US calls on Iran to halt ‘unprecedented’ weapons transfers to Yemen’s Houthis for attacks on ships

US calls on Iran to halt ‘unprecedented’ weapons transfers to Yemen’s Houthis for attacks on ships
A Houthi soldier stands on board of the Israeli Galaxy ship which was seized by the Houthis, in the port of Saleef, near Hodeidah, Yemen, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 14 May 2024
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US calls on Iran to halt ‘unprecedented’ weapons transfers to Yemen’s Houthis for attacks on ships

US calls on Iran to halt ‘unprecedented’ weapons transfers to Yemen’s Houthis for attacks on ships
  • The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, the US Maritime Administration said late last month

UNITED NATIONS: The United States called on Iran on Monday to halt its transfer of an “unprecedented” amount of weaponry to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, enabling its fighters to carry out “reckless attacks” on ships in the Red Sea and elsewhere.
US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the UN Security Council that if it wants to make progress toward ending the civil war in Yemen it must act collectively to “call Iran out for its destabilizing role and insist that it cannot hide behind the Houthis.”
He said there is extensive evidence that Iran is providing advanced weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles, to the Houthis in violation of UN sanctions.
“To underscore the council’s concern regarding the ongoing violations of the arms embargo, we must do more to strengthen enforcement and deter sanctions violators,” Wood said.
The Houthis say their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are aimed at pressuring Israel to end its war with Hamas in Gaza, which has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 others hostage.
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, the US Maritime Administration said late last month.
Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the rebels have been targeted by a US-led airstrike campaign in Yemen. Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.
But Hans Grundberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen, warned the council that “hostilities continue” even though there has been a reduction in attacks on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean as well as a reduction in the number of US and British airstrikes on targets in Yemen.
He pointed to an announcement by the Houthis that they will “expand the scope of attacks,” calling this “a worrisome provocation in an already volatile situation.”
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council that the Israeli announcement on May 6 that it was starting its military operation in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where 1.2 million Palestinians had sought safety, ratcheted up the spiral of escalation in the region “another notch further.”
“There’s no doubt that this will have an impact on the situation in Yemen’s surrounding waters,” he said, noting the Houthis’ opposition to Israeli attacks that harm Palestinian civilians.
But, Nebenzia added, “We call for a swift cessation of the shelling of commercial vessels and any other actions that hamper maritime navigation.”
He sharply criticized the United States and its Western allies, saying their “totally unjustified aggressive strikes” in Yemen violate the UN Charter. He said they further complicate an already complex situation and won’t improve the situation in the Red Sea.
The war between the Houthis and pro-government forces in Yemen backed by a coalition of Gulf Arab states has raged since 2014. The Houthis swept down from the mountains, seized much of northern Yemen and the country’s capital, Sanaa, and forced the internationally recognized government to flee into exile to Saudi Arabia. Since then, more than 150,000 people have been killed by the violence and 3 million have been displaced.
Fighting has decreased markedly in Yemen since a truce in April 2022, but there are still hotspots in the country
Grundberg recalled that in December the Houthis and the government “took a courageous step toward a peaceful solution” by agreeing to a series of commitments that would provide for a nationwide ceasefire, ensure desperately needed humanitarian aid, and initiate a political process to end the conflict.
But UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths reported “alarmingly high” levels of severe food deprivation across the country that are expected to worsen during the lean season for crops starting in June.
Griffiths also expressed serious concern about a rapidly worsening cholera outbreak. He cited reports of 40,000 suspected cholera cases and over 160 deaths — “a sharp increase” since last month, the majority in Houthi-controlled areas “where hundreds of new cases are reported every day.”


Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island

Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island
Updated 18 sec ago
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Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island

Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island
  • Campaigners urge UN and international community to do more to help free detained Yemeni civilians and halt militia’s campaign of torture and terror
  • Houthi abuses will continue unless punished, says rights activist as he calls on UN and donors to ‘face this escalation with strength’ and ‘take a stand’

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis reportedly attacked another commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden on Monday, as the Yemeni militia appears to be stepping up attacks on vessels along key maritime routes.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations, an agency that tracks attacks on shipping, said it received an alert from a ship’s master about an explosion in “close proximity” to the ship. It happened in an area 246 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, a coastal town in the government-controlled Yemeni province of Mahra, close to Yemen’s remote Socotra island.

“The crew are reported safe, and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the agency said.

It was the second incident in the area reported by the UKMTO in the space of 24 hours. The captain and crew of a vessel abandoned ship on Sunday after it was damaged and took on water about 96 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, the agency said.

