UN, international community condemn Houthi drone attack on Yemeni oil terminal

UN, international community condemn Houthi drone attack on Yemeni oil terminal
Yemen’s internationally-recognized government said its forces had intercepted armed drones launched by the Houthi militia. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 October 2022

UN, international community condemn Houthi drone attack on Yemeni oil terminal

UN, international community condemn Houthi drone attack on Yemeni oil terminal
  • US called on the Houthis to immediately halt such attacks
  • Arab countries and organizations also strongly condemned the incident

LONDON: The UN on Saturday condemned an armed drone attack launched By Yemen’s Houthi militia on a southern oil terminal in Hadramout province a day earlier, saying it was a “deeply worrying” military escalation.
“I condemn the aerial attack claimed by Ansar Allah yesterday, Oct. 21, against the vessel at Al-Dhabba oil terminal in Hadramout governorate,” the UN’s envoy to Yemen said referring to the Houthis by their official name.
“At this critical juncture, I call on the parties to show utmost restraint and double their efforts to renew and expand the truce, lay the groundwork for a permanent cease-fire, and activate a political process to end the conflict,” said Hans Grundberg.
“I reiterate that all parties must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he added in a statement.

Yemen’s internationally-recognized government said on Friday that drones launched by the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the Al-Dhabba oil terminal, located in the southern town of Al-Shihr, as the Nissos oil tanker was preparing to dock.
Grundberg held a phone call with Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak on Friday to discuss the “catastrophic consequences of the Houthi attacks on oil ports,” the minister had said, adding that he stressed that the Houthis are only “reinforcing the conviction that they are merely a terrorist group, not a peace partner.” He also called for the UN to take a “strong stance against these terrorist acts.”
Bin Mubarak said he also held a call with the US ambassador to Yemen, Steven Fagin, to discuss the consequences of the attacks on civilian facilities and commercial ports, and how it would worsen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, adding he “demanded strong measures to put an end to Houthi terrorism.”
Separately, Fagin said the US strongly condemned the incident and called on the Houthis to immediately halt such attacks, which hinder navigational rights and freedoms and jeopardize international commerce.
“We are glad that no lives were lost in the attack and that the ship was able to depart safely, but such attacks threaten Yemen’s peace and security, hinder the flow of essential goods, and will only trigger further economic instability and suffering across the country,” Fagin said in a statement.

“We remind the Houthis that the world is watching their actions and that the only path forward to ending eight years of destructive war is to deescalate and redouble efforts to reach a durable cease-fire and end Yemen’s conflict through a negotiated political settlement,” he said. “Only through an extension of the truce can we ensure payment of salaries, free movement on Yemen’s roads and through its ports and airports, and an end to the cycle of destructive violence that has plagued Yemen for eight years.”

The UK government said this is “a part of a pattern of Houthi attacks which hurt first and foremost the Yemeni people. Such attacks hinder the flow of trade which then directly increases the cost of key daily services and products for Yemenis. We urge the Houthis to stop harming  the Yemeni people.” 

The Delegation of the European Union to Yemen said: “Houthi attacks on international shipping are an affront to core principles of the law of the sea, jeopardizing freedom of navigation through the region’s waterways and blocking access to Yemeni ports. They deprive Yemenis the ability to afford fundamental necessities and could impact the flow of essential goods into Yemen.”

A UN-mediated truce in Yemen that had been in place since April, expired on Oct. 2 without the parties reaching an agreement, amid differences over payment of salaries for civil servants in Houthi-controlled areas, and the incident is the first major escalation since then.
During a separate call with Sweden’s envoy to Yemen Peter Semneby, the Yemeni foreign minister reiterated that the international community should take concrete measures to put an end to the Houthi-Iranian UAVs aggression.
The Arab League also condemned the attack and said that the present dangerous Houthi escalation represents a disregard and a defiance to the tireless international and regional efforts aimed at renewing the truce, adding that the militia’s targeting of oil ports will further deteriorate the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and would pollute the marine environment.
The Arab Parliament affirmed its full solidarity with the legitimate government in “whatever it takes to confront the coup militias,” asserting its rejection of the escalation by the Houthis and their determination to foil the peace efforts.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation stressed that the attack represents a threat to regional and international energy supplies, is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2216 and international laws and norms, and a threat to global energy corridors and the marine environment.
Secretary-General Hussein Ibrahim Taha called on the Iran-backed group to respond to international and regional efforts to renew the truce, and to cooperate with all efforts to reach a political and comprehensive solution to the Yemeni crisis.
The Gulf Cooperation Council also warned of the threat the attack poses on civil and economic facilities and global energy supplies and installations, and called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to ensure such acts are not repeated, in order to preserve the movement of trade and oil supplies, and maintain security and stability in the region.
Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf affirmed the GCC’s firm position toward supporting everything that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen, backing the endeavours of the legitimate Yemeni government, and the UN efforts to renew the truce in Yemen and to reach a comprehensive political solution to end the war.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan also issued similar statements condemning the attack, calling it a dangerous escalation, and calling on the international community to unite efforts and take a decisive stance to stop the crimes committed by the Houthis.

