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.


UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum
Updated 13 sec ago

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum
  • Israeli censorship a concern, says ALECSO representative

CAIRO: The Palestinian education system should be protected from attempts to censor material being taught at schools.

This was the concern raised by some officials at the 32nd joint meeting of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the Council of Educational Affairs of the Arab League in Cairo, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The gathering took place at the Arab League’s headquarters in Egypt’s capital.

Dr. Tamer Anis, a representative of the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization, drew attention to Israel’s attempts to censor the Palestinian curriculum. He urged support for the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

Arab News had reported this year about attempts by Israel to impose a “sanitized” curriculum on East Jerusalem’s schools that includes the deletion of all photos of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the word Palestine and the Palestinian flag. Holy Qur’anic verses were also deleted on claims that they help strengthen Palestinian, Arab and Islamic identities.

At Sunday’s meeting in Cairo, Saeed Abu Ali, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general for Palestine and the occupied Arab territories, said the gathering comes in the wake of the UNRWA’s ongoing financial crisis, which has had a direct impact on the services provided to Palestinian refugees.

Abu Ali stressed the need for the next UNRWA budget to reflect the growing needs of Palestinian refugees. He added that the Arab League would continue to keep communication channels open between the two organizations

Rawda Al-Hajj, the representative of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that ISESCO continues to support several education projects in Palestine.

The UNRWA’s Deputy Director of Education Moritz Bilagher reiterated that the Palestinian refugee crisis was not solely the responsibility of Arab countries, but rather a global issue for which the international community must take responsibility.

 


Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate
Updated 05 December 2022

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate
  • Israeli president among 300 high-ranking personalities attending the event

DUBAI: Israeli president Isaac Herzog has arrived in the UAE Monday to attend the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, state news agency (WAM) reported.

Herzog was welcomed by the UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi.

The Israeli president will be among 300 high-ranking personalities and decision makers attending the first edition of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, which opened on Monday.

The two-day event will discuss the space industry’s most pressing challenges and factors to drive the new space economy.


Iran-backed hackers stage phishing campaign against activists, journalists: HRW

Iran-backed hackers stage phishing campaign against activists, journalists: HRW
Updated 05 December 2022

Iran-backed hackers stage phishing campaign against activists, journalists: HRW

Iran-backed hackers stage phishing campaign against activists, journalists: HRW
  • Espionage group linked to IRGC gains access to emails of 3 victims

LONDON: Iran-backed hackers have staged a targeted campaign against more than a dozen high-profile human rights activists, journalists, academics and government officials, Human Rights Watch said.

The organization found that a coordinated phishing attack had been launched by an Iran-linked hacking entity known as APT42, believed to be a cyberespionage group.

The HRW report said that two of its employees were targeted, alongside 18 other people, resulting in the hacking of emails belonging to three individuals.

APT42 gained access to the emails, cloud storage, calendars and contacts of a US newspaper correspondent based in the Middle East, a Gulf-based women’s rights activist as well as a refugee advocate in Lebanon.

HRW said that the phishing attack was launched via WhatsApp, with 15 of the targets receiving suspicious messages between September and November this year.

The message, disguised as a conference invitation, allowed APT42 to gain access to the Google accounts of the three victims after they were invited to enter their two-factor authentication details on false pretenses.

Iran has long engaged in phishing attempts as part of its cyberwarfare strategy.

Since 2010, hackers and espionage groups linked to the regime in Tehran have successfully hacked and leaked the data of government, military and business targets around the world.

In September, APT42 members were sanctioned by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department.

Google as well as cybersecurity businesses Recorded Future and Proofpoint have said that APT42 operates on behalf of Iranian authorities.

Earlier this year, cybersecurity company Mandiant said that the group’s activities were directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

APT42 uses sophisticated social engineering strategies in disguising phishing attempts, HRW said.

In gaining the trust of victims, APT42 members use the real information of conference organizers to create fake accounts and contact high-profile activists and officials.

Previous attacks have seen the group impersonate members of the Munich Security Conference and the G20 Think 20 Summit in Saudi Arabia to contact targets and launch phishing attacks.

Abir Ghattas, information security director at HRW, said: “Iran’s state-backed hackers are aggressively using sophisticated social engineering and credential harvesting tactics to access sensitive information and contacts held by Middle East-focused researchers and civil society groups.

“This significantly increases the risks that journalists and human rights defenders face in Iran and elsewhere in the region.”

She added: “In a Middle East region rife with surveillance threats for activists, it’s essential for digital security researchers to not only publish and promote findings, but also prioritize the protection of the region’s embattled activists, journalists and civil society leaders.”


Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment

Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment
Updated 05 December 2022

Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment

Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment
  • Iran’s chief prosecutor Mohamed Jafar Montazeri earlier said the morality police ‘had been closed’

