Houthis using decaying tanker as ‘bargaining chip:’ Yemen FM

Yemen’s foreign minister Mohammed Al-Hadrahmi said the Houthis have been using the decaying Safer tanker as leverage in the peace process, having realized the importance it holds. (Screen grab)
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Updated 16 July 2020

Houthis using decaying tanker as ‘bargaining chip:’ Yemen FM

  • The Houthis have refused for more than five years to allow international engineers to carry out maintenance on the vessel
  • Saudi Arabia said it was ready to take necessary steps – with the support of the United Nations Security Council – to deal with the Safer oil tanker crisis

DUBAI: The Houthis have been using the decaying Safer tanker as leverage in the peace process, having realized the importance it holds, Yemen’s foreign minister Mohammed Al-Hadrahmi said.

The Houthis have refused for more than five years to allow international engineers to carry out maintenance on the vessel which is moored off the coast of Yemen.

The Yemeni government has been asking the United Nations to intervene to prevent a major environmental disaster. 

Al-Hadhrami reiterated its call to the Security Council on Wednesday saying it should “send the Houthis a strong signal that this time they must comply,” as reported by state-owned Saba.

The statement comes as the minister explained how the militia had been using the tanker as a bargaining chip in the ongoing peace process “with a complete disregard for the potential drastic consequences of this unethical behavior.”

Experts said 138 million liters of crude oil could leak into the Red Sea from the rusty tanker, which will result in a number of environmental and economic damages not only on Yemen, but the whole region.

“We believe that the best course of action supports the latest stand-alone detailed proposal on Safer which we received from the UN Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Martin Griffiths, last month to which we agreed given that it would not be linked to any other issues or processes under discussion,” Al Hadhrami said.

The proposal outlined three steps to resolve the tanker issue – necessary repairs, basic maintenance to facilitate oil extraction and the eventual disposal of the tanker.

It also stated all potential revenue from the sale of extracted oil will be used to pay the salaries of civil servants in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia ready to take ‘necessary steps’

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said it was ready to take necessary steps – with the support of the United Nations Security Council – to deal with the Safer oil tanker crisis.

Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, Ambassador Abdullah Al-Muallami, told the council on Wednesday to “remain vigilant” and to be ready to announce “strong and decisive measures” to deal with the tanker and eliminate the threat it poses.

“We would like to draw the Council’s attention to the record of the Houthis non-compliance with United Nations resolutions,” Al-Muallami said during virtual meeting on the situation in Yemen.

Al-Muallami pointed out that the oil tanker posed grave risks that threaten to cause serious harm to the south of the Red Sea. It also threated regional security and international maritime navigation between Asia and Europe due to its location near Bab Al-Mandab, he added.


Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

Updated 12 August 2020

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

  • The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention

CAIRO: The fate of at least 35 Egyptian fishermen hangs in the balance after they were arrested by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Nov. 2 last year.  

The families of the fishermen have appealed to the Egyptian government to step up their efforts to secure their freedom as Cairo has been working on their release since November.

Little is known about the fate of the fishermen in Libya other than their location, after it was leaked to Egyptian authorities that they were held in the Turmina Prison, which is affiliated with the GNA.

The head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate in Kafr El-Sheikh, Ahmed Nassar, said they had not been able to communicate with the fishermen since last November and after their disappearance they came to learn that the GNA authorities had detained them.

The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention. Nassar said that the fishermen were not fishing in Libyan territory without a permit.

Nassar explained that the fishermen were working on Libyan boats. Alongside them were a number of colleagues working on boats that belong to the Al-Wefaq government. They were not approached by anyone unlike their detained colleagues who were arrested and sent to prison without being charged with any crime.

The Fishermen’s Syndicate chief said that people had called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the government, and the consular section had also been contacted about the matter.

Many of the detained fishermen come from Kafr El-Sheikh, while others come from Abu Qir in the governorate of Alexandria.

The fishermen had been supporting families of up to eight members.

Egyptian authorities say they are exerting great efforts to bring the fishermen back safely, while the fishermen’s families continue to demand safety and justice for the men.