EXCLUSIVE: Head of Yemen fact-finding team explains JIAT’s probing process, stresses independence

Spokesman of the Arab coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) on Yemen, Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour, holds a press conference in the capital Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 03 September 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Head of Yemen fact-finding team explains JIAT’s probing process, stresses independence

  • Investigation began immediately after incident, media reports were three days after
  • JIAT is “impartial” and has held the coalition forces responsible for 16 of 85 incidents in Yemen

RIYADH: The spokesman for the Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen, Mansour Al-Mansour said he welcomed the acceptance by the leadership of the Arab Coalition Forces in Yemen of the results of investigations surrounding the the Aug. 9, 2018 bus attack that left dozens dead.

The JIAT report published on Saturday found that an order had been issued not to strike the bus after delays in arming a fighter jet, as there were civilians nearby, but it arrived late.

Responding to claims that investigations only happened in Yemen when the media picked up stories, Al-Mansour said the team started its enquiries into the bus attack immediately after the incident — he said the media’s coverage of the strike began three days later Al-Mansour said the investigation lasted “only three weeks” from when the incident happened to the publication of the findings on Sept. 1, when it was complete.

He said the investigating team was made up of military experts from the countries in the coalition, as well as international humanitarian law specialists adding that the team was headed by a civilian representative.

He said the bus attack was evaluated for its military procedures, before a legal assessment of the processes involved was carried out to ensure it complied with international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention.

He said the team was formed on the request of the coalition countries, and while those involved were from the countries involved, they were fully independent of the military operations in Yemen.

 

Coalition forces

There have been claims in the international media that JIAT favors the coalition forces, but Al-Mansour said the team held the coalition forces responsible for 16 of 85 incidents in Yemen, whether due to personal, technical or accidental error. He added that the team had held the coalition forces responsible for some incidents in Yemen that were under investigation.

He added that investigations into the October, 2016, Great Hall incident, where mourners at a funeral were killed, due to inaccurate information, was a good example of the team’s impartiality.

“There are legal regulations that bind us and oblige the coalition countries, especially since they are signatories to the Geneva Conventions and the humanitarian law system,” Al-Mansour said.

He said the team’s goal was to achieve justice without any other considerations. And he added: “The team is monitored by the international community.”

All information it announced, he said, was done so within “a clear legal framework.” Al-Mansour said: “After we issue our reports, the concerned agencies in the coalition forces must take their legal action and announce the results of these legal measures taken.

 

Report

The coalition forces always welcome the results of the investigations conducted by the team, and this is another evidence of the seriousness of the coalition forces in dealing with all incidents that are held responsible for them.”

He said the findings of the report were transparent and impartial. Al-Mansour said information gathered by International organizations, via telephone, email, and other means was also presented.

“As a team, we investigate these incidents, and we have sufficient experience in distinguishing between the reports that have already been monitored by the organizations or the reports they received by telephone or email.

They refer the allegations to us, and we investigate them and present the facts to the world with transparency.

“There may be some incidents which the coalition forces were not fully responsible for. We investigate whether the coalition forces were present in the area or not.”

He said they looked into whether coalition forces had operations in the same location where an incident was claimed, and if there were any forces in the area. “If it is proven that coalition forces were not present in this area, we announce that immediately.”

Al-Mansour said there was good cooperation with international organizations monitoring incidents on the ground in Yemen.

“We have meetings with them. They listen to us and we listen to them,” he said. “They provide us with a lot of information about incidents.”


Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 17 min 16 sec ago

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Aramco says no staff injured in attacks
  • Aramco is currently working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.