CAIRO: An Iranian lawmaker said Sunday that Iran’s government is “paying attention to the people’s real demands,” state media reported, a day after a top official suggested that the country’s morality police whose conduct helped trigger months of protests has been shut down.
The role of the morality police, which enforces veiling laws, came under scrutiny after a detainee, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, died in its custody in mid-September. Amini had been held for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress codes. Her death unleashed a wave of unrest that has grown into calls for the downfall of Iran’s clerical rulers.
Iran’s chief prosecutor Mohamed Jafar Montazeri said on Saturday the morality police “had been closed,” the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. The agency did not provide details, and state media hasn’t reported such a purported decision.
In a report carried by ISNA on Sunday, lawmaker Nezamoddin Mousavi signaled a less confrontational approach toward the protests.
“Both the administration and parliament insisted that paying attention to the people’s demand that is mainly economic is the best way for achieving stability and confronting the riots,” he said, following a closed meeting with several senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi.
Mousavi did not address the reported closure of the morality police.
The Associated Press has been unable to confirm the current status of the force, established in 2005 with the task of arresting people who violate the country’s Islamic dress code.
Since September, there has been a reported decline in the number of morality police officers across Iranian cities and an increase in women walking in public without headscarves, contrary to Iranian law.
Montazeri, the chief prosecutor, provided no further details about the future of the morality police or if its closure was nationwide and permanent. However he added that Iran’s judiciary will ‘‘continue to monitor behavior at the community level.’’
In a report by ISNA on Friday, Montazeri was quoted as saying that the government was reviewing the mandatory hijab law. “We are working fast on the issue of hijab and we are doing our best to come up with a thoughtful solution to deal with this phenomenon that hurts everyone’s heart,” said Montazeri, without offering details.
Saturday’s announcement could signal an attempt to appease the public and find a way to end the protests in which, according to rights groups, at least 470 people were killed. More than 18,000 people have been arrested in the protests and the violent security force crackdown that followed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations.
Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said Montazeri’s statement about closing the morality police could be an attempt to pacify domestic unrest without making real concessions to protesters.
‘‘The secular middle class loathes the organization (morality police) for restricting personal freedoms,” said Alfoneh. On the other hand, the “underprivileged and socially conservative class resents how they conveniently keep away from enforcing the hijab legislation” in wealthier areas of Iran’s cities.
When asked about Montazeri’s statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian gave no direct answer. ‘‘Be sure that in Iran, within the framework of democracy and freedom, which very clearly exists in Iran, everything is going very well,’’ Amirabdollahian said, speaking during a visit to Belgrade, Serbia.
The anti-government demonstrations, now in their third month, have shown no sign of stopping despite a violent crackdown. Protesters say they are fed up after decades of social and political repression, including a strict dress code imposed on women. Young women continue to play a leading role in the protests, stripping off the mandatory Islamic headscarf to express their rejection of clerical rule.
After the outbreak of the protests, the Iranian government hadn’t appeared willing to heed the protesters’ demands. It has continued to crack down on protesters, including sentencing at least seven arrested protesters to death. Authorities continue to blame the unrest on hostile foreign powers, without providing evidence.
But in recent days, Iranian state media platforms seemed to be adopting a more conciliatory tone, expressing a desire to engage with the problems of the Iranian people.


Iranian city shops shut after strike call, judiciary blames ‘rioters’

Iranian city shops shut after strike call, judiciary blames ‘rioters’
Updated 05 December 2022

Iranian city shops shut after strike call, judiciary blames ‘rioters’

Iranian city shops shut after strike call, judiciary blames ‘rioters’
  • 1500tasvir Twitter account shared videos of shut stores in key commercial areas like Tehran’s Bazaar
  • Amusement park in Tehran was earlier closed because its operators were not wearing the hijab properly

DUBAI:  Iranian shops shut their doors in several cities on Monday, following calls for a three-day nationwide general strike from protesters seeking the fall of clerical rulers, with the head of the judiciary blaming “rioters” for threatening shopkeepers.
Iran has been rocked by nationwide unrest following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 in police custody, posing one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police for flouting the strict hijab policy, which requires women to dress modestly and wear headscarfs.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday that an amusement park at a Tehran shopping center was closed by the judiciary because its operators were not wearing the hijab properly.
The reformist-leaning Hammihan newspaper said that morality police had increased their presence in cities outside Tehran, where the force has been less active over recent weeks.
Iran’s public prosecutor on Saturday was cited by the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency as saying that the morality police had been disbanded. But there was no confirmation from the Interior Ministry and state media said the public prosecutor was not responsible for overseeing the force.
Last week, Vice President for Women’s Affairs Ensieh Khazali said that the hijab was part of the Islamic Republic’s general law and that it guaranteed women’s social movement and security.
In the shop protests, 1500tasvir, a Twitter account with 380,000 followers focused on the protests, shared videos on Monday of shut stores in key commercial areas, such as Tehran’s Bazaar, and other large cities such as Karaj, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Shiraz.
Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.
The head of Iran’s judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, said that “rioters” were threatening shopkeepers to close their businesses and added they would be swiftly dealt with by the judiciary and security bodies. Ejei added that protesters condemned to death would soon be executed.
The Revolutionary Guards issued a statement praising the judiciary and calling on it to swiftly and decisively issue a judgment against “defendants accused of crimes against the security of the nation and Islam.”
Security forces would show no mercy toward “rioters, thugs, terrorists,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the guards as saying.
Witnesses speaking to Reuters said riot police and the Basij militia had been heavily deployed in central Tehran.
The semi-official Fars news agency confirmed that a jewelry shop belonging to former Iranian football legend Ali Daei was sealed by authorities, following its decision to close down for the three days of the general strike.
Similar footage by 1500tasvir and other activist accounts was shared of closed shops in smaller cities like Bojnourd, Kerman, Sabzevar, Ilam, Ardabil and Lahijan.
Kurdish Iranian rights group Hengaw also reported that 19 cities had joined the general strike movement in western Iran, where most of the country’s Kurdish population live.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the unrest since the death of Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by the morality police for flouting hijab rules.