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’
Updated 07 June 2023

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’
  • Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen: Harris was perhaps not fully informed about the details of the judicial changes his government was seeking

WASHINGTON: US vice president Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that Israel’s democracy requires “an independent judiciary,” wading into the controversy over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul that has drawn mass protests in Israel.
“America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the US-Israel relationship, which includes continuing to strengthen our democracies, which as the (Israeli) ambassador has said, are both built on strong institutions, checks and balances, and I’ll add: an independent judiciary,” Harris said.
The vice president spoke at a reception celebrating the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding hosted by the country’s embassy in Washington. Her remarks on the judiciary drew applause.
Harris also reiterated the Biden administration’s “ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”
Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen said Harris was perhaps not fully informed about the details of the judicial changes his government was seeking, which were intended, he said, to ensure a strong and independent judiciary which was more balanced.
“If you ask her what troubles her about the reform, she may not be able to cite even one clause that bothers her,” Cohen told Israel’s public broadcaster Kansas “I don’t know whether she read the bill, my estimation is that she has not.”
Weeks of unprecedented street demonstrations followed Netanyahu’s proposed package of reforms of the Supreme Court, which members of his religious-nationalist coalition accuse of overreach and elitism.
Under pressure at home and abroad, including from US President Joe Biden’s administration, Netanyahu has suspended the overhaul to try to negotiate a consensus with the political opposition.
Critics see a threat to independence of the courts by the prime minister, who is on trial on graft charges that he denies.
Top economists and national security veterans have warned of fallout, saying an independent court system is crucial to Israel’s democratic norms and economic strength.
Before Harris spoke, Israeli president Isaac Herzog said in a video address to the crowd that he planned to visit the White House and address a joint session of the US Congress “in the near future.” The trip is expected in July.
Biden has yet to extend a White House invitation to Netanyahu, despite Israel’s status as a key Middle East ally.
The two leaders have had chilly relations since Biden took office. Biden had pressed Netanyahu in recent months to drop the judicial overhaul plan.
Netanyahu, who was prime minister for three years in the 1990s and then from 2009 to 2021, took office again in December to start his sixth term.

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster
Updated 07 June 2023

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster
  • He was arrested after being identified by CCTV cameras

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities on Tuesday seized and jailed a 16-year-old youth for drawing a moustache on an election campaign poster showing re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, media reports said.
Several media close to the opposition, including daily newspapers BirGun, Cumhuriyet and private TV station Halk TV, said the youth from the southeastern town of Mersin was accused of defacing the poster near his home with a pen, scribbling “a Hitler moustache and writing insulting comments.”
He was arrested after being identified by CCTV cameras, media reports said. Authorities interviewed him at his home where he reportedly “admitted drawing the moustache” while denying writing the accompanying comments.
Taken before the public prosecutor he was found to have “insulted the president” and was jailed at a nearby youth facility, according to Halk TV.
Erdogan extended his 20-year rule over Turkiye after winning the May 28 second round of the presidential election to embark on a new five-year term.
According to the justice ministry, “insulting the president” is one of the most common crimes in Turkiye, resulting in 16,753 convictions last year.

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive
Updated 06 June 2023

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive
  • Two of Gaza’s zoos have closed

GAZA: Large paintings of a bear, an elephant and a giraffe decorate the outer walls of NAMA Zoo in Gaza City, but none of these wild creatures is represented live among those caged inside.

Six years ago, the lone tiger died, and despite visitors’ frequent demands for a replacement, the owners have not been able to afford to buy or feed a new one.

There were once six zoos in Gaza, a narrow coastal enclave which has been closed off behind security walls since 2007.

