Yemeni Government, World Bank to Discuss Reconstruction

Yemeni Minister of Industry and Trade Dr. Mohammed al-Maitami.

Riyadh- The Yemeni government and the World Bank are due to discuss Wednesday a document prepared by the bank on the reconstruction of Yemen, amid preliminary estimates that the cost of this project may amount up to $80 billion (SR 300 billion) as an impact of the devastation caused by the war.

Yemeni Minister of Industry and Trade Dr. Mohammed al-Maitami told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country’s government, represented by several ministries, will hold a meeting in Riyadh with experts from the World Bank.

The private sector will participate in the meeting, which will tackle the recovery and reconstruction process, Maitami said.

He explained that the meeting will discuss a document prepared by the World Bank several months ago in partnership with the brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council, entitled “Detailed Plan for Recovery and Reconstruction in Yemen.”

It is expected to be attended by technicians to provide comments on the document, which includes reconstruction issues in vital areas such as health, electricity, water, housing, the return of displaced people and refugees as well as building the recovery system in the Yemeni society during the peace process.

According to the Minister, the World Bank’s regional department in Yemen and representatives of relevant Yemeni ministries will participate in the one-day workshop.

“We believe that this document is vital and that it is the most important peace-building document in Yemen’s future.”

“Peace can not last in any country if it does not have a national and clear vision for reconstruction and recovery. Since World War II, there have been 144 countries that have witnessed conflicts because they did not have an integrated and agreed vision from the societal parties on reconstruction and recovery, thus increasing the conflict situation,” he further noted.

Houthis Accused of Misleading Yemenis through Sectarian Calls

Yemen- Houthis

Riyadh- A Yemeni official said that Houthi militias are deceiving people through media outlets, which they have seized following the coup, and he accused them of seeking to impose their extremist religious and sectarian beliefs on Yemenis, who have lived decades of tolerance and harmony among their various sects and social classes.

Yemenis denounced a program broadcast by the Houthi-controlled Sanaa radio station, saying that “the state is confined to the Houthis and that their mandate over the Yemenis, led by Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, is divine and inevitable.”

Adviser to Yemen’s Minister of Information Faisal al-Awadi told Asharq Al-Awsat that such calls are invalid and contrary to reason and logic, and the Yemenis do not take them into consideration.

“There is no social supporter of the Houthis who accept such views, especially that the province of Saada, the stronghold of the Houthis themselves, is the first to face their own project, not to mention the rest of Yemeni areas,” Awadi added.

The program claimed that “the prophets teach the Qur’an and wisdom and what applies to them is applied to their inheritors who must be from the same circle of prophecy,” indicating that they are descendants of prophets and should rule the country.

“We say that we are God’s supporters by divine command and by necessity, and we are a real example of the extension of the Prophet to Sayyed Abdul Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, who possesses the qualifications of faith,” the station insisted.

Awadi said that the Houthis used the state’s weapons to confront and suppress the people and were able to silence the voices opposing them, but the popular rejection and ridicule of these proposals would prevail.

“They have failed to mobilize people in the so-called Ghadir Day, and, instead, they filled the streets with sectarian slogans,” he said.

What the Houthis bring is false and is rejected by reason and common sense. It contradicts all laws, customs and traditions. Even in dark eras, they did not dare to raise such case, Awadi said.

Houthis not ‘Honored’ to be in Partnership with Saleh

Riyadh – In yet another escalation between insurgency allies, the political council of Houthi rebels has launched a scathing attack on the General People’s Council (GPC) led by former President Ali Abdallah Saleh.

The Houthi council said it was not honored to run the country’s affairs through a partnership with Saleh who is not fighting corruption.

Houthis have taken new restrictive steps against Saleh such as putting new conditions to keep the alliance with him, including not holding any events and approving their latest decisions namely in the judicial branch, Yemeni sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The tension between the two insurgency partners comes amid warnings from Yemeni vice president Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar that Houthis will try to eliminate those who helped them control Sana’a, in a hint to Saleh and his party.

