Yemen PM slams Houthis for preventing UN assessment of decaying oil tanker in Red Sea 

Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed arrives in Aden on November 18, 2019. (File.AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Yemen PM slams Houthis for preventing UN assessment of decaying oil tanker in Red Sea 

  • Yemen’s government says the Safer is in a “bad and deteriorating” condition
  • The Safer fell under the control of Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthis in 2015

DUBAI: Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed slammed the Houthis on Monday for preventing UN experts from accessing a decaying Yemeni oil tanker that could explode in the Red Sea. 
The FSO Safer, a 45-year-old supertanker loaded with more than one million barrels of crude oil has been caught between the warring sides since the start of the conflict and left to decay.
Officials warn that the Safer could hemorrhage its cargo into the sea at any time, with devastating consequences for nature and the people of Yemen.
Yemen’s government says the Safer is in a “bad and deteriorating” condition.
Saeed warned of the potentially catastrophic risks caused by the Houthis actions that could lead to a major oil spill. 




This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies taken June 17, 2020, shows the FSO Safer tanker moored off Ras Issa port, in Yemen. (Maxar Technologies/AP)


The Safer fell under the control of Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthis in 2015. Since then the majority of the crew of the state-owned tanker had left and access has been barred by the Houthis.
Without routine maintenance to prevent corrosion over the last five years, the supertanker is starting to fall apart.
The Yemeni prime minister also claimed that the Houthis plundered the revenues of the central bank in Hodeidah. This came during a meeting with the UK Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron, where the discussion included the ongoing efforts to implement the Riyadh Agreement signed in November last year between the Southern Transitional Council and the Yemeni government.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Muammar Al-Iryani warned of the repercussions of the Houthis false creation of an oil derivatives crisis in areas under their control.
The Minister of Information said in a press statement: ”A number of recently circulated video clips documented hundreds of oil derivatives held in one of the security points of the Houthi militia, while millions of citizens in the capital Sana'a and militia-controlled areas suffer from the lack of oil derivatives.
Iryani claimed that this has caused for 20 liters of petroleum to be sold for 25,000 Yemeni riyals (almost $100) in the black market. 
“The fabrication of the oil derivatives crisis by Iran's mercenaries (the Houthis) aims to blackmail the international community for political gains, plundering the savings of citizens in their areas of control, and reviving the black market,” he added. 
Al-Iryani called on the international community and the United Nations to stop these Houthi practices that create impoverishment and starvation of civilians in Sanaa and areas under their control, and to pressure the militia to allow the flow of food supplies and oil derivatives.


Iraqi expert on armed groups shot dead in Baghdad

Updated 17 min 26 sec ago

Iraqi expert on armed groups shot dead in Baghdad

  • Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham Al-Hashimi outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad
  • Al-Hashimi was a well-connected security analyst

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi analyst who was a leading expert on the Islamic State and other armed groups was shot dead in Baghdad on Monday after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias.
Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham Al-Hashimi, 47, outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad, a family member said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons. The family member heard five shots fired.
Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Al-Hashimi was a well-connected security analyst who appeared regularly on Iraqi television and whose expertise was sought out by government officials, journalists and researchers.
Weeks before his death, Al-Hashimi had told confidantes he feared Iran-backed militias were out to get him. Friends had advised him to flee to the northern city of Irbil, in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
He rose to prominence as an expert on the inner workings of IS and even advised the US-led coalition during its yearslong battle with the extremists.
After Iraq declared victory over IS in December 2017, he increasingly turned his attention to the Iran-backed militias that helped to defeat IS and now wield considerable power in the country. He was an outspoken critics of some of these groups, which have thousands of heavily armed fighters.
News of his killing spread quickly, with fellow researchers, journalists and others taking to social media to express their condolences.
The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, expressed shocked at the assassination and said the UN strongly denounces the “cowardly act.” In a tweet, she called on the Iraqi government to quickly find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
British Ambassador to Iraq, Stephen Hickey, said he was “devastated and deeply saddened” by the news of Al-Hashimi’s death. “Iraq has lost one of its very best — a thoughtful and brave man,” he tweeted.
Iraqi researcher Fanar Haddad said Al-Hashimi was a “strikingly bright mind and a true gentleman,” calling his death a “major loss and an unforgivable crime.”
Asked what Al-Hashimi’s death might signify to critical analysts, he said, “Critical voices are liable to be silenced if and when deemed necessary.”
Political analyst Ihsan Al-Shammari, a colleague of Al-Hashimi, said those who killed him wanted to “silence the voices that disagree with their opinion” and blamed the shooting on the proliferation of armed groups in the country.
Many saw his death as a worrying sign as the government struggles to rein in the militias.
The Iran-backed groups have been blamed for a spate of recent rocket attacks targeting US interests. Authorities launched a raid last week in which they detained 14 members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah group in Baghdad, but all but one were released just days later, in what was widely seen as a capitulation by the government.
In a statement, Al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces would “spare no effort” in pursuing his killers.
“We will work with all our efforts to confine arms to the state, so that no force will rise above the rule of law,” the statement said.
In some of his final tweets before he was killed, Al-Hashimi lamented the country’s bitter divisions and the corruption plaguing its political system.
“The rights, blood and dignity of Iraqis have been lost, and their money gone into the pockets of corrupt politicians,” he tweeted Sunday.