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. 

SPEEDREAD

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.


Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough
Updated 15 min 25 sec ago

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough
BRUSSELS: US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sounded upbeat after their first face-to-face talks on Monday, although they did not announce major breakthroughs in the relationship between the two allies, at odds over Russian weapons, Syria, Libya and other issues.
“We had a positive and productive meeting, much of it one-on-one,” Biden told a news conference after their meeting in Brussels.
“Our teams are going to continue our discussions and I’m confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey and the United States,” he added.
Erdogan characterised his talks with Biden on the sidelines of a NATO summit as “productive and sincere.”
“We think that there are no issues between US and Turkey relationship that are unsolvable and that areas of cooperation for us are richer and larger than problems,” he said.
Despite their publicly optimistic tone, neither provided any details on how exactly they would mend the relationship or lay out steps that would help ease tensions between the NATO allies.
Turkey, with NATO’s second-largest military, has angered its allies in the Western military alliance by buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and intervening in wars in Syria and Libya. It is also in a standoff with Greece and Cyprus over territory in the Eastern Mediterranean.
As president, Biden has adopted a cooler tone than predecessor Donald Trump toward Erdogan. Biden quickly recognized the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide — a position that angers Turkey — and stepped up criticism of Turkey’s human rights record.
Washington has already removed Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program and imposed sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
One area where Erdogan hoped to showcase a central Turkish role in NATO is Afghanistan, where Ankara has offered to guard and operate Kabul airport after US and NATO forces withdraw in coming weeks. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey would play a key role but that no decision was made at the Monday summit.
At the start of the main leaders’ session at NATO, Biden spoke to Erdogan at length in a small group before they took their seats.
Later in the day, the two leaders and their top aides sat mostly silently on opposite sides of a conference table, ignoring questions shouted to them by journalists briefly invited into the room.
Erdogan also met French President Emmanuel Macron. Ankara and Paris have been at odds over Syria, Libya and Turkish criticism of the fight against what Macron calls Islamist separatism, among other issues.
“President Erdogan confirmed during our meeting his wish that the foreign mercenaries, the foreign militias, operating on Libyan soil leave as soon as possible,” Macron told a news conference afterwards.

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

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Updated 32 min 49 sec ago

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Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government
Updated 25 min 49 sec ago

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government
  • Bahrain's crown prince sent a congratulatory telegraph to new Israeli Prime Minister
  • UAE’s foreign minister congratulated Israeli foreign minister on his new position

CAIRO: Bahrain’s crown prince sent a congratulatory telegraph to new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The crown prince expressed his sincere wishes to the formed government for success in its tasks “in a way that strengthen the pillars of development, stability, and peace in the region and the world,” Bahrain state news agency (BNA) said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed discussed in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart “the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in addition to the Abraham Accords,” the minister’s office tweeted on Monday.
Bin Zayed congratulated the Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, on his new position and wished him success, the tweet said.


Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel
Updated 46 min 7 sec ago

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

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Palestinian children fly kites on a beach of Gaza City carrying the portraits of the 66 children killed in the Palestinian enclave by Israeli airstrikes during the last conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas.


Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
Updated 14 June 2021

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
  • Video showing brawl between Bassil’s entourage & young woman goes viral on social media, triggers waves of criticism
  • Bassil’s media office denied beating incident and said ‘the era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over’

BEIRUT: A video of a brawl between a Lebanese woman and Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil’s bodyguards after she publicly told him ‘shame on you’ went viral on Sunday.

The woman was having lunch with friends in a newly-opened restaurant at Al Batroun, the birthplace of Bassil, Lebanese President’s son-in-law and a strong political ally of Iran-backed party Hezbollah, when the altercation happened.

Once the woman, identified by media as Yasmine Al-Masri, saw Bassil at the restaurant she yelled at him saying the Arabic for “shame on you.”

She is believed to have been provoked by his audacity showing up in public as if he is not one of the major instigators and those responsible for the country’s political deadlock, economic collapse and corruption.

It was reported in different media outlets that Bassil’s entourage instantly rushed toward Al-Masri, whacked her brutally and pinned her down to the floor. Meanwhile as the bodyguards were violently silencing and preventing her from shouting, Bassil made his way hurriedly to his car.

Arab News contacted the restaurant where the incident happened.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by thawramap (@thawramap)

“The incident happened around lunchtime. She yelled at lawmaker Bassil and told him what means ‘shame on you’ for what you’ve been doing to the people… she reacted like any other independent citizen would do as to how dare he provocatively show his face in public,” a waiter told Arab News. He declined to give his name due to the sensitivity of the issue and fear of losing his job.

In the video that Al-Masri recorded using her mobile phone, the footage showed the entourage escorting Bassil to his waiting car while her voice could be heard heatedly arguing with one of the bodyguards who walked toward her and battered her hand. The video footage was clearly flipped upside down after Al-Masri was attacked by the bodyguard and her phone got broken.

Revealing what happened, Al-Masri told MTV channel she yelled at Bassil once he entered the restaurant by telling him ‘tfeh 3lek’ [shame on you] maintaining that it is not a curse. “That is the least I could tell him. His bodyguard told me to keep my mouth shut and assaulted me. I stood up after I fell down due to the assault, grabbed my phone and followed the entourage wanting to film what they did,” she told the MTV stressing that her friend called others for help because she was brutally attacked.

Towards Sunday afternoon the video showing the incident snowballed on social media especially Twitter and Instagram.

Bassil’s media office claimed that he and his family were about to ride their car when a woman used foul language against him.

His entourage responded ‘naturally, peacefully and modernly’ to stop her from cursing, according to the media statement that confirmed the woman wasn’t beaten.

Bassil told Free Patriotic Movement supporters and members that ‘the era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over’ and to respond accordingly.

In response to that, popular TV host Ghada Eid tweeted saying ‘the era of leaving corruption unfought is over’.

Following the incident, a hashtag with Al-Masri’s phrase [tfeh 3lek] became trending in Lebanon.

A twitter user called Hassan said ‘This is the best trending topic in Lebanon this year so far’

Mariana tweeted ‘By showing violent behavior, bullies try to hide their own weakness.’

Another used tweeted about Bassil saying ‘Small Man with a Giant Ego’.

Samer Al Khoury tweeted ‘so lovely how you [Bassil] always trend when it’s an insult or corruption what a disgrace you are’.

International Lebanese artist Elissa said on twitter ‘every hand that beats a woman should be broken’.