Yemen’s rebels threaten to hit UAE targets after KSA

A security officer walks past the Abha airport in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group on June 13. (Reuters)
Updated 19 September 2019

Yemen’s rebels threaten to hit UAE targets after KSA

  • Dozens of targets in UAE can be hit anytime, Houthi rebels claim
  • A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since March 2015

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Yemen’s Houthi rebels are threatening to attack the United Arab Emirates, days after they claimed attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Yahia Sarie, a spokesman for the Houthi forces, told a press conference Wednesday that they have “dozens of targets” in the UAE that “could be targeted at any time.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have fought a yearslong war in Yemen that’s killed tens of thousands of people.
He also alleged that they used “other drones to disrupt the enemy so the main drones can reach the target” during Saturday’s attacks.
The pre-dawn strikes hit a Saudi oil field and the world’s largest crude oil processing plant, disrupting the kingdom’s oil production.
The Saudi military has shown journalists what they describe as an Iranian cruise missile and drones used in an attack this weekend that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.
Saudi officials showed journalists the material at a news conference Wednesday in Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital.
They said the cruise missile, which had what appeared to be a jet engine attached to it, was a land-attack cruise missile that failed to explode.
On Saturday, an attack struck the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, as well as an oil field. Though Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed the assault, the US alleges Iran was behind it.
Tehran has denied being involved and warned the US it would retaliate “immediately” if targeted over it.
A Saudi military spokesman says an attack on its oil industry came “from the north.”
Col. Turki Al-Maliki did not elaborate, but to the north across the Arabian Gulf is Iraq and Iran.
He spoke at a news conference Wednesday in Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital.
Al-Maliki said the attack was “unquestionable sponsored by Iran.”
On Saturday, an attack struck the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, as well as an oil field. Though Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed the assault, the US alleges Iran was behind it.
Tehran has denied being involved and warned the US it would retaliate “immediately” if targeted over it.
The International Energy Agency says oil markets remain well supplied and that it’s not yet considered releasing emergency stocks of crude to offset the drop in output caused by the weekend attacks on Saudi oil installations.
The Paris-based agency, which advises governments and can release oil stocks in times of crisis, said Wednesday its member states hold about 1.55 billion barrels of emergency reserves. That amounts to 15 days of world oil demand, “more than enough to offset any significant disruption in supplies for an extended period of time.”
The IEA has only released emergency stocks three times: in 1991 ahead of the Gulf War, in 2005 due to hurricanes in the US and in 2011 over the Libyan war.
IEA head Fatih Birol said: “At this point, we do not see the need to take such action.”
A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since March 2015.
France is sending experts to help investigate drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office announced the move in a statement Wednesday after the French leader spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The statement says the French experts are going at Saudi request to help “shed all light on the origin and methods” of the attacks.
Macron denounced the attacks and stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia’s security.
Macron’s office said Tuesday that France is continuing diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions around the Arabian Gulf.
Saturday’s attack targeted the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oil field in Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed the attack, though the US and Saudi Arabia suspect Iran was behind the assault. Iran denies being involved.
Saudi Arabia says it is joining a US-led coalition to secure the Mideast’s waterways after an attack targeting its crucial oil industry.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency carried a statement Wednesday morning quoting an unnamed official saying the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct.
That’s a mission already joined by Australia, Bahrain, and the United Kingdom.
The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran’s seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.
The US military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Saturday, an attack struck the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia. 


India says ready to sign Kartarpur agreement with Pakistan on Wednesday

Updated 21 October 2019

India says ready to sign Kartarpur agreement with Pakistan on Wednesday

  • The project is a rare recent example of diplomatic cooperation between the two South Asian rivals
  • New Delhi says “disappointed” by Pakistan’s decision of “levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit”

LAHORE: India has decided to sign the Kartarpur Corridor agreement on October 23, said an official statement issued by New Delhi’s External Affairs Ministry on Monday, even though it expressed its disappointment over Pakistan’s decision to levy $20 service fee per pilgrims and asked Islamabad to reconsider it.

“In view of the long pending demand of the pilgrims to have visa-free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib and in the interest of operationalization of the corridor in time before the Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary on November 12, the government on Monday conveyed [to Pakistan] that India would be ready to sign the agreement on the corridor on Wednesday,” the statement said.

Pakistan is all set to open the world’s largest Sikh temple to pilgrims and the public on Nov. 9, as construction work on the Kartarpur corridor enters its final stages, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on his official Facebook page on Sunday.

The visa-free border crossing from India to Kartarpur in Pakistan will be inaugurated just ahead of one of Sikhism’s most sacred festivals, and the 550th birthday of the religion’s founder, Guru Nanak on Nov. 12.

“Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe, as the construction work on the Kartarpur project enters final stages and will be open to the public on 9th November 2019,” the Prime Minister said on Facebook.

He added: “World’s largest Gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world.”

However, India’s official statement on Monday said it was “a matter of disappointment” that Pakistan continued “to insist on levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit.”

The Kartarpur project is a rare recent example of diplomacy between the two South Asian rivals, who came to the brink of war in February this year. In August, relations were further inflamed when India flooded its portion of the disputed Kashmir valley with troops, imposed a communications lockdown and revoked the special legal status of the territory.

Since then, diplomatic relations between the two countries have been virtually non-existent, with Pakistan recalling its envoy from India and banning bilateral trade.

But for the Sikh minority population in India’s northern state of Punjab and elsewhere, the diplomatic overture from Pakistan will come as a relief. The community has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur, a village just 4 km over the border in Pakistan, and which otherwise requires a lengthy visa and travel process.

Instead of visas, Sikh and other pilgrims will now be given special permits to access the shrine, with online registration from the Indian interior ministry live on Sunday.

Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has invited the leaders of all Indian political parties to join him to cross the border to the Gurdwara for the opening ceremony.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Indian side of the corridor but it is yet unclear whether he will cross into Pakistan following the event.

Indian pilgrims will pay Pakistan $20 to use the corridor, which includes roadways, a bridge over the Ravi River and an immigration office, with up to 5,000 Indians to be allowed access daily.