Ahmar said that the Houthi rebels, with whom Saleh had formed a coalition to govern the capital Sana’a, will look to eliminate him out after what seemed to be a breakdown in relations earlier this month.

Speaking at a meeting with local officials in Marib, north Yemen, Ahmar said that it was in the Houthis’ nature to back-stab those they are supposedly cooperating with.

He added that the Houthi insurgents would not be where they are if the country’s political life was organized.

Ahmar warned that while others are working for the interest of the country, Houthis use the opportunity to achieve their own goals.

Houthis did confirm in their statement that they still support by all means available their partnership with the GPC despite accusations and defamation.

However, in a direct accusation of corruption, the insurgents said the GPC was hindering reform. The statement mentioned that more than once, Ansarallah members called for Higher Political council meetings to discuss national issues, but they were obstructed.

On Wednesday, the Houthi leader discussed over the phone current issues with Saleh, in what was described by analysts as a step to contain tension between the two sides.

Analysts noticed that media outlets of both parties issued the statement, which could mean that the two leaders are trying to limit the problem following the recent fallout.

Experts: Saudi Arabia Wants to End Exploitation of Its Youth

Undated image of explosives seized by Saudi security forces

Riyadh– A number of terrorism experts and researchers described the Saudi security decisive measures against intelligent services as “historic measures” to stop the activity of any foreign parties targeting the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the experts revealed that such cells and groups had been operating for three decades serving foreign agendas.

A top official stated that recently, head of state security was able to monitor espionage activity of a group of people for foreign countries that aim at attacking the security and social stability of the kingdom.

The source assured that all the members, including Saudis and foreigners, had been apprehended and are under investigation.

Expert in Criminology and fighting terrorism Yusuf al-Rumaih declared that those members and many others like them had been trying to create strife for over 30 years, from the times of cassettes and brochures till the modern times of tweets and messages.

“They are the same people. Same methodology. Only the outer appearances changed. The same content and ideology but a different form,” he said.

Rumaih stated that those people use religion to access people’s minds, adding that: “as long as they can’t achieve their goals through secularism, liberalism, and socialism, they will try to approach people through religion to accept their project.”

Rumaihi went on to explain that people in our region will accept anything as long as it includes a religious side. He also added that they focus on mobilizing teenagers and kids, and thus it is time to cure the country of this disease.

Former security adviser at the Interior Ministry Saoud al-Msebeeh confirmed that King Abdulaziz suffered long from such members who misuse religion for political purposes. He explained that since the foundation of the Saudi kingdom, the King fought Muslim Brotherhood and other movements.

Msebeeh said that Prince Mohammed bin Naif had warned that Muslim Brotherhood is the source of troubles in the Arab Islamic World, adding that they controlled the education system and tried to brainwash young people, and sadly many Saudi scholars and university professors were fooled by their methods.

we witnessed their enthusiasm for the destruction of the Arab world and their methods in instigating hatred and strife, he added. They even misused the social media for their own purposes.

“They are encouraged and supported by foreign intelligence services such as the Iranian, Qatari, and Western services,” he reported.

Msebeeh revealed that the measures taken by Saudi security are an extension of the efforts of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques and Crown Prince. He added that Houthis were thwarted in Yemen which restored the dignity of the Islamic and Arab world.

He concluded that we are now before a historic stage and it is time to rectify the situation and put an end to all of those who offended the kingdom.

Yemeni Army Says Coup Ranks on Verge of Collapse


Riyadh- Yemen’s national army announced that in the upcoming few days that a number of field victories labeled ‘decisive’ are anticipated nationwide. Most confrontations will end in the defeat of coup militias composed of armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Iran-allied Houthis.

The national army statement showed that insurgency militias are on the brink of completely falling apart as infighting continues to go public, at times reaching the point of armed confrontations.

