Rescue mission for Yemen’s deteriorating SFO Safer tanker nears completion

Rescue mission for Yemen’s deteriorating SFO Safer tanker nears completion
The long-awaited operation to resolve the issue of the ageing tanker SFO Safer, currently decaying off the coast of Yemen, is set to end in the coming days, the Yemeni government said on Wednesday. (AFP/File)
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Updated 09 August 2023
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Rescue mission for Yemen’s deteriorating SFO Safer tanker nears completion

Rescue mission for Yemen’s deteriorating SFO Safer tanker nears completion
  • The UN announced on July 25 the start of the operation to pump more than 1.1 million barrels of oil from the Safer to head off a major environmental disaster in the Red Sea
  • Moored off the western Yemeni city of Hodeidah, the four-decade-old tanker has attracted international attention over the past few years

AL-MUKALLA: The long-awaited operation to resolve the issue of the ageing tanker SFO Safer, currently decaying off the coast of Yemen, is set to end in the coming days, with over 96 percent of the ship’s oil cargo transferred to a replacement tanker, the Yemeni government said on Wednesday.
Capt. Yeslem Mubarak, vice executive chairman of the Maritime Affairs Authority and acting head of the Safer National Committee, told Arab News that as of 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 1.105 million barrels of oil had been siphoned from the Safer, with the current phase of the operation to conclude over the weekend. The Yemeni official said the pumping process slowed as oil levels reduced.
The UN announced on July 25 the start of the operation to pump more than 1.1 million barrels of oil from the Safer to head off a major environmental disaster in the Red Sea.
Moored off the western Yemeni city of Hodeidah, the four-decade-old tanker has attracted international attention over the past few years after images revealed water seeping into the vessel as corrosion ate away at its hull.
Russell Geekie, communications advisor to UN Humanitarian Coordinator David Gressly, recently told Arab News that the UN still requires $28 million in additional funding to complete the second phase of the operation, which includes removing the deteriorating tanker itself and safely recycling it, as well as attaching a catenary anchor leg mooring buoy to the replacement tanker.
Critics, including some Yemeni government officials, argue that the UN is effectively setting another time bomb in the Red Sea by allowing the newly loaded oil tanker to moor in the area next to the deteriorating Safer until the government and the Houthis agree on who will receive the proceeds of the oil sales.
Officials say that the Houthis may use the new tanker as leverage to extract concessions from the Yemeni government and international community, as they did previously with the Safer.
“We hope that efforts will result in a solution to the problem of selling oil so that the disaster can be completely averted before the condition of the alternative tanker deteriorates, as the Houthis’ failure and inability to provide funds for its maintenance will again turn it into a ticking time bomb, as was the case with the Safer,” Mubarak said.


Deaths from heavy rains in UAE rise to four

Deaths from heavy rains in UAE rise  to four
Updated 3 sec ago
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Deaths from heavy rains in UAE rise to four

Deaths from heavy rains in UAE rise  to four
  • Scientists blame human-led global warming for increasingly common extreme weather events, such as the rains in UAE and Oman

DUBAI: Deaths from heavy rains earlier this week in the UAE rose to four, authorities said on Friday, as well as flooding roads and jamming Dubai’s international airport.
The storm first hit Oman at the weekend, killing at least 20 people, before pounding the UAE on Tuesday with its heaviest rains in 75 years of records.
Two Philippine women and one man died in their vehicles during flooding, the government in Manila said. An Emirati man in his 70s had also died when his vehicle was swept away by floods in the northern Ras Al-Khaimah emirate.

BACKGROUND

Dubai International Airport was still struggling on Friday to clear a backlog of flights three days after the storm.

Scientists blame human-led global warming for increasingly common extreme weather events, such as the rains in UAE and Oman.
Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest and a hub for travel around the Middle East, was still struggling to clear a backlog of flights three days after the storm.
It was limiting arrivals for two days until Sunday.
Flagship carrier Emirates, one of the world’s biggest international airlines, said check-in was suspended for people planning to transit via Dubai though those with the city as a final destination could travel as usual.
According to aircraft flight tracking website FlightRadar24, as of Friday morning, 1,478 flights to and from Dubai had been canceled since Tuesday, approximately 30 percent of all flights.
In Abu Dhabi, state carrier Etihad said flight operations were normal.
The main road connecting Dubai, the most populous emirate, with Abu Dhabi remained partially closed on Friday, while an alternative route saw vehicles driving through low water on the hard shoulder past abandoned cars and buses.
In the UAE’s north, including in the emirate of Sharjah, local media reported people were reportedly still trapped in homes. Residents said there was extensive damage to businesses.
The UAE’s National Center of Meteorology said rain may return by late on Monday, though predicted it would be light with a chance of heavy rain again on Tuesday in some areas.

