resolution, which was aimed at halting US support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, saying that such backing was not authorized by Congress and had led to widespread suffering.
According to the former officials, the vote signaled that lawmakers are worried about Yemeni civilian deaths, but that Riyadh can expect continued US support with targeting and the midair refueling of its warplanes in Yemen.
“I don’t think the congressional action will change the degree of America’s involvement, if only because (US Defense Secretary) Jim Mattis will convince them in private not to,” Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon official, told Arab News.
“Ongoing resolutions such as this cannot entirely be ignored, and given the Crown prince’s inclination (to ultimately extricate Saudi Arabia from the war), this is just another push in the same direction.”
Nabeel Khoury, an Atlantic Council scholar and former State Department official, said the vote indicated concern among lawmakers about the war, but not that Congress was “forcing the hand of the administration” to halt military support in Yemen.
But lawmakers were likely to continue raising the issue and have indicated a “strong expression of sympathy with Yemen and concern over the US involvement in that war,” Khoury said.
The vote came on the same day that US President Donald Trump met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House for talks about the Iran-backed Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen and other regional security threats.
A White House statement said they “discussed the threat the Houthis pose to the region, assisted by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.” They also addressed the humanitarian crisis and the need for a political solution.
The crown prince also met lawmakers. Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the chamber’s Foreign Relations Committee, said senators questioned the crown prince closely about Yemen during a meeting with him on Tuesday.
In an emailed statement to Arab News, the Saudi Embassy said they discussed “countering the threat posed by Iran and the Iran-backed Houthi militias” and Saudi “efforts to address and alleviate the humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, said the vote marked a “significant” development. “It highlights common understanding and shared strategic and geopolitical interests between the US and Saudi Arabia to take tangible measures in confronting the Iranian regime and the Houthis. Tehran continues to expand its proxy war in the region and illegally arm the Houthis,” he told Arab News. “In addition, as a result of this development, the logistical, tactical, intelligence and military cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia will more likely increase, which would pave the way to more effectively counter Iran regime and its militias.”
The war has killed more than 10,000 people, crippled Yemen’s economy and left more than 22 million of the country’s 25 million people dependent on aid handouts, including 11.3 million who are in acute need, the UN says.
The Arab coalition, armed and backed by the West, joined the conflict in March 2015 after the Houthis pushed toward Aden, forcing the internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia deserves praise for best Hajj arrangements

Muslim pilgrims leave after offering noon prayers outside the Namirah mosque on Arafat Mountain, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 26 January 2020

Saudi Arabia deserves praise for best Hajj arrangements

  • Presence of 2.6 million Indian expats in Saudi Arabia boosts bilateral ties

On the occasion of India’s 71st Republic Day, I extend my best wishes to my fellow Indian citizens in the western region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations which reflect centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties.
Visits by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016 and in October 2019 plus the exchanges of other high-level visits have further strengthened the warm relations between the two countries.
As our prime minister said during his visit in October 2019, India would work hand-in-hand with Saudi Arabia on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.  
The presence of over 2.6 million Indian expatriates in the Kingdom has also contributed immensely to the strength of economic and socio-cultural ties between our two nations.
Bilateral trade delegations have also increased in the last few years. Indian business delegations are now a regular feature of trade exhibitions in Jeddah and other parts of the Kingdom. The Indian Consulate in Jeddah works tirelessly and diligently to provide the best possible service to Indian nationals residing in the western region of the Kingdom.
This good service includes reducing to three working days the length of time required for issuing/reissuing passports.
The introduction of an e-visa facility for Saudi nationals has further streamlined visa processing and provides a smooth first step for those wanting to visit India.
The Indian government and the people of India are grateful to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hajj Minister Dr. Mohammed Benten for making excellent arrangements during Hajj 2019. In that year, 200,000 Indian nationals performed Hajj and more than 650,000 Indians came for Umrah.
The Indian side remains committed to partnering closely with Saudi Arabia and working toward a very successful Hajj 2020.
We sincerely express our gratitude to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi ministries of foreign affairs, labor, interior and the authorities of Jawazat, Tarheel and other concerned agencies who have always provided exemplary assistance to the consulate which has enabled the comfortable stay of the many Indians visiting, living, and working in the Kingdom.


• Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh is India’s consul general in Jeddah.