Yemen’s FM blames Houthis for looming Safer oil tanker disaster

The tanker has been moored near Ras Issa oil terminal for more than five years. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 September 2020

Yemen’s FM blames Houthis for looming Safer oil tanker disaster

  • The foreign minister stressed the importance of pressuring the Houthis to allow technicians from the UN to access the tanker
  • Meanwhile, the Yemeni president urged Houthis to stop impeding the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid

DUBAI: Yemen’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadhrami blamed the Houthi militia for the Safer oil tanker’s looming disaster as the militia continued to block the United Nation’s help to access the damage. 
Al-Hadhrami stressed the importance of pressuring the Houthis to allow technicians from the international organization to access the tanker during a meeting with senior British diplomats on Thursday, state news agency Saba New reported.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council that an “oil spot” has been sighted in a shipping lane 50 km west of abandoned and decaying Safer oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. Experts fear it could spill 1.1 million barrels of crude into the Red Sea.
The tanker has been moored near Ras Issa oil terminal for more than five years. The UN previously warned that it could leak four times as much oil as was spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have repeatedly called on Houthi insurgents in Yemen to grant access the tanker for a technical assessment and emergency repairs.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said last week that a new UN proposal to assess and carry out initial repairs on the Safer oil tanker was being discussed with the Houthis. “We hope the new proposal will be quickly approved so the work can start,” he said.

Meanwhile President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Thursday urged Houthis to stop impeding the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid following a warning from the UN humanitarian chief last week that “the specter of famine” has returned to the conflict-torn country.

His plea came in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are trying to save our country and establish a just and lasting peace,” Hadi said, blaming Iran for meddling in his nation.

“The objective is to stop the bloodletting in Yemen,” he said.

Lowcock told the UN Security Council last week that famine in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, was averted two years ago because donors swiftly met 90 percent of the UN’s funding requirements. But the UN’s latest figures show that the current $3.4 billion appeal is less than 38 percent funded.


Deal on horizon after Lebanon maritime border talks

Updated 28 min 53 sec ago

Deal on horizon after Lebanon maritime border talks

  • Hariri condemns ‘heinous criminal attack’ on French worshippers 

BEIRU: Talks between Israel and Lebanon over disputed maritime borders are expected to resume next month following two days of productive negotiations, the US and UN said.

US-mediated talks held at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) headquarters in Naqoura ended on Thursday with plans for another round of negotiations to begin on Nov. 11.

Lebanon presented documents and maps claiming its right to 2,270 sq. km of the marine area, a position at odds with Israel.

Following the talks, the US and the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon released a statement saying: “Building on progress from their Oct. 14 meeting, on Oct. 28 and 29 representatives from the governments of Israel and Lebanon held productive talks mediated by the US and hosted by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL).

“The US and UNSCOL remain hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a long-awaited resolution. The parties committed to continue negotiations next month.”

Meanwhile, a terrorist attack that left three people dead in a church in the southern French city of Nice has drawn widespread condemnation in Lebanon.

Prime minister-designate Saad Hariri condemned what he described as a “heinous criminal attack.”

After meeting with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority, he said: “The incidents in France are regrettable, but we condemn in return the words and cartoons mocking the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). But what happened today in Nice is a very regrettable murder because it makes it seem like all Muslims have the same mentality, and this is entirely false.

“Thoughts, speech or revenge should not be based on this logic. This discourse is wrong. Just as well, such cartoons should not be published, and we condemn them. But the important thing is to realize that Islam is fine.”