 


West Bank villagers vigilant but vulnerable after settler attacks

West Bank villagers vigilant but vulnerable after settler attacks
Updated 29 min 24 sec ago
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West Bank villagers vigilant but vulnerable after settler attacks

West Bank villagers vigilant but vulnerable after settler attacks
  • “Hundreds of settlers entered the village, followed by more than 300 Israeli soldiers who stormed the village and declared it a closed military zone,” said Suleiman Dawabsha, head of Duma’s village council

RAMALLAH: Sitting around a fire in the hills of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Ibrahim Abu Alyah and some friends stood watch over his herd in the aftermath of a settler attack on their village.

“We are here so that we can put away the sheep and tell people to protect their homes in case settlers come,” said Abu Alyah.
After 14-year-old Israeli herder Benjamin Achimeir went missing on April 12 in the nearby illegal settler outpost of Malachi Hashalom, dozens of Jewish settlers raided his village of Al-Mughayyir, north of Ramallah.
Armed with rifles and Molotov cocktails, they set houses ablaze, killed sheep, wounded 23 people, and displaced 86, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA.
One Palestinian was also killed in the violence.
Abu Alyah, a shepherd, lost “20 or 30 sheep” and the cash he made from selling milk products when his house was set alight.

We currently have more than 70 prisoners inside Israeli prisons on charges of joining protection committees or trying to form an organized body.

Amin Abu Alyah, Al-Mughayyir’s mayor

Al-Mughayyir’s mayor, Amin Abu Alyah, said the settlers, who were part of the search party for Achimeir, burnt “everything they found in front of them,” including houses, a bulldozer, and vehicles.
He said several citizens tried to organize protection committees to defend themselves from raids but were prevented.
“We currently have more than 70 prisoners inside Israeli prisons on charges of joining protection committees or trying to form an organized body,” he said.
In the nearby village of Duma, 5 km north of Al-Mughayyir, old fears came true on Saturday when hundreds of settlers entered the surrounding fields.
That day, Achimeir’s body was found bearing marks of a stabbing attack.
People watched powerless as settlers rampaged through the village.
“Hundreds of settlers entered the village, followed by more than 300 Israeli soldiers who stormed the village and declared it a
closed military zone,” said Suleiman Dawabsha, head of Duma’s village council.
Mahmud Salawdeh, a 30-year-old iron worker whose house was torched in the attack, felt vulnerable when he realized the soldiers were not stopping the attack.
“We feel helpless because we are unable to protect ourselves, and the army protects the settlers,” he said.
“I lost all my money and my future,” he added from the ground floor of his charred house on the outskirts of Duma, near the fields the attackers came through.
At his feet, burnt furniture and shattered glass covered the floor, while walls black with soot served as a reminder of the firebombs thrown at the building.
His workshop in the adjacent room was torched, charred remnants of old tools lay around, and a large wooden box where he had been raising 70 chicks was now empty.
The incident opened old wounds for Duma residents, who remember the tragedy that struck the Dawabsha family.
In 2015, the family’s home was set ablaze by a settler extremist, killing the couple and their toddler and leaving only one surviving member, four-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha.
Duma residents, like many West Bank villagers, say they are protected neither by Palestinian security, which is only allowed to operate in 40 percent of the territory, nor by Israel, which controls the rest.
Israeli soldiers do not always restrain settlers from attacking Palestinians, OCHA said.
In January, “in nearly half of all recorded incidents (of settler violence) after 7 October, Israeli forces were either accompanying or reported to be supporting the attackers,” it said.
OCHA recorded 774 instances of Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians since war broke in Gaza on Oct. 7, and said 37 communities had been affected by violence between April 9 and 15, “triple the number” of the preceding week.
At least 462 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops or settlers in the West Bank during that period, according to Palestinian official figures.
Meanwhile, the administration of US President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on two entities accused of fundraising for extremist Israel settlers already sanctioned, as well as the founder of an organization whose members regularly assault Palestinians.
Included in the Friday sanctions are two entities — Mount Hebron Fund and Shlom Asiraich — accused of raising funds for sanctioned settlers Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai. Both men were previously sanctioned by the Biden administration for violently attacking Palestinians in the West Bank.
The penalties aim to block them from using the US financial system and bar American citizens from dealing with them.
The fundraising campaigns established by Mount Hebron Fund for Levi and by Shlom Asiraich for Chasdai generated the equivalent of $140,000 and $31,000, respectively, according to US Treasury.
In Levi’s case, the fund now sanctioned by the Biden administration is linked to the settler council in the area, a body that receives state money.
The Biden order on Friday stopped short of sanctioning the settler council itself.

