Yemeni Government Regrets UN Coordinator’s Silence towards Houthis’ Inhumane Actions

Yemen

Riyadh – Yemeni government welcomed the efforts by UN and peace-brokering countries in elevating the struggles of Yemenis, but at the same time it regrets that the UN coordinator isn’t taking any measures against insurgents who steal and resell medications and treatments of Cholera.

Yemeni Minister of Local Administration and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Relief Abdul-Raqib Fateh stated that the legitimate government has welcomed all initiatives, including ones suggested during Switzerland and Kuwait talks.

In spite of that, the armed militias are the primary issue here, stated the minister.

Fateh said that cholera spreads widely in areas under armed militias’ control, while it is being controlled in government-ruled areas which is a positive indication.

The minister told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that militias are involved in stealing and reselling cholera treatments, and sadly the UN coordinator remains silent and doesn’t seem to be bothered by that or issue statements against the inhumane actions.

Fateh said he was relieved with the US ambassador in Yemen Mathew Tueller’s statements. Earlier, Tueller told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US welcomed the legitimate Yemeni government’s positive response to the recent UN plan for Hodeidah.

“We are happy that US has an effective role in ending this crisis, but we are aware that Houthi and Saleh lie as much as they breathe. We hope the US intervention and initiative will be welcomed and accepted,” said the minister.

He pointed out that the legitimacy accepted UN’s suggestions for Hodeidah and the ball is in Houthi’s court now.

Speaking about the recent offer by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi suggested to head of Red Cross in Aden that all detainees and captives be released, Fateh said that the suggestion was “received negatively” by the armed militias.

The militias wouldn’t allow Red Cross director to visit detention centers in their areas, whereas the government allowed him to visit Taiz and meet the detainees freely.

Speaking about relief aid, the minister lauded the role of all countries helping Yemen, especially Gulf countries.

He explained that humanitarian aid is distributed to all Yemeni territories, adding that King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRELIEF) had distributed 150,000 food basket in Hodeidah and 150,000 others distributed through the civil society.

King Salman Relief Center is also working with GCC Aid Coordination Office which convenes during the first week of every month to coordinate and plan aid.

Palestinian Ambassador to Riyadh: The Kingdom Works in Silence, Achieves Concrete Results

Saudi

Riyadh– Palestinian Ambassador to Riyadh Bassem Al-Agha said on Thursday that Saudi Arabia has worked silently and away from the media, to resolve Al-Aqsa crisis, noting that the Kingdom was not looking to stir media propaganda, but to achieve positive results on the ground.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Al-Agha noted that efforts deployed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, along with the sacrifices of the Palestinian people have aborted the Zionist plan and would lead to further victories in the future.

The Palestinian ambassador stressed that Saudi Arabia was committed to supporting the Palestinian cause at all times and has never been late in meeting its obligations.

“About a month ago, the Kingdom has transferred around $30 million to UNRWA to help the refugees,” he stated.

He went on to say that efforts exerted by King Salman, which resulted in the removal of all Israeli measures around the Al-Aqsa, “reflect the pulse and feelings of every Saudi, Arab and Muslim citizen.”

The ambassador also noted that the Israeli plan was aimed at extending control over the holy mosque and imposing “spatial and temporal divisions” to determine the areas for Muslims and others for the Jews.

Meanwhile, a statement by the Saudi Royal Court issued on Thursday said: “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has held contacts with many world leaders over the past few days,” in order to prevent Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City from being closed to Muslims and to defuse political and religious tensions.

King Salman contacted the US government and called for an end to restrictions on entry to the mosque, the statement said, saying that developments showed this push had been successful.

The king “stressed the need for the return of calm,” and called for respect for the sanctity of the compound, it added.

Turkish Sources: Erdogan Did not Propose Initiative to Solve Crisis with Doha

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman on July 23.

Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat learned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not present any initiative or mediation role to solve the current Gulf crisis during his meeting with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Jeddah on Monday.