“The new chief of staff, Major General Taher al-Aqili, will implement the plan set up in cooperation with the Saudi-led Arab coalition for restoring government rule to all coup-held areas,” Yemeni army spokesman Brigadier General Abdu Majali told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The plan requires further efforts, with the continued support of the coalition- whose efforts go highly appreciated- and in the coming days, we’ll see decisive victories and military advance in the safest and closest way to save the Yemeni people from the control of the coup militias,” he added.

The statements came after Major General Tahir al-Aqili, the newly appointed Yemeni army chief of staff visited Marib governorate, inspecting the field status quo and army posts.

“Maj. Gen. Tahir al-Aqili visited those wounded– He has looked into their situation, drew attention to them, provided them with full care, formed a committee to study the conditions of those in need of treatment abroad, and praised their efforts to achieve victory on various fronts and in their moral spirit,” said Brig.Gen. Majali.

“The new Chief of General Staff will follow the plan designed to free Yemen from coup militiamen’s control, in cooperation with the coalition countries, led by Saudi Arabia, providing all kinds of logistical support for the Yemeni army,” Brig.Gen. Majali added.

He also pointed out that the army was able to achieve victories, and gain more land, and currently controls about 80 percent of the geographical area of ​Yemen.

Speaking on latest battleground developments, Brig.Gen. Majali said that the most heated battlefronts currently are Midi and parts of the surrounding areas.

He also made note of a number of landmine diffusing teams being deployed to comb through territory made unsafe by militia mine networks.

“Their (insurgency forces) collapse is near and imminent, both in the coup-held capital Sana’a and in the other areas they control,” asserted Brig.Gen. Majli.

‘Jadidah Arar’ Border Crossing between Saudi Arabia, Iraq Revived

Arar- Saudis and Iraqis hope that al-Jadidah Arar crossing on Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq, which had been closed for more than 27 years, would become a vital transportation route while a bright future in relations seems to be shaping.

Saudi Arabia’s Chargé D’affaires in Baghdad Abdulaziz al-Shammari stressed that the opening of Jadidah Arar border crossing after all these years sends a great message to the peoples of the two countries that they need to support each other and unite.

“We are neighbors, and there is a great history, Arabism and blood between us. The next stage will be special in the history of the two countries’ relations,” Shammari said.

Asharq Al-Awsat has toured the area and noticed the great efforts exerted by all Saudi government agencies (such as border guards, passport control, the customs and the Ministry of Health), especially in welcoming Iraqi pilgrims through the crossing.

Jadidah Arar receives daily between 48 and 50 buses, carrying around 1,200 Iraqi pilgrims, according to officials in the Saudi General Directorate of Passports who also confirmed that these buses first pass through an inspection to check the pilgrims’ visas.

The procedure takes around two minutes for every bus before heading to the main office to complete the rest of the procedures, said one of the directorate’s employees.

Moreover, Saudi authorities have established a center for medical services at the crossing to serve Iraqi pilgrims and a hospital with a capacity of 50 beds with a medical staff, and developed equipment to receive emergency cases. Pilgrims are also given vaccines for fever and some chronic diseases, and many medical awareness publications are distributed to them.

Notably, many Iraqi pilgrims have benefited from these medical services, especially the elderly who suffer from chronic diseases and receive free medications.

Iraqi pilgrim Idriss Mohammed, 55, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudis have “provided us with everything we need; air-conditioned buildings, appliances, medicines and even food. We are brothers and our blood is one, and they are indeed Custodians of the two Holy Mosques.”

After the pilgrims finish the procedures of passports and customs control, buses go to the Ministry of Hajj, the last point before entering the city of Arar, where they are received and provided with ready meals prepared especially for them in air-conditioned tents with the help of volunteering Saudi scouts.

According to Iraqi Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Rushdi Al-Ani, Jadidah Arar border crossing will operate permanently from the two sides after this year’s Hajj season.

“The political decision has been taken regarding the borders, and the procedural and technical arrangements regarding the infrastructure and security issues will be handled soon. Jadidah Arar crossing will be opened after the end of the Hajj season,” the Iraqi ambassador confirmed.

