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.


France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

Updated 28 min 53 sec ago

France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

  • Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars
  • Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will host US President Donald Trump and other political leaders on Sunday for a UN-endorsed donors’ conference by video to raise emergency relief for Lebanon following this week’s massive explosion in Beirut.
Lebanon was already mired in deep political and economic crisis when the blast ripped through its main port on Tuesday, killing 158 people, injuring more than 6,000 and destroying a swathe of the city.
Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars. Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP.
Many Lebanese are angry at the government’s response and say the disaster highlighted the negligence of a corrupt political elite. Protesters stormed government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday.
Macron visited Beirut on Thursday, the first world leader to do so after the explosion, and promised the Lebanese people humanitarian aid would come but that profound political reform was needed to resolve the country’s problems and secure longer term support.
“I guarantee you, this (reconstruction) aid will not go to corrupt hands,” Macron told the throngs who greeted him.
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Lebanon from around the world this week and many countries have sent immediate humanitarian support such as a medical supplies, but there has been an absence of aid commitments so far.
Trump will participate in the video-link conference.
“Everyone wants to help!” he tweeted.
Germany will commit an additional 10 million euros ($11.79 million) in emergency aid on top of the rescue contributions already underway, its foreign minister said.
A Macron aide declined on Saturday to set a target for the conference. Emergency aid was needed for reconstruction, food aid, medical equipment and schools and hospitals, the official said.
Representatives of Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, Egypt and Jordan are expected to join the conference, hosted by Macron from his summer retreat on the French Riviera. Israel and Iran will not take part, the Elysee Palace official said. ($1 = 0.8485 euros)