The West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967, has seen a surge in violence since early last year, which has intensified since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza erupted.
Despite the hardships, “we will never leave,” said the herder Abu Alyah.
But the 29-year-old already had to move in September from his former herding grounds on the other side of Al-Mughayyir, closer to the settlement outpost.
The weekend’s attacks marked a peak in violence due to the sheer number of people who took part in them, but also reflects a wider trend in the West Bank, NGOs said.
“It is clear that the escalation of violence in the West Bank has occurred in tandem with the crisis in Gaza,” charity ActionAid said in a statement.
On Wednesday evening, settlers were planting Israeli flags along the road that runs between Al-Mughayyir and Malachi Hashalom.

 


Mikati, Macron discuss Lebanon crisis as Army chief presents military needs in Paris talks

Mikati, Macron discuss Lebanon crisis as Army chief presents military needs in Paris talks
Updated 36 min 32 sec ago
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Mikati, Macron discuss Lebanon crisis as Army chief presents military needs in Paris talks

Mikati, Macron discuss Lebanon crisis as Army chief presents military needs in Paris talks
  • Israeli raid kills official working for educational body affiliated with Hezbollah

BEIRUT: Israel continued its raids on Hezbollah positions on Friday amid reports of dawn explosions in Iran, as Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and the Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces Gen. Thierry Burkhard also attended the extended meeting.

According to reports, Aoun presented a study to the French military commander, as well as the head of the Italian armed forces, about the needs of the Lebanese Army, its current situation, challenges, and logistical and material requirements.

FASTFACT

Hezbollah forces based in Lebanon have clashed with the Israeli army in recent weeks, marking their most serious hostilities since a war between them in 2006.

The discussion focused on “how to assist in enhancing the situation of the Lebanese army in the south, provided that a committee is formed to study these needs and how to secure the necessary support and funding.”

The international community insists on Lebanon’s compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, while Lebanon, in return, demands assistance for its military to enable it to deploy more of its forces in the south to implement the resolution.

Aoun described his separate meetings with his French and Italian counterparts as “positive.”

Israeli warplanes carried out an attack on a house in the town of Aita Al-Shaab with two air-to-ground missiles.

The raid resulted in the killing of Mohammed Hassan Abdel Mohsen Fadlallah, 54, who worked at the Islamic Education Foundation (Al-Mahdi Schools), an educational institution affiliated with Hezbollah.

Israeli Army spokesman Avichay Adraee said on X that “reconnaissance soldiers from Battalion 869 spotted saboteurs inside a military building belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in the Aita Al-Shaab area. An airstrike targeted the building and the saboteurs who were stationed there.”

Hezbollah announced a few hours later the targeting of a gathering of Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of the Al-Raheb site with artillery shells.

Israeli forces fired machine guns at one of the Wazzani areas while Israeli artillery shelled the outskirts of the town of Rmeish.

The total number of Hezbollah deaths has now reached 280 since the beginning of the war.

Russia Today news agency — citing Israel’s Yneti website — claimed it had the names of a number of high-ranking Hezbollah members who were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon since the start of the clashes on the southern front on Oct. 8.

The report stated that the Israeli Army often carries out attacks against vehicles, “demonstrating its deep knowledge of Hezbollah's organizational structure and role distribution in the field.”

According to the report, 14 senior Hezbollah figures have been killed in the attacks.

They include Ismail Youssef Baz, the commander of the coastal sector of Hezbollah; Mohammed Hussein Mustafa Shahhouri, the commander of the rocket and missile unit in the western sector of the Radwan Force; Ali Ahmed Hussein, the commander of the Hajir region of the Radwan Force; Ali Abdul Hassan Naeem, deputy commander of the rocket and missile unit in Hezbollah; and Ali Mohammed Al-Debs, a central commander in the Radwan Force.

The report also published the following names: Hassan Mahmoud Saleh, commander of the attack in the Jabal Douf area; Mohammed Alawiyah, commander of Hezbollah’s Maroun Al-Ras area; Hassan Hussein Salama, a commander in Hezbollah’s Nasser unit; Wissam Al-Taweel, a commander in the Radwan Force; Ali Hussein Burji, commander of the southern Lebanon region of Hezbollah’s air unit; Hussein Yazbek, local commander of Hezbollah in Naqoura; Abbas Mohammed Raad, a leader in the Radwan Force and son of the head of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc; Khalil Jawad Shehimi, a leader in the Radwan Force; and Ali Mohammed Hadraj, commander the Palestine branch of the Quds Force in the Tyre area.

Hezbollah usually mourns its dead without acknowledging their political or military roles within the organization.

