Operation to take Hodeidah essential for Yemenis, security of Red Sea: Saudi ambassador to US

File photo showing Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, arriving at Capitol Hill in Washington. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2018

Operation to take Hodeidah essential for Yemenis, security of Red Sea: Saudi ambassador to US

  • Prince Khalid: 'Coalition operations to liberate Hodeidah aim to support the freedom of Yemenis against the Houthi militia.'
  • 'Operations to re-take Hodeidah are important to secure Red Sea maritime routes.'

LONDON: The Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman defended the coalition advance on Hodeidah, assuring the world that it was done to secure Yemen and maritime routes in the Red Sea.

Prince Khalid said that the "operations to liberate the city of Hodeidah are in line with the support delivered by the Saudi-led Arab coalition to the Yemeni people, and a way to support their freedom against the militia supported by Iran bent on sowing chaos and destruction in the country."

The Saudi ambassador was speaking as operation ‘Golden Victory’ launched by the Saudi-led coalition to re-take Hodeidah port and town has been gaining momentum after Yemeni forces, backed by coalition air power, advanced to areas south of Hodeidah on Yemen’s western Red Sea coast. Yemeni forces on Wednesday got closer to Hodeidah after taking control of the suburb of Nekheila south of the town.

Prince Khalid added in a separate tweet that the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Hodeidah are important in light of the increased threat the militias controlling the port have been posing for maritime security in the Red Sea. The ambassador noted that Hodeidah port, which is on the Red Sea close to the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, "is a vital waterway through which 15 percent of world trade passes annually as well as regional trade and commerce." He added that "Iran-backed Houthi militia have launched repeated attacks on commercial and military ships belonging to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US."

In later tweets, Prince Khalid reminded the world that "the Kingdom has been and will continue to be at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to support the brotherly people of Yemen." He added that Saudi Arabia has supported Yemen all along and "these efforts included the recent contribution of $1.5 billion to UN relief efforts in Yemen, the largest in UN history, as well as initiatives to enhance the capacity of ports throughout Yemen including facilitiating the entry of cranes into Hodeidah." The ambassador reiterated his country’s position regarding an end to the conflict, saying that "the most effective solution to the situation in Hodeidah, and in Yemen, is for the Houthi militias to adhere to UNSC resolution 2216 which calls for the unconditional withdrawal from all occupied cities."

He added that Houthi militias continue to obstruct UN mediation efforts to end the conflict, leading special UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffith to propose handing over control of Hodeidah port to the UN, which is the same proposal made by the coalition many months ago.


Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

Updated 33 min 46 sec ago

Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

  • People celebrating Eid alone or abroad find ways to stay positive

JEDDAH: For different reasons many people living in the Kingdom have found themselves alone for the holidays due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, their spirits dampened as they are forced to stay home alone, away from loved ones.

As the pandemic enters its third month in Saudi Arabia, flights have not yet resumed, strict social distancing and safety measures are still in place and curfews have been reimposed to curb the spread of the virus during the Eid holidays.

Many families are stranded in cities across the Kingdom, while Saudis studying and working abroad are either stuck or have chosen to spend summer where they are out of fear they will not be able to return and start their new semesters.

Some people were able to move in with their families and quarantine together, while others were deprived of that chance.

A number of Saudi nationals, including students, have been repatriated in the past couple of weeks while others are still waiting for their turn.

Yousef Al-Ayesh, a 21-year-old senior student at Arizona State University, has been at home since late March as a precautionary measure.

He said that Eid with his family in Jeddah was one event that everyone looked forward to all year long. Under normal circumstances the first three days of Eid would be filled with events — family dinners at night and beach excursions during the day. Although he would be sleep-deprived, he would still make the most of the little time he spent with his family due to his studies.

“With all that’s going on, it doesn’t even feel like it’s Eid,” he told Arab News. 

“It most probably would have been different if I was back in Saudi Arabia but I still wouldn’t have been able to celebrate it the same way. It’s not that bad here (in the US) now since restaurants have reopened and my friends and I have the outdoors to enjoy, have a barbecue, or just hang out. I would have felt worse if I was alone. Ramadan was already odd enough, I don’t think I would have been OK if it were the case without them.”

Although his family lives 8,000 miles away he did not feel alone as his group of friends decided to celebrate together, even without the perks of new clothes and eidiyas from aunts and uncles.

It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed

Al-Ayesh hoped to be repatriated to the Kingdom soon and spend some time with his family after his mandatory quarantine.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed, a 29-year-old expat working and living in Riyadh, said this year’s Eid was tough without his family.

Although he is used to living alone because of his job, Eid was the one occasion he looked forward to the most every year because he got to travel to Cairo and be with his family.

“My family moved from Jeddah to Cairo about four or five years ago and Eid is a significant occasion in the family, Eid Al-Fitr is significantly more special than Eid Al-Adha even,” he told Arab News. “I look forward to traveling to see them every year since moving to Riyadh but wasn’t able to with the lockdown, so we all got together on FaceTime video call and spent the whole day speaking to family members.”

Like many expats, Fareed has spent the past months at home and said it was hard for him and his family but that communication had made the ordeal slightly easier.

“It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way,” he added.