Yemeni officials repeat warnings over Safer oil tanker

Yemeni officials repeat warnings over Safer oil tanker
FSO Safer, the tanker holding 1.1 million barrels of crude oil in the Red Sea off Yemen. (File/AP)
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Updated 18 November 2020

Yemeni officials repeat warnings over Safer oil tanker

Yemeni officials repeat warnings over Safer oil tanker
  • The officials repeated concerns about the collapse of the tanker

AL-MUKALLA: Iran-backed Houthi’s use of naval mines and bomb boats, and the group’s resistance to maintaining the Safer tanker are serious threatens to international maritime traffic and ecological life in the Red Sea, senior Yemeni officials warned on Monday.

The officials repeated concerns about the collapse of the tanker, urging the international community to act now to avert a major disaster in the Red Sea.

Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer said that the Yemeni government is still open to all peace initiatives, but the Houthi’s continuing use of land mines and their refusal to allow UN experts to visit the decaying tanker show that they are not serious about peace, state news agency SABA reported.

During a meeting with Gov. of Hodeidah Al-Hassan Ali Taher, Al- Ahmer said that the Houthis pose an “increasing” threat to maritime navigation in the Red Sea through their mines and explosive-laden boats that target commercial ships.

For months, Yemeni government officials and Western diplomats have pressured the Houthis to allow a team of UN experts access to the tanker to conduct vital maintenance, warning the rebels that they would be held responsible if the tanker crumbled and caused a predicted environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

Loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil, the stranded ship off the western city of Hodeidah has decayed over the last five years due to lack of maintenance.

Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Dr. Najeeb Al-Ouj on Monday echoed the same concerns about the crumbling of the tanker and potential environmental disaster. 

FASTFACT

For months, Yemeni government officials and western diplomats have pressured Houthis to allow a team of UN experts access to the tanker to conduct vital maintenance, warning the rebels that they would be held responsible if the tanker crumbled and caused a predicted environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

SABA quoted the minister as saying that the international community has an “ethical and moral” responsibility to keep pressure on the Houthis until they allow UN experts to board the tanker and assess the damage.

Al-Ouj repeated local and international experts in saying that an oil spill from the ship would jeopardize ecological life and prevent Yemeni fishermen from working.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami also told New Zealand’s nonresident Ambassador to Yemen James Monroe on Monday that the international community should urgently address the tanker issue by pressuring the Houthis.

Commanders killed

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi mourned the death of a field commander who was killed in fighting with Houthis in the northern province of Jouf.

The official news agency reported that Hadi sent a letter to the family of Brig. Yahiya Al-Bakri, chief of staff of the 1st Mountain Infantry Brigade, who was killed while “resisting the Iran-backed Houthi scheme” in Yemen.

The vice president also mourned the same commander, describing him as a “hero” who led military operations against the Houthis in Marib, Jouf and Sanaa.

Local media reports and government-allied accounts on social media announced the death of Ahmed Hamed Al-Tharhani, chief of 141 Brigade operations, on Monday night following fatal injuries suffered during fighting with Houthis in Jouf.

Dozens of Houthi fighters, including field commanders, were also killed in Jouf during the last couple of days.

Rabia Al-Qurashi, the Yemeni army spokesman in the province, told Arab News on Tuesday that warplanes from the Arab coalition on Monday targeted a gathering of Houthi fighters in an area east of Hazem, Jouf’s capital, killing Zayed Ali Al-Marani, the chief of Houthi Preventive Security and a brother of the rebel-allied governor of Jouf.

Fighting has raged in Jouf over the last couple of months as Yemeni government forces and the Houthis push to make territorial gains in the strategic province.


Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar

A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 27 min 2 sec ago

Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar

A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri says baseless claims go against tenets of Islam because ‘saving lives is an act of worship’

LONDON: A leading Muslim scholar in Canada has warned people not to be taken in by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine.

Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri said that such views, which are being spread by some on social media in an attempt to discourage people from being vaccinated, go against the tenets of Islam.

“Saving lives is an act of worship,” he said during an interview with Sky News. “At the start of the pandemic, Muslims around the world were among those in the forefront. They put their maximum efforts into saving lives, providing people with food and every kind of necessary support. In the same way, they should come forward now.”

READ MORE: Serious questions over coronavirus origin fuel conspiracy theories

Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

Al-Qadri, who is originally from Pakistan, sought to reassure his followers and encourage them not to believe false claims about the vaccines.

“Some people are saying that there is alcohol in it, or pork or other things forbidden (in Islam),” he said. “Some say these vaccines may affect certain parts of the brain. What can I say? These are totally baseless claims.

“This is a matter of medicinal development, of life, and it is just the same as when we take paracetamol, antibiotics or aspirins despite their side effects.

“Believing in the medical process is one of the basic teachings of Islam. Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is focused on reason, intelligence, scientific research and intellectual development.”