US should not curb aid to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, says Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, March 15, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 16 March 2019

US should not curb aid to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, says Pompeo

WASHINGTON:  The Trump administration opposes curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.

His remarks came two days after the US Senate voted to end American support for the war against Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen.

The White House has already threatened a veto, calling the Senate vote “flawed” and saying it would harm relations with Saudi Arabia and hinder Washington’s ability to fight extremism.

Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), welcomed Pompeo’s stance.

“Pompeo said nothing but the facts with regard to Yemen and the danger posed by Iranian proxies,” said Al-Ansari. The Saudi-led coalition is in Yemen to enforce UN Security Council resolution 2216, which “clearly states that the Houthis should put down their arms and hand the occupied territories over to the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said.

The “internal political polarization” in the US is very dangerous, Al-Ansari said. “The US political fabric, from the right to the left, should seek a more balanced and realistic view of the challenges in the Middle East, and fully support Saudi efforts to eradicate terrorism at its roots,” Al-Ansari said.

It is unfortunate that some members of the US Congress are “somehow siding with a group that raises the banner of ‘Death to America,’” Al-Ansari said.

“This sends a very dangerous signal to non-state actors, such as the Houthis, that they have immunity despite their terrorist activities.”


Haftar agrees to lift Libya oil blockade with conditions

Updated 24 min 44 sec ago

Haftar agrees to lift Libya oil blockade with conditions

  • Pro-Haftar groups supported by the Petroleum Facilities Guard blockaded key oilfields and export terminals on January 17

BENGHAZI: Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announced Friday a conditional lifting of a months-long blockade on oilfields and ports by his forces.
“We have decided to resume oil production and export on condition of a fair distribution of revenues” and guarantee they “will not be used to support terrorism,” he said on television.
Pro-Haftar groups supported by the Petroleum Facilities Guard blockaded key oilfields and export terminals on January 17 to demand what they called a fair share of hydrocarbon revenues.
The blockade, which has resulted in more than $9.8 billion in lost revenue, according to National Petroleum Company (NOC), has exacerbated electricity and fuel shortages in the country.
Dressed in his military uniform, Haftar said the command of his forces had “put aside all military and political considerations” to respond to the “deterioration of living conditions” in Libya, which has Africa’s largest oil reserves.
The announcement comes after hundreds of Libyans protested last week in the eastern city of Benghazi, one of Haftar’s strongholds, and other cities over corruption, power cuts and shortages in petrol and cash.
Protesting peacefully at first, protesters on Sunday set fire to the headquarters of the parallel eastern government in Benghazi and attacked the police station in Al-Marj.
Police officers fired live ammunition to disperse them in Al-Marj, leaving at least one dead and several wounded, according to witnesses and the UN mission in Libya.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
The country’s oil revenues are managed by the NOC and the central bank, both based in Tripoli, which is also the seat of Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Haftar runs a rival administration based in the country’s east.
Haftar— who has the backing of Egypt, the UAE and Russia — launched an offensive against Tripoli in April last year.
After 14 months of fierce fighting, pro-GNA forces backed by Turkey expelled his troops from much of western Libya and pushed them to Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s rich oil fields and export terminals.