 

 


Kuwait economic fund signs coordination MoU with ILO

Kuwait economic fund signs coordination MoU with ILO
Updated 19 April 2024
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Kuwait economic fund signs coordination MoU with ILO

Kuwait economic fund signs coordination MoU with ILO
  • MoU aims to coordinate joint actions in economic and social development in developing countries

WASHINGTON: The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has agreed a memorandum of understanding with the International Labor Organization to enhance development cooperation, Kuwait News Agency reported.
The MoU was signed by KFAED Acting Director General Waleed AI-Bahar and ILO Assistant Director General for External and Corporate Relations Laura Thompson on the sidelines of the 2024 spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington DC.
The MoU establishes a framework for technical cooperation and aims to coordinate joint actions in economic and social development in developing countries. This includes exchanging expertise and information in economic, financial and commercial sectors.
The five-year renewable agreement focuses on collaborative activities aligned with the goals of both organizations in the countries in which they operate. The partnership will also involve sharing resources in areas of mutual interest such as statistics, policy enhancement, youth economic empowerment, gender equality at work, crisis response and South-South cooperation.
Regular consultations are planned to ensure effective coordination of operations in the targeted nations.
 


International reactions after Israel’s reported attack on Iran

International reactions after Israel’s reported attack on Iran
Updated 19 April 2024
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International reactions after Israel’s reported attack on Iran

International reactions after Israel’s reported attack on Iran
  • Widespread calls for utmost restraint between Iran and Israel to avoid serious repercussions

PARIS: Here are some international reactions Friday after Israel’s reported attack on the Iranian province of Isfahan, where it has military bases and nuclear facilities:

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated that it was “high time to stop the dangerous cycle of retaliation in the Middle East,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General condemns any act of retaliation and appeals to the international community to work together to prevent any further development that could lead to devastating consequences for the entire region and beyond,” Stephane Dujarric said.
RUSSIA
Russia has made clear to Israel that Iran “does not want escalation,” Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, after reports Israel had carried out retaliatory strikes against its arch-rival.
“There have been telephone contacts between the leadership of Russia and Iran, our representatives and the Israelis. We made it very clear in these conversations, we told the Israelis that Iran does not want escalation,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian radio stations.

UAE
The United Arab Emirates’ foreign ministry on Friday expressed concern about regional tensions in a statement, calling for ‘utmost restraint’ to avoid serious repercussions.
JORDAN
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Friday Israeli-Iranian retaliations must end, warning against danger of regional escalation.
GERMANY
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for de-escalation following a strike on the Iranian city of Isfahan and said Berlin would work with its partners in this direction.
“De-escalation remains the order of the day in the near future. And we will also talk about this with all our friends and allies, and work together with them in this direction,” Scholz told reporters on Friday.
G7

G7 foreign ministers Friday urged “all parties” to “work to prevent further escalation” in the Middle East, following reports that Israel had carried out revenge strikes on Iran.

“In light of reports of strikes on April 19th, we urge all parties to work to prevent further escalation. The G7 will continue to work to this end,” the Group of Seven industrialized nations said in a statement.

The ministers from Italy, the UK, US, France, Germany, Japan and Canada said they “demand that Iran and its affiliated groups cease their attacks”.

SPAIN

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called Friday for all sides to avoid “an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East” after reports that Israel carried out retaliatory strikes on Iran.

“We must avoid any action that would lead to an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East. The seriousness of the moment demands responsibility and restraint from all parties,” he wrote on X.

JAPAN’S CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY YOSHIMASA HAYASHI

“Japan is deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East and strongly condemn any actions that lead to the escalation of the situation.

“Japan will continue to make all necessary diplomatic efforts to prevent the situation from worsening further.”
CHINA
“China opposes any actions that further escalate tensions and will continue to play a constructive role to de-escalate the situation,” said foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian.
IAEA
“IAEA can confirm that there is no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites. Director General Rafael Grossi continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts. IAEA is monitoring the situation very closely,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said on X.
OMAN
“The Sultanate of Oman is following the continuing tension in the region and condemns the Israeli attack this morning on Isfahan,” the foreign ministry said, adding that it also “condemns and denounces Israel’s repeated military attacks in the region.
“Oman once again appeals to the international community to address the causes and roots of tension and conflict through dialogue, diplomacy and political solutions, and to focus on ceasefire efforts in Gaza and resort to international law and United Nations resolutions to reach a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue.”
EC PRESIDENT URSULA VON DER LEYEN
“We have to do everything possible (so) that all sides restrain from the escalation in that region ... It is absolutely necessary that the region stays stable and that all sides refrain from further action,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
UK
“We have condemned Iran’s reckless and dangerous barrage of missiles against Israel on Saturday and Israel absolutely has a right to self-defense. But as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when I spoke to him (this week) and more generally, significant escalation is not in anyone’s interest, what we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
ITALY
“We invite everyone to be cautious to avoid an escalation,” Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told RAI news on Capri where Italy is hosting a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations.
“This is something we from the government’s side take very seriously and are following very closely,” Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said.
“There has to be an end to the exchange of blows and escalation.”