On Sunday, the Houthis claimed credit for two other strikes on commercial shipping. A vessel called the Transworld Navigator was attacked with an explosive-laden drone in the Red Sea, and another called the Stolt Sequoia was targeted with ballistic missiles in the Indian Ocean, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a televised statement. He accused the owners of the ships of violating the militia’s ban on shipping to Israeli ports.

According to the Marine Traffic ship-tracking app, the Stolt Sequoia is a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker traveling from Bahrain to France.

The US Central Command reported on Sunday night that the Houthis were thought to have used a drone to strike the Transworld Navigator, a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned and operated bulk cargo ship traveling from Malaysia to Egypt.

“Today, at 4 a.m. (Sanaa time), the crew reported minor injuries and moderate damage to the ship, but the vessel has continued underway,” the US military said.

Since their attacks on shipping began in November, the Houthis have sunk two ships, seized one and fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and remote-controlled, explosive-laden boats at commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in what they say is a campaign to put pressure on Israel to end its war in Gaza.

Yemenis have disputed the Houthi claims of support for the Palestinian people, accusing leaders of the militia of using the public outrage in Yemen over the killing of civilians in Gaza in an attempt to divert attention from their own internal problems, including growing public resentment over their failure to pay public-sector employees, and to recruit and rally the Yemeni public against opponents in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Yemenis from all sections of society and human rights organizations have launched an online campaign to draw global attention to the plight of dozens of Yemeni employees of the UN and other international organizations who are being held by the Houthis.

The militia abducted about 50 people in Sanaa this month, drawing widespread criticism from the UN as well as local and international rights groups.

In the online campaign, Yemenis call on the UN and the wider international community to take more action against the Houthis to secure the release of the detained workers, and to name and shame the militia for torturing and terrorizing the Yemeni people.

“This silence on their misdeeds serves as an indirect justification for them. The UN must take a stronger stand and compel them to end their crimes against humanity and free all abductees promptly and unconditionally.”

Yemeni human rights activist Riyadh Aldubai urged the UN and international donors to condemn the Houthi crackdown on Yemeni workers and relocate their agencies’ offices to government-controlled Aden, warning that the Houthis will continue their rights abuses if not punished.

“UN and donors must face this escalation with strength. Condemn the abductions, enforce strict measures, and relocate operations to reduce Houthi control. It’s time to take a stand,” he said in a message on X.


Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza

Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza
Updated 8 min 18 sec ago
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Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza

Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza
RABAT: Morocco has begun sending 40 tons of medical aid to Palestinians in war-torn Gaza, the Moroccan foreign ministry said on Monday.
The aid includes surgery equipment and supplies to treat burns and fractures as well as medicine for children, it said.
The aid was transported by air and will be loaded into Palestinian red crescent trucks at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which was first used by Morocco to deliver aid in March, a senior diplomatic source told Reuters.
Moroccan authorities say they are using their ties to Israel to promote peace and defend the rights of Palestinians, but there have been many protests in Moroccan cities criticizing these ties since the onset of the war in Gaza.
Israel’s ground and air campaign in Gaza was triggered after Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed more than 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left much of Gaza in ruins.

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April
Updated 27 min 3 sec ago
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Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April
  • Rainfall was UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago
  • UAE government announced $544 million to repair homes of Emirati families impacted by the flooding in April

LONDON: Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on Monday announced an $8 billion plan for a stormwater runoff system, two months after an unprecedented deluge and widespread flooding.
The drainage network announced by Sheikh Mohammed on social media platform X will be completed by 2033 with construction set to start immediately.

“It will cover all areas of Dubai and will absorb more than 20 million cubic meters of water per day,” Sheikh Mohammed said of the plan.
It “will increase the capacity of rainwater drainage in the emirate by 700 percent and enhance the emirate’s readiness to face future climate challenges,” he said, calling it the region’s largest such network.
Record rains lashed the UAE on April 16, flooding homes and turning streets into rivers. The downpour, worsened by a lack of storm drains, caused delays at Dubai airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.
The rainfall was the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago. Without drainage for excess water, authorities relied on trucks to pump up the water with giant hoses and drive it away.
The World Weather Attribution group said global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions “most likely” exacerbated the intense rains that also hit the neighboring sultanate of Oman, where 21 people died.
The UAE government subsequently announced $544 million to repair homes of Emirati families impacted by the flooding.
“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Sheikh Mohammed after a cabinet meeting in April, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens.”
* With AFP

 


Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims

Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims
Updated 24 June 2024
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Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims

Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims
  • On Sunday, British daily The Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was storing missiles and rockets at Beirut airport
  • “The airport adheres to international standards,” said Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who led the visit
BEIRUT: Senior Lebanese officials on Monday defended procedures at Beirut airport during a tour for journalists and diplomats, a day after a British daily alleged Hezbollah was storing weapons at the facility.
The accusations came during escalating exchanges of fire and bellicose rhetoric between Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and Israeli forces, which have engaged in near-daily fire since war in Gaza began.
Hezbollah has been acting in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas since the militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the Gaza war.
On Sunday, British daily The Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was storing missiles and rockets at Beirut airport, where “whistleblowers” had reported the arrival of “unusually big boxes” from Iran.
Hezbollah has not made any official comment.
“The airport adheres to international standards,” said Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who led the visit together with Lebanon’s ministers for foreign affairs, tourism and information.
Representatives from foreign missions including Egypt, Germany and the European Union delegation joined the tour of the airport’s warehouse facilities.
Hamieh on Sunday held a press conference to reject The Telegraph report as false and “to say that there are no weapons entering or leaving Beirut.” He invited ambassadors and reporters for the tour.
At the airport, Hamieh described The Telegraph report as part of “psychological war” on Lebanon and said it was a “distortion of the reputation” of Lebanon’s only international airport.
The tour “included an import and export center... that accounts for 20 percent of the import traffic and is concerned with services for Iranian planes which were the subject of The Telegraph report,” Hamieh said.
Another warehouse accounted for the remaining 80 percent of imports and exports, he told a press conference.
Israel has for years accused Hezbollah of keeping weapons in installations throughout Lebanon, including near Beirut airport, an accusation Hezbollah has denied.
Israel bombed Beirut airport when it last went to war with Hezbollah in 2006.
Beirut airport manager Fadi El-Hassan said all aircraft arriving at the facility, including Iranian planes, “are subject to the same customs procedures.”
Egyptian ambassador Alaa Moussa said that while diplomats were not responsible for inspecting the airport for prohibited items, “our presence (at the tour) is a message of support” to Lebanon and “a message to all parties that what is needed... is calm.”
More than eight months of exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have left at least 481 people dead in Lebanon, mostly fighters, but also including 94 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.

Medics aim to screen thousands of Gaza children for malnutrition

A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital in Deir Al-Balah.
A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital in Deir Al-Balah.
Updated 24 June 2024
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Medics aim to screen thousands of Gaza children for malnutrition

A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital in Deir Al-Balah.
  • IMC and partners are planning to reach more than 200,000 children under 5 years old as part of a ‘Find and Treat’ campaign

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Medics in Gaza said on Monday they were working to step up screening of young children for severe malnutrition amid fears that hunger is spreading as people flee to new areas.
Aid group International Medical Corps (IMC) and partners are planning to reach more than 200,000 children under 5 years old as part of a ‘Find and Treat’ campaign, one of its doctors, Mumawwar Said, told Reuters by phone.
“With the displacement, communities are settling in new locations that do not have access to clean water, or there is not adequate access to food,” he said. “We fear there are more cases being missed.”
Over the weekend, families were already coming into an IMC clinic in the central city of Deir Al-Balah, opened after the agency said it had to shut down two centers in the southern city of Rafah due to insecurity.
Five-year-old Jana Ayad had weighed just 9 kilograms when she arrived, suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, Nutrition Officer Raghda Ibrahim Qeshta told Reuters as she carefully held the child.
“My daughter was dying in front of me,” said Nasma Ayad as she sat next to the bed. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Jana had started putting on some weight after treatment, medics said, but she was still painfully thin with her ribs showing as she lay listlessly in her bunny pyjamas.
Staff can gauge nutrition levels by measuring the circumference of children’s arms. During a Reuters cameraman’s short visit at least two of the measurements were in the yellow band, indicating a risk of malnutrition.
A group of UN-led aid agencies estimates that around 7 percent of Gazan children may be acutely malnourished, compared with 0.8 percent before the Israel-Hamas conflict began on Oct. 7.
Until now the worst of severe hunger has been in the north, with a UN-backed report warning of imminent famine in March.
But aid workers worry it could spread to central and southern areas due to the upheaval around Rafah that has displaced more than 1 million people and constrained supply flows through southern corridors.
Israel launched its military operation in Gaza after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
It says it has expanded efforts to facilitate aid flows into Gaza and blames international aid agencies for distribution problems inside the enclave.