Al-Shammari: Saudi Arabia will Implement Large Projects in Iraq


Arar- Saudi Arabia’s Chargé D’affaires in Iraq Abdulaziz al-Shammari listened to Asharq Al-Awsat’s questions regarding the acceleration of the pace of rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad and its future prospects and impact on the peoples of both countries.

Following his visit to Jadida Arar border with Iraq, where he held talks with Baghdad’s ambassador to Riyadh, Shammari stressed that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince have given directives to consider Iraq in all its classes and categories without discriminating between sects.

“The Saudi government is planning to implement large projects in Iraq to support the economy in the country, motivating the private sector and Saudi companies to enter the Iraqi market, start businesses there and seize opportunities,” Shammari said.

Any entry to a Saudi investor will be made through the Iraqi government, and there will be a lot of guarantees for investors and sites where they will invest in Iraq, Shammari confirmed.

The first phase will embrace projects implemented by the government of the Saudi leadership, so that it plays a significant role in supporting the Iraqi economy.

Despite acknowledging that the Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement will face some challenges, yet Shammari confirmed that the Iraqi citizen and the political leadership in Iraq have become aware of the sincerity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and how some countries took advantage of the disrupted relation between the two countries, where their two peoples had the biggest losses.

“I expect that the Saudi-Iraqi relations in the next phase will be perfect and unprecedented, relations have been cut off for more than 27 years, and what I noticed from the leadership of the two countries is a race to develop and to discuss all the ways to strengthen these relations,” he said, noting that it will be a strategic partnership and in the interest of the two countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Chargé D’affaires in Iraq also talked about his personal security in Baghdad, and the role played by the rapprochement in reducing sectarianism in the region.

Regarding the Saudi delegation’s activity in Baghdad and what it is doing currently there, Shammari said that the delegation is residing in al-Rasheed Hotel and is carrying out all its diplomatic activities as it is receiving businessmen, Iraqi citizens, Iraqi MPs and politicians from different sects.

“As you know, Iraq is a country of different components, and this is an advantage. It has more than one religion and more than one component that are united by one state. This has been the case for thousands of years,” he said.

Saudi Arabia Wants to Open an Embassy in Najaf, Iraq


Arar– Saudi Arabia could open a new embassy in Najaf, Iraq, within the upcoming four months at the latest, according to Charge d’Affaires of Saudi Embassy in Iraq Abdulaziz al-Shammari.

Shammari stated that the Saudi-Iraqi openness will reflect positively on people of both countries and achieve development and stability which will lead to establishing stability in Iraq.

Shammari comments came following his visit with Iraqi ambassador in Riyadh Rashidi Mahmoud al-Ani to al-Jadidah Arar border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Iraq In preparation for the crossing’s inauguration.

They toured the crossing facilities and talked to officials from both countries as well as Iraqi pilgrims.

The two officials visited the Saudi Northern Borders Province and met its Governor Prince Faisal bin Khalid in his office.

Iraqi embassy in Riyadh confirmed Sunday it had received an official request from Saudi foreign ministry to open a consulate in Najaf. Iraqi Ambassador said the move proves Saudi Arabia seeks to boost bilateral ties.

Saudi Charge d’Affaires believes that the past period had taught both countries a lesson on the importance of maintaining strong relations.

He stated that for 11 months in Baghdad, he witnessed the kindness and generosity of the Iraqi people. He blamed some media outlets for their attempts to harm the relations, but insisted that both countries are linked by blood and religion.

Shammari said that over the past few months, several Iraqi ministers visited the Kingdom and the officials of both countries agreed on a lot of investments and projects that serve the two countries, and a memorandum of understanding on air transport was signed.

When asked about the Arar border crossing, Shammari stated that the crossing is fully equipped to receive pilgrims, adding that it will be further developed in the near future to serve the trade movement between both countries, especially that it hadn’t been officially opened for 27 years.

Next month, Baghdad will host an international conference which most of important Saudi companies will be part of, according to Shammari.

The Charge d’Affaires also hailed the improved security in Iraq especially following the visit of Iraqi Interior Minister. He warned that the safety and security of Iraqi and Saudi citizens are “red lines” for both countries.

