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 justice minister appoints first woman to senior position at alimony fund

Saudi Justice Ministry. (SPA)
Updated 29 January 2020

Saudi justice minister appoints first woman to senior position at alimony fund

  • More women are also working in the ministry’s digital transformation project, and in related fields such as computer science, software engineering and information systems

JEDDAH: The minister of justice and president of the Supreme Judicial Council, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, has ordered the appointment of Shorooq bint Mohammed Al-Jadaan as deputy director-general for alimony affairs. She is the first woman to assume a leading position at the alimony fund.
The fund aims to ensure alimony is paid to beneficiaries as quickly as possible, and help achieve a financial balance for families, in fulfillment of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.
“This appointment is not surprising from a ministry and a country that has taken upon itself to ensure equity and empowerment for women in all governmental and private sectors,” said Saudi lawyer Nujood Qasim.
Such decisions strongly support efforts to raise the level of participation by women in the workforce, one of the goals of Vision 2030, by providing a wider range of career options and encouraging them to play a bigger role in the development of the country, Qasim added.
The second phase of the alimony fund was launched in November 2019. It has achieved a number of successes since its inception, in particular improving the speed of responses to requests and communication with applicants and beneficiaries through its online platform.
It has also reduced the time taken from final approval of applications to the payment of alimony, which can now be done in a matter of hours.
The Ministry of Justice has implemented a number of initiatives in the past few years to increase the number of female employees and improve their representation in promoted positions. In late 2017, it started to provide special sections for women in courts around the country and appoint female notaries. Previously it was rare for women to work in courts.
Women can now work as social researchers and administrative assistants. More women are also working in the ministry’s digital transformation project, and in related fields such as computer science, software engineering and information systems.
In addition, there has been a huge increase in the number of registered female lawyers, from only 10 in 2013 to 487 by November last year.