Iran fuels humanitarian crisis in Yemen, says foreign minister

Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami. (AFP)
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Updated 10 September 2020

Iran fuels humanitarian crisis in Yemen, says foreign minister

AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen has once again accused Iran of undermining security in Yemen and other countries by supplying arms and funds to its allied militias.  

Speaking at a virtual Arab League session on Wednesday, Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami said the Iranian regime poses a grave threat to stability and security in the Arab world and that the Iran-backed Houthi militia fuels his country’s worsening humanitarian crisis.

“Iran has caused great harm to Yemen and the region, as it uses the wealth of its people to arm and finance a militia outside its territory to blatantly interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries,” the Yemeni minister said, adding that his government has sought a peaceful solution to end the Houthi coup against the internationally recognized government and the Houthis’ military expansion in Yemen.

Yemeni governments have long accused Iran of arming and financing the Houthi rebellion in Yemen that has claimed thousands of lives.

Following the interception of arms shipments to the Houthis, the Yemeni government have asked the international community to impose harsher sanctions on the Iranian regime in order to curb its military support to militias in the region, including the Houthis.

In regard to the Stockholm Agreement, Al-Hadrami stressed that his government would not allow the Houthis to take advantage of a truce in the western city of Hodeidah under the agreement to escalate military operations in other parts of the country, including Marib and Jouf.

“Due to the continuing intransigence of the Houthis, we realized today that the agreement is useless and did not lead to anything. Rather, it turned into a new phase of escalation, exacerbation of the conflict, and increased the suffering of Yemenis,” the minister said.

He highlighted threats including the rusting oil tanker in the Red Sea and Houthi looting of humanitarian supplies.

Meanwhile, more than 25 Houthis have been killed and more than 30 others captured since Wednesday morning in the northern province of Jouf, Rabia Al-Qurashi, the Yemeni army spokesman in the province, told Arab News on Thursday.  

Backed by hundreds of tribesmen and under air cover from Arab coalition planes, the Yemeni army launched an offensive on Houthi-controlled areas east of Hazem, the capital of Jouf province. The army pushed 15 kilometers into a large desert area in the province after killing and capturing dozens of Houthis.

“By taking complete control of Al-Nodhoub and liberating neighboring areas, we secured the northern side of the city of Marib from Houthi incursions,” Al-Qurashi said by telephone. A large number of tribesmen from Dahem and Abeda tribes took part in the fighting along with army troops, Al-Qurashi said, adding that the army seized five armed vehicles and coalition aircraft destroyed several others.

In addition to expelling the Houthis from Jouf, military operations in the province are also intended to ease Houthi military pressure on government forces in the neighboring Marib province, Yemeni military commanders say.

Al-Qurashi said that government troops achieved that objective on Thursday by cutting off Houthi supply lines from parts of Jouf.

In the central province of Marib, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said fierce fighting erupted over recent days as the Houthis tried to take control of various areas.

On Wednesday, Yemeni media said that Brig. Gen. Rashad Mohammed Al-Hakimi, commander of 3rd Border Guard Brigade operations, was killed in action against the Houthis in an undisclosed location.

‘Worst debate ever’ — US expats lament lack of substance in Trump-Biden bust-up

Updated 26 min 42 sec ago

‘Worst debate ever’ — US expats lament lack of substance in Trump-Biden bust-up

  • Americans in the Gulf shocked by crosstalk, insults, mockery and lack of focus on policies during candidates’ first televised showdown
  • Any attempt at substantive exchanges on the main issues — the Supreme Court, COVID-19, race and violence, the economy, and the integrity of the election — were drowned out by acrimony

DUBAI: Americans living in the Gulf looked on, aghast, as personal insults flew back and forth between the two men who aspire to lead the US.

A chaotic 90 minutes of insults, temper tantrums, endless interruptions and attacks on an opponent’s family turned the first televised debate between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden into the most acrimonious televised presidential head-to-head in US history.

Expatriates in the Middle East set their alarms for the early hours to watch what turned out to be a “dumpster fire” of a debate, as some commentators described it, unfold in Cleveland, Ohio.

“This debate completely lacked in substance, so how could an expat understand anything about Biden (or Trump’s) positions,” said Liberty Jones, who is from Washington D.C. and has lived in Dubai for eight years. “Aside from a quick discussion on how Trump is handling COVID, it was devoid of any depth on their approaches.”


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The debate was the first of three between the two candidates in the run up to election day on Nov. 3. Any attempt at substantive exchanges about the six main issues — the Supreme Court, COVID-19, race and violence in US cities, the economy, and the integrity of the election — were drowned out by acrimony.

“You’re the worst president that America ever had,” Biden told Trump. “In 47 months I’ve done more than you have done in 47 years,” Trump responded.

The moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, had to raise his voice on several occasions to demand that Trump respect the two-minute time allocated for uninterrupted answers to questions and let Biden speak. Biden also provided fuel for the fire with a series of personal attacks, calling Trump a liar and a racist.

Then there was Biden’s “inshallah” moment, which lit up Twitter across the Arab world. It came after Trump promised to release his still-hidden tax returns, some details of which were published by the New York Times last week. Biden sarcastically asked, “When?” followed by a word that many viewers thought sounded like “Inshallah,” meaning “God willing.”

Whether or not he actually uttered the familiar Arabic expression remains a mystery but it certainly caught the attention of American expats in the Gulf, some of whom feel distanced from the core issues of the election.

“As expats, we are naturally not as close to the candidates and their platforms,” said Jones, who is a public relations director for luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. “While we can consume news, we don’t have the benefit of our community and families sharing their perspectives on the candidates. This places greater weight on the debates to help expats understand the platforms and policies of the respective candidates.”

James Erazo Ruiz, a healthcare company director who lives in Abu Dhabi and describes himself as a Republican, said: “The American people are the losers of this debate.

“History tells us that presidential debates are not decision-making events. I hoped this one would be different but all we saw was name-calling and an insulting debacle that served no purpose.

“The debate was light on policy, issues and solutions. Quite frankly, it was the worse debate I have ever seen. It was a joke.”

Brian Raggott, who has worked in Dubai for nine years for an American IT company, said the debate reinforced the negative image of America outside of the US.

“America needs someone who can bring the country back together again and last night we didn’t see it,” he said. “As an American outside of the US, you want to bring American ideals wherever you go — and right now it’s a tough time.”

Ali Khalaf, who has lived in Dubai since 2007, sounded a slightly more optimistic note for the future of American politics. He said that he hopes the “disturbing” nature of the debate will shock more people into greater engagement with the political process.

“The hope that can be drawn from these debates is that we emerge from these elections with the desire to invest more in our nation’s choices,” he added.

The last topic of the debate, the integrity of the election, in particular struck a chord with Americans in the Gulf, many of whom said that despite submitting a request weeks ago they are still waiting to receive their absentee ballots.

Approximately 9 million Americans live overseas, according to 2016 figures from the US State Department. If they were considered to be a US state, it would rank as the 12th largest in population size, so they represent a powerful block of votes.

An anonymous US citizen living in Dubai, who declined to be named, said: “Americans abroad deserve to feel confident that our votes are accurately counted and protected from fraud. It’s strange to wait this long for a ballot — and then when it comes and we mail it in, can we trust that it will be counted appropriately?”

“Our votes absolutely count,” said Jean Candiotte, a creative director, writer and producer who has lived in Dubai for almost seven years. “This has the potential to be a close election, which means that every single vote is important.

“As Americans, we get to take our home country with us when we live overseas; we file and pay our home country’s taxes and we maintain the right to vote, and it’s important to exercise that right — it’s who we are as a nation.”