But with the economy crippled by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, two of the zoos have closed.

“Because of the lack of resources and capabilities and the high prices of animals it is difficult to replace an animal you lose,” said Mahmoud Al-Sultan, the medical supervisor of the NAMA zoo.

The original animals at the zoo were smuggled through tunnels from Egypt over a decade ago. 

As well as four pairs of lions, each of which goes through 60 kg of meat a week, the zoo has crocodiles, hyenas, foxes, deer and monkeys, as well as a lone ibex and a solitary wolf.

At the lions’ cages, children stand to take pictures from a distance and giggle as they touch the bars on the cages of deer and birds. 

A ticket costs less than $1 because people can’t afford more, Sultan said.

“I come here to have some fun, but I see the same animals every time,” said nine-year-old Fouad Saleh. “I wish I could see an elephant, a giraffe or a tiger.”

For the moment, that appears unlikely. Gaza lacks the medical facilities to treat animals like lions and tigers.

In the past, the Four Paws international animal welfare group has had to rescue animals and find them new homes in Israel, Jordan or as far away as South Africa.

“We struggle to afford the food,” said Sultan. “Sometimes we provide frozen food, chicken, turkeys, and sometimes if a donkey is injured we have it slaughtered and shared out between the lions.”

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag
Updated 06 June 2023

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag

DUBAI: The UAE is tightening insurance requirements for vessels registered under its flag, according to a government advisory, amid growing concerns over ships sailing without top tier cover in the event of an oil spill.

Ships typically have protection and indemnity insurance which covers liability claims including environmental damage and injury. Separate hull and machinery policies cover vessels against physical damage.

About 90 percent of the world’s ocean going tonnage is covered by the 12 ship insurers that make up the International Group.

P&I insurers outside of the IG that cover UAE flagged ships will need to meet a number of requirements including providing evidence of membership of a recognized maritime related professional agency or regulatory body, the UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said in a June 2 advisory posted on its website.

Other requirements include providing details of the five largest settled claims or details of claims over $10 million, the advisory said, adding that applications needed to be submitted before June 30.

The advisory, which was also addressed to ship owners, said evidence would need to be shown about so-called blue cards, which cover pollution damage.

The UAE flagged fleet includes dozens of oil tankers — many of which are old — and over 200 offshore vessels typically used in oil related trading, according to shipping data on public database Equasis.

Hundreds of “ghost” tankers, which are not fully regulated, have joined an opaque parallel shipping trade over the past few years, carrying oil from countries hit by Western sanctions and restrictions, including Russia and Iran.

The number of incidents last year, including groundings, collisions and near misses involving these ships reached the highest in years, a Reuters investigation showed.

Ports in China’s Shandong province are demanding more detailed information about oil tankers that are more than 15 years old that call at their terminals, sources with knowledge of the matter said this week.

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’
Updated 06 June 2023

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’
  • Residents of Tuti island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages

KHARTOUM: Battles raged in Sudan’s war-torn capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, witnesses said, and the residents of an island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages.

Eight weeks of fighting have pitted army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan against his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

A number of broken ceasefires have offered brief lulls but no respite for residents of the city, where witnesses again reported “the sound of heavy artillery fire” in northern Khartoum.

Witnesses also said there were “clashes with various types of weapons” in south Khartoum, where “the sound of explosions shook our walls.”

In the city center, at the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers, the island of Tuti is “under total siege” by RSF forces, resident Mohammed Youssef said.

Paramilitaries have blocked the only bridge to the island and prevented residents from going by boat to other parts of the capital.

“We can’t move anyone who’s sick to hospitals off the island,” Youssef said. “If this continues for days, stores will run out of food.”

Since the fighting began on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Al Arabiya channel reported that the warring parties had resumed indirect ceasefire talks in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The UN says that more than a million and a half people have been displaced, both within the country and across its borders.

For those still in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur — which together have seen the worst of the fighting — the situation is growing increasingly dire.

“We face a massive humanitarian crisis that is only going to get worse with the collapse of the economy, collapse of the health care system,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned.

The danger will increase with “the flood season fast approaching and the looming hunger crisis and disease outbreaks that now are becoming more inevitable.”

Sudan’s annual rainy season begins in June, and medics have repeatedly warned that it threatens to make parts of country inaccessible, raising the risks of malaria, cholera and water-borne diseases.