Yemeni riyal in free fall again amid political deadlock

The riyal was 215 to the dollar when the Houthis placed the Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest in early 2019. (Shutterstock)
The riyal was 215 to the dollar when the Houthis placed the Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest in early 2019. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 May 2021

Yemeni riyal in free fall again amid political deadlock

The riyal was 215 to the dollar when the Houthis placed the Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest in early 2019. (Shutterstock)
  • Trades at 930 to dollar in government-controlled areas, plunging from 900 riyals 2 weeks ago
  • Experts link the current fall of the riyal to the outcome of UN-brokered peace efforts

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s riyal hit a new record low on the weekend amid deadlocked diplomatic efforts to end the war and rising tensions between the Yemeni government and southern separatists in Aden. 

The riyal traded at 930 to the dollar on Saturday in the government-controlled areas, plunging from 900 riyals a couple of weeks ago. 

The riyal was 215 to the dollar when the Houthis placed the Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest in early 2019, sparking the current conflict.

When the new unity government, formed under the Riyadh Agreement in December, returned to Aden as troops withdrew from Abyan, the Yemeni riyal surged to 720 against the US dollar, recovering almost 20 percent of its value. 

Experts link the current fall of the riyal to the outcome of UN-brokered peace efforts, renewed hostilities between the Yemeni government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), and the government’s failure to resume oil exports and collecting revenues from state bodies.

“The fall of the riyal is due to the economic and political instability in Yemen,” Mustafa Nasr, director of the Economic Media Center, told Arab News on Saturday. 

Politically, the UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths’ latest diplomatic shuttle between Riyadh and Muscat yielded no fruit as warring factions rejected his peace initiative, known as the Joint Declaration, that proposes putting into place a nationwide truce. 

The Houthis are still pressing ahead with their deadly offensive on the central city of Marib despite international condemnations and appeals. 

In Aden, the interim capital of Yemen, the internationally recognized government has not returned to the city for more than two months amid reports about renewed tension with the STC. 

The STC on Saturday appointed Gen. Shalal Ali-Shayae as the commander of counterterrorism forces in Aden, fueling tension with the government whose supporters accused the separatists of violating the Riyadh Agreement. 

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The STC on Saturday appointed Gen. Shalal Ali-Shayae as the commander of counterterrorism forces in Aden, fueling tension with the government whose supporters accused the separatists of violating the Riyadh Agreement.

Shayae, former security chief of Aden and a senior separatist figure, was appointed in December as a military attache at the Yemen Embassy in the UAE. 

“The implantation of the Riyadh Agreement (in December) sent positive signals about new economic policies and support to the economy,” Nasr said, adding that the Yemeni riyal plunged again after the government did not remain in Aden or apply reforms to boost revenues and exports. 

“Many negative things have happened recently. The crisis in Aden returned. The government neither improved revenues that generate hard currencies nor created a mechanism for covering exports of goods and fuel. To pay public servants, the government printed millions of riyals without coverage,” he said. 

During previous rounds of devaluation of the national currency, the Yemeni government replaced the central bank governors, shut down exchange firms to put an end to currency speculation, and provided local fuel and goods traders with the dollar. 

The government also floated the riyal to bridge the gap between the official rate and that of the black market and relocated the central bank office from Sanaa to Aden. 

The Yemeni government blamed the Houthis for banning the use of new banknotes printed by the Yemeni government in Aden and refusing to deposit revenues from Hodeidah seaports and tax into the central bank in Aden. 

Economists argue that the Yemeni riyal would keep falling against the dollar as long as the Yemeni government remains outside the country.

The depreciation of the riyal has led to an expected surge in the price of foods and fuel and sparked protests in several Yemeni cities. 

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Aden and Taiz to voice rage over the collapse of the Yemeni currency and the subsequent increase in the price of food and goods. 

“My salary has lost more than 20 percent of its value due to the devaluation of the riyal. My relatives in Saudi Arabia donate to me to keep me afloat since my salary can’t cover my expenses,” Abu Abdullah, a government employee, told Arab News.


Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says

Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says
Updated 06 December 2021

Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says

Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says

CAIRO: Egypt will avoid water crises through investment and construction, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Aty has said.

In a presentation of the ministry’s strategy through 2050, Abdel-Aty also denied the “black propaganda” which asserts that “Egypt takes the lion’s share of Nile water.”

He said: “97 percent of our water resources come from the Nile and the rest is low percentages of rain and other outlets. Everyone must be aware of the importance of preserving water.”

As part of state efforts to avoid future water crises, the 2017-2037 strategy requires $50 billion in investment and financing, he added, saying that due to population growth, that figure could exceed $100 billion over the coming decades.

