Bahrain crown prince volunteers in Covid-19 vaccine trial

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad joined volunteers for the coronavirus vaccine trials. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 September 2020

Bahrain crown prince volunteers in Covid-19 vaccine trial

  • Trials are being conducted in collaboration with UAE’s G42 Healthcare and Sinopharm

MANAMA: Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad on Wednesday took part in the third phase of COVID-19 vaccine trials underway in the kingdom.
The clinical trials are being conducted in collaboration with Abu-Dhabi based G42 Healthcare using a vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm CNBG, the sixth-largest producer of vaccines in the world. 
Up to 6,000 volunteers will participate in the Bahrain trials, selected from those who meet the required medical criteria. 
The trial involves administering a vaccine to the selected volunteers, in order to study the effectiveness of antibody production and its protection against the virus.
“Today I was privileged to stand together with our vaccine volunteers, each one of them determined to play their part in working to protect others, not just at home in our kingdom, but right across the globe” and “this global crisis requires a global response,” the crown prince, said.
He added: “In Bahrain we are proud to say we have stepped forward and shouldered responsibility, first in sharing in treatment and testing best practice, and now in support of safe vaccine testing and development.”    

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

Updated 9 min 4 sec ago

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

  • Captured gang tells of route to Yemen through base in Somalia

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A captured gang of arms smugglers has revealed how Iran supplies weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen through a base in Somalia.

The Houthis exploit poverty in Yemen to recruit fishermen as weapons smugglers, and send fighters to Iran for military training under cover of “humanitarian” flights from Yemen to Oman, the gang said.

The four smugglers have been interrogated since May, when they were arrested with a cache of weapons in Bab Al-Mandab, the strategic strait joining the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

In video footage broadcast on Yemeni TV, gang leader Alwan Fotaini, a fisherman from Hodeidah, admits he was recruited by the Houthis in 2015. His recruiter, a smuggler called Ahmed Halas, told him he and other fishermen would be based in the Somali coastal city of Berbera, from where they would transport weapons and fuel to the Houthis. 

In late 2015, Fotaini traveled to Sanaa and met a Houthi smuggler called Ibrahim Hassam Halwan, known as Abu Khalel, who would be his contact in Iran. 

This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security.

Dr. Theodore Karasik, Security analyst

Pretending to be relatives of wounded fighters, Fotaini, Abu Khalel, and another smuggler called Najeeb Suleiman boarded a humanitarian flight to Oman, and then flew to Iran. They were taken to the port city of Bandar Abbas, where they received training on using GPS, camouflage, steering vessels and maintaining engines.

“We stayed in Bandar Abbas for a month as they were preparing an arms shipment that we would be transporting to Yemen,” Fotaini said.

On Fotaini’s first smuggling mission, his job was to act as a decoy for another boat carrying Iranian weapons to the Houthis. “The plan was for us to call the other boat to change course if anyone intercepted our boat,” he said.

He was then sent to Mahra in Yemen to await new arms shipments. The Houthis sent him data for a location at sea, where he and other smugglers met Abu Khalel with a boat laden with weapons from Iran, which were delivered to the Houthis.

Security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik said long-standing trade ties between Yemen and Somalia made arms smuggling difficult to stop. “This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security,” Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, told Arab News.

“The smuggling routes are along traditional lines of communication that intermix with other maritime commerce. The temptation to look the other way is sometimes strong, so sharp attention is required to break these chains.”