Saudi Arabia to organize virtual donors conference for Yemen in partnership with UN

KSRelief donations are distributed to Yemeni children. (KSRelief)
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Updated 31 May 2020

Saudi Arabia to organize virtual donors conference for Yemen in partnership with UN

  • The Kingdom called on donor countries to support efforts to make the conference a success
  • The UN on Thursday announced the conference in partnership with Riyadh, saying the aim is to raise some $2.4 billion

RIYADH: Experts have highlighted the pivotal role the 2020 Donors Conference for Yemen could play in saving the country and extricating it from its present state of division and dilapidated infrastructure.
The event, to be held virtually on June 2 under the directives of King Salman, is an extension of Saudi Arabia’s global humanitarian and development contribution. The Kingdom is urging other donor countries to participate. The UN said that the aim is to raise some $2.4 billion to pay for the world’s biggest aid operation.
“The conference will coordinate humanitarian efforts among all donors and related parties, and ensure that the Yemeni civilians who are in need will get access to aid,” said Dr. Basil Abdullah Bawazir, a legal expert on constitutional law and international relations.
He described Yemen’s humanitarian situation as “one of the gravest in modern history,” saying that around 80 percent of Yemenis have been negatively affected by the Houthi conflict and do not have direct access to food, clean water, shelter and health care services.
“The humanitarian conditions in Yemen have exasperated because (of) the uncertain political conditions,” he said. “While all parties in the country claim they want peace, we, as Yemenis, only see that the chances of peace are more remote than ever because the parties want to make the maximum gains from the raging war. We pin big hopes on the donors conference and hope the parties involved will ensure that all the needy in Yemen get access to aid.”
Bawazir believes that the conference’s outcome should be translated on the ground in the form of enhanced aid to the needy and impoverished civilians in Yemen, while also including Yemenis living in difficult conditions in other countries.
As the country suffers from the COVID-19 outbreak and does not have a robust health care system, Yemenis need all forms of support now more than ever, he said.
He called on the donors to discuss the political situation and conditions in Yemen to reach an effective resolution and reach the roots of the political problem.
“The biggest support this conference can give to Yemen is to stop the war and hold a ceasefire,” he added.
Dr. Aref Abuhatem, an information counselor at the Yemeni Embassy in Saudi Arabia, described the current situation in Yemen as “completely complicated and cruel.”
He said that the Houthi militias are more dangerous than the COVID-19 pandemic, and threaten country’s future and security, as well as that of the Gulf.
The Yemeni people want to know the mechanism used in distributing aid, especially given that around $23 billion was misappropriated by corrupt individuals from local and international UN organizations, he said.

FASTFACTS

• The 2020 Donors Conference for Yemen, to be held virtually on June 2 under the directives of King Salman, is as an extension of Saudi Arabia’s global humanitarian and development contribution.

• The Kingdom is urging other donor countries to participate. The UN said that the aim is to raise some $2.4 billion to pay for the world’s biggest aid operation. 

“Yemen’s situation is catastrophic. There is no healt care, no education, no electricity, no security and no water,” said Abuhatem.
He added that lessons should be learned from Iraq, which is controlled now by Iran. Yemen should be saved from Iran so that it does not suffer the same fate.
He said that the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths interfered in the political decisions when he should not have done. “This happened because the political decision-making process in Yemen lost direction and Griffiths took advantage of the situation.”
Abdulrahman Al-Kaff, an energy expert, said the power infrastructure is in bad shape and cannot meet the public’s increasing demand, with only 40 percent of Yemeni people having access to power.
“Power outages are frequent because of attacks targeting the infrastructure. The conflict has led to the complete destruction of the infrastructure all over the country,” he said.
Al-Kaff hopes the conference will recommend the use of crude oil or gas for power production, and set conditions for financing solar power projects.
Speaking about the country’s turbulent north-south divide, Salah Salim bin Hamel, a member of a local council and a rights activist, said that the decision-makers in Yemen’s north believe that the president should be from the Zaydi minority.
“The people in the south believe that most legislative, executive and judiciary bodies are run by people from the north, which is not fair,” he said.
The people in the northern side of the country want one united Yemen, while people in the south want separation and two independent states.
“Yemen needs a magical solution to get out of this crisis because the current political, social and religious conditions are complex. There is so much division,” said Hamel.
One of the main challenges that might obstruct aid from reaching the needy people in Yemen is the absence of a database of the impoverished and the needy, said Hamel. Other reasons include tribalism, armed conflicts and displacement.


US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 6 min 47 sec ago

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 


The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.


The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 

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READ MORE: 45 Moments that changed the Middle East - The bombing of Khobar Towers

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The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.


“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.