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.


Israeli warplanes seen flying at ‘low altitudes’ over south Lebanon amid Iran tensions

Updated 30 November 2020

Israeli warplanes seen flying at ‘low altitudes’ over south Lebanon amid Iran tensions

  • Planes flew over regions like Metn, Jbeil, Keserwan, Hasbaya and Beirut
  • Debate raged in Iran over how and when to respond to a top nuclear scientist’s assassination, blamed on Israel

DUBAI: Lebanon reported various Israeli airplanes flying at low altitudes in the country’s south on Monday, state news agency NNA reported, as Tehran mulls action over top nuclear scientist’s assassination.
The reported regions are Metn, Jbeil, Keserwan, Hasbaya and Beirut, NNA added.
Meanwhile, debate raged in Iran over how and when to respond to a top nuclear scientist’s assassination, blamed on arch-foe Israel, as his body was honored at Shiite shrines to prepare it for burial.
Two days after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran, parliament demanded a halt to international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites while a top official hinted Iran should leave the global non-proliferation treaty.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council usually handles decisions related to the country’s nuclear program, and parliamentary bills must be approved by the powerful Guardians Council.
President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap.”
Israel says Fakhrizadeh was the head of an Iranian military nuclear program, the existence of which the Islamic republic has consistently denied, and Washington had sanctioned him in 2008 for activities linked to Iran’s atomic activities.