Abdel-Aty said: “The new legislation for the Water Resources Law was very necessary, and the executive regulations for this law are being prepared, and they may be completed for issuance within two or three months.”

Egypt’s water needs exceed 114 billion cubic meters annually, according to ministry statistics. Total water resources accounting for reused water numbers 80 billion cubic meters per year, while the total amount of water from renewable resources measures 60 billion cubic meters.

The ministry’s strategy will involve four main areas: Rationalizing water use, improving water quality, providing additional water sources and creating a climate for optimal water management.

“There is no doubt that the water crisis will worsen with time, but the state will not allow a water crisis to occur in Egypt. We will contribute to raising awareness of the importance of rationalizing consumption. There is an optimal utilization of water resources,” Abdel-Aty said.

“We are facing black propaganda that Egypt takes the lion's share of the waters of the Nile, and this is not true.”

He added that Egypt’s climate means that it does not have sufficient access to green water, unlike Ethiopia. “They also have more blue water, and there are lakes in Ethiopia that contain 50 billion cubic meters of water.”

Abdel-Aty said: “Efforts made by the state on the issues of good water management and rationalization have not happened since the days of Muhammad Ali. The political leadership is keen to take all measures aimed at the good management of water resources.”


Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours
Updated 06 December 2021

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours
  • Action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks

RIYADH: More than 280 Houthi militia members were killed in one of the largest operations targeting the Iran-backed group in Marib in just 24 hours, the Arab coalition said Monday. 
The Arab coalition said it conducted 47 operations against the Houthi militants in Marib, during which34 Houthi vehicles were destroyed as well as ammunition storage sites, Al Arabiya TV reported.  
The action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks, including weapons and personnel.


UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader

UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader
Updated 06 December 2021

UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader

UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader

TEHRAN: Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s National Security Adviser, met with Iranian president Ibrahim Raisi on Monday, state news agency WAM said in a report.
During the meeting, both sides discussed bilateral relations between the two nations and potential ways to enhance these ties. 
Al-Nahyan and Raisi also exchanged views on several issues of common interest.


Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh

Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh
Updated 06 December 2021

Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh

Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh
  • Five other Peshmerga fighters were wounded in the violence late Sunday in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD: Four Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed in an attack blamed on the Daesh group, a security official said Monday, the third such assault in less than two weeks.
Five other Peshmerga fighters were wounded in the violence late Sunday in northern Iraq that targeted an outpost north of Kirkuk, the source said.
Kurdish army forces confirmed the deadly attack but did not say how Peshmerga fighters were killed in wounded, in a statement accusing Daesh of responsibility.
It was the third attack blamed on Daesh militants in less than two weeks against the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.
On Thursday, Daesh claimed responsibility for an assault south of the Kurdish capital of Irbil that killed at least nine Peshmerga fighters and three civilians.
At the end of November, five Peshmergas were killed in a roadside bombing also claimed by the militant group.
Daesh seized swathes of Iraq in a lightning offensive in 2014, before being beaten back by a counter-insurgency campaign supported by a US-led military coalition.
The Iraqi government declared the extremists defeated in late 2017, although the Daesh retains sleeper cells which still strike security forces with hit-and-run attacks.


Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead

Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead
Updated 06 December 2021

Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead

Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead
  • Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing, car-ramming and occasional shooting attacks in recent years
  • Most have been carried out by lone attackers with no known connection to militant groups

JERUSALEM: A 16-year-old Palestinian rammed a vehicle into an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank overnight, wounding a security guard before being shot and “neutralized” at the scene, the Israeli Defense Ministry said Monday.
Israeli media reported that the alleged attacker was killed, while a ministry official declined to comment further.
The attack came two days after a Palestinian from the occupied West Bank stabbed and wounded an Israeli man just outside Jerusalem’s Old City and tried to stab a Border Police officer before being shot and killed. Video taken by bystanders showed the police continuing to shoot the attacker after he had dropped to the ground and preventing medics from approaching him.
The shooting drew comparisons to a 2016 incident in which an Israeli soldier was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground. The soldier was imprisoned for several months in a case that divided the country.
The Israeli Justice Ministry said the two officers involved in Saturday’s shooting were brought in for questioning before being released without conditions. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other top officials have praised the officers’ response to the attack.
Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing, car-ramming and occasional shooting attacks in recent years. Most have been carried out by lone attackers with no known connection to militant groups, which have praised the attacks without claiming responsibility for them.
Rights groups say Israel sometimes uses excessive force, killing suspected attackers who could have been arrested and did not pose an immediate threat. Israeli officials say forces must make split-second decisions in dangerous situations and that all such incidents are investigated.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state. The territory’s 2.5 million Palestinian residents live under Israeli military rule, with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority administering cities and towns.