Speaking about trade and economic exchange, Shammari stressed that Saudi products are wanted in Iraq, confirming that there will be further developments and “good news” next year.

For his part, the Iraqi ambassador to the Kingdom hailed the opening of the crossing point and valued the services and facilities provided by the Kingdom to his country’s pilgrims. He also praised the medical services provided to pilgrims. According to statistics, over 8,500 Iraqi pilgrims had entered Saudi Arabia so far.

Al-Ani confirmed that he received an official request from Saudi Arabia to open a new embassy in Najaf, adding that the request was welcomed by Iraqis. He also stated that they are currently working on opening Jamim point crossing in al-Salman district.

The ambassador explained that recent developments in the strategic relations is a result of the meeting between Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

Iraqi pilgrim Ali Nawwar, 63, stated that the services provided were exquisite. He stated that tribes and people of both countries are all united. He also praised and thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Houthi Minister Confesses Plotting President Hadi’s Assassination


Riyadh- In a rare confession, Hassan Zaid, a “minister” of youth and sports working with the Houthis, said he had asked the head of the so-called Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Samad, to assassinate President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi while he was placed under house arrest in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, around two years ago.

In a post published on his Facebook page on Monday, Zaid revealed that during a telephone conversation conducted following confrontations between the presidential guards and Houthi militias in 2014, he had advised al-Samad to keep Abd Rabu under house arrest even if he had to kill him.

Zaid wrote: “This is the first time in my life that I confess about advising the killing or imprisoning of a person. When I learned about the confrontations between Ansr Allah and Abd Rabu’s guards, I told Mr. Saleh: Abd Rabu cannot leave the house, kill him if you must or arrest him if you are unable to, for his escape will be considered a sedition and a disaster.”

Following their invasion of Sana’a in 2014, Houthi militias had besieged the house of Hadi.

Saudi lawyer Dr. Majed Karoub said Zaid’s confession stipulates the trial of Hassan Zaid as a war criminal and a traitor of his state and national.

“The confession is considered as an evidence that Houthis are mercenaries. There is a need to trial him for conspiring against the state and for plotting the assassination of the legitimate president,” Karoub told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday.

Zaid also revealed on his Facebook post that his request was religiously thoughtful and a hasty reaction.

“Today, I cannot advise the killing of any person, because I fear holding the responsibility of such an act and I am not in a position of decision-making,” he added.

Yemeni Minister: ‘International Organizations’ Financial Activity to Undergo Close Monitoring’

Riyadh- Yemen’s government said on Thursday that it will closely monitor ingoing and outgoing fiscal transactions of international organizations working there.

Authorities will also conduct regular assessments to cover the organizations’ work and activity log, said local administration minister Abdul Raqeeb Fateh.

“Money is available with the support of our brothers in the Gulf, and possibilities are also available,” said the minister, who also heads the Higher Relief Committee in Yemen.

“We need a real and effective mechanism of action and avoid the routine regulations the United Nations organizations adopt and which Yemen cannot afford at the moment,” he added.

Fateh’s remarks came after the King Salman Relief Center signed a support agreement for the World Health Organization to tackle cholera in Yemen in Riyadh.

The Minister pointed out that there is no need nor time more diagnosis, the problems have become clear in terms of relief and health. The role now should focus on how to resolve current dilemmas.

“Following UN routine processing does not lead to real efficiency of the use of funds and real effectiveness on delivery,” he added.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, dubbed KSRelief, had signed with the World Health Organization (WHO) a USD337-million-worth initiative to combat the cholera epidemic in Yemen.

The project was signed by Advisor at the Royal Court, KSRelief’s General Supervisor Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah and WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, said the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Following the signing, Rabiah said that this second agreement was signed under the directive of Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, as an extension of efforts made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to alleviate suffering of the Yemeni people.

He said also that US66.7 million was allocated to fight the epidemic, as well as another USD8.2 million agreement signed with WHO several weeks ago tackling related challenges.