Yet, he stressed the importance of the unity of the GCC countries and the possibility to solve all problems through dialogue.

The Turkish President’s meeting with the Saudi King was positive, according to what senior Turkish officials told Asharq Al-Awsat, noting that he stressed the continued development of bilateral relations in all fields and that relations were not affected by the current Qatari crisis.

King Salman held a talking session with Erdogan at al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, and the two parties reviewed developments in the region and efforts exerted to combat terrorism and its sources of funding, in addition to the bilateral relations.

In this context, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Erdogan and reviewed bilateral relations and means of developing them in addition to the latest developments in the region, especially means to combat terrorism.

Erdogan voiced his support for mediation efforts being led by Kuwait and said initiatives underway to resolve the crisis through dialogue should continue, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Turkish president arrived in Jeddah, west of Saudi Arabia, Sunday noon as part of a two-day Gulf tour to mediate a solution to the crisis with Qatar.

He left Jeddah on Sunday evening for Kuwait to meet with Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in his second stop before heading to Qatar Monday as part of his efforts to resolve the current crisis.

Erdogan left Doha Monday afternoon at the end of his talks with Qatari officials.

Pro-Houthi Official Accused of Withholding Medications in Hodeidah

A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen, March 23, 2017.

Riyadh – As the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Yemen’s cholera outbreak was far from being over, Houthi militias continued to withhold three vehicles loaded with cholera medications for the fourth day in a row in the province of Hodeidah, west of Yemen.

Yemeni Minister of Local Administration and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Relief Abdul-Raqib Saif Fateh strongly condemned Houthi and Saleh insurgents for withholding the three trucks. He told Saba News Agency that residents of Hodeidah can no longer endure the violations preventing medications from reaching those in need, especially with the rapidly growing outbreak of the disease in several districts.

The minister held the insurgents responsible for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen and contributing to the outbreak of cholera, especially after they began selling the medicines in the black market and withholding aid trucks.

Fateh pointed out that all medication provided are distributed for free.

Local media outlets confirmed that Hodeidah customs director, appointed by Houthi militias, Abdul Rahman al-Nashad is withholding aid medicines and insists on imposing customs duties on them, rejecting orders to facilitate their entrance.

Yemeni political author Hamdan al-Ali accused Houthi militias of being the primary cause of the cholera outbreak in the country and its spread. He added that in advanced stages, Houthis didn’t honor their duties to distribute special treatments to the ill.

Ali said that this behavior is not strange given that Houthis withheld humanitarian and medical aid vehicles several times before. He added that insurgents don’t care about civilians’ lives and treat them as hostages to pressure the international community and legitimate government to execute their demands and accept them in their current form.

World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman Fadela al-Chaib said in a press briefing in Geneva that from 27 April to 19 July 2017, 368,207 suspected cholera cases and 1,828 deaths had been reported in 91.3 percent of Yemen’s governorates and 88.6 percent of districts.

“The rainy season had just started and might increase the pace of transmission. Sustained efforts were required to stop the progression of the disease,” added Chaib.

Medical experts confirmed that medicines held on board convoys of vehicles in the customs yard are being exposed to the sun which means they have probably been damaged and no longer valid for medical use.

They warned that maximum one-day exposure to the sun in the very high temperature of Hodeidah during the summer is enough to destroy them, while these shipments have been detained for four days so far.

Other sources also revealed that Hodeidah customs director is part the corruption process that involves local pharmacological corporation. They take advantage of the fact that there are no customs on cholera medicines. They would import large numbers and then sell them on the black market at high prices.

“Houthis are used to taking advantage of the humanitarian situation to achieve their personal agenda,” according to the sources who preferred to remain anonymous.

Analysts: Qatar Backed Yemen’s Houthis with Iranian Coordination to Target Saudi Arabia

Houthis

Riyadh – Qatar’s support of Yemen’s Houthi rebels has “revealed the truth of the ties that have existed for some time now between the two sides,” analysts told Asharq Al-Awsat.

They said that Qatar’s negative approach, not only harms the Gulf Cooperation Council and its national security, but it is tantamount to “military and security suicide after it already committed suicide on the political and media levels.”

The analysts noted that Doha played a negative and harmful role through its support of the Houthis with the coordination of Iran. It then persuaded the military branch of the Muslim Brotherhood to ally itself with the Houthis in order to target Saudi Arabia.

President of the Washington DC-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), Salman al-Ansari, stated that trusted intelligence information revealed that Qatar joined operation Decisive Storm in order to provide Houthis with the coordinates of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition. This consequently led to several martyrs from among the Saudi and Emirati ranks of the alliance in Yemen.

Doha also sought to join the alliance to serve the Yemeni Gathering for Reform, which is affiliated with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, added al-Ansari.

Qatar’s recognition of the legitimacy of the Houthis and possible opening of an office for them in Doha “will be military and security suicide,” he added.

“This development will turn Qatar into a country that goes against international consensus and a clear violator of United Nations Security Council resolutions 2216, 2201, 2342 and 2140, which all prohibit providing support to the rebels in Yemen,” he continued.

Saudi political analyst Dr. Khalid Batrafi said: “Qatar’s ties with the Houthis exist and they are strong. It is better that they are out in the open than being under the table, because you can better follow and confront actions that are done in the open.”

Yemeni political analyst Dr. Najib Ghallab stated: “Had it not been for Qatar’s backing of the Houthis, the extremist group would have been destroyed a long time ago.”

“Qatar sough to support the Houthis just when they were on the brink of dying. The Arab Coalition could have destroyed them had Qatar not interfered through an agreement with Iran,” he explained.

“This intervention saved the Houthi movement,” he stressed.

It even struck an agreement that saw Houthi prisoners freed from jail. Each former detainee was given a rifle and 10,000 Qatari riyals. These individuals stormed Sana’a in 2014 and they are the actual leaders of the coup, Ghallab remarked.

Furthermore, he noted that several Yemenis rejected Qatar’s mediation, “but strangely enough, it managed to convince the Muslim Brotherhood’s military and political wings that were combating the Houthis that reconciliation with it was important because a conspiracy is being spun around them.”

“I believe that Qatar had its own clear agenda of targeting Saudi Arabia through this reconciliation and its ongoing support for the Houthis is linked to Iran’s revolutionary goals,” he added.

Qatar Plans Military Deal with US as a Way Out of its Crisis

Qatar

Jeddah– Qatar is pressing ahead with plans to invest in the US to show that the political crisis with Saudi Arabia and its allies hasn’t impacted its ability to strike global deals, according to a report issued by Bloomberg.

Doha is trying to influence Washington’s position supporting the four states boycotting it: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain and to highlight its strong ties with the US.

As part of the agreements, Qatar signed a deal to buy 36 F-15 aircraft in a deal valued at $12 billion.

Qatar Investment Authority is working to identify possible acquisition targets with areas of interest including infrastructure and technology, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s report stated that Doha allocated about $50 billion for these deals and assigned $35 billion for various US short-term investments hoping that more deals could help improve ties with the US after President Donald Trump publicly sided with the Saudi alliance.

Meanwhile, military analysts considered Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid al-Attiyah’s latest statement a message for Iran and Houthis for future cooperation.

Earlier, Attiyah announced that Doha has found itself forced to join the Arab Coalition in Yemen, adding that Qatar was never inside Yemen, but rather on the Saudi border and at the beginning of the crisis as they were asked to leave the Saudi border and they did.

The analysts stated that the Minister’s statements indicate Qatar’s participation was not for the best interest of Gulf or its security, but rather a sort of courtesy. They pointed out that decisions of war can’t be forced on anyone and thus Attiyah’s announcement does not confirm with the concept of military interventions.

Chairman of the Kuwait-based Gulf Forum for Peace and Security Fahd al-Shelaimi said that Qatar’s participation in Yemen comes as being part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and committing to its charter.

Shelaimi added that Qatari officials claim they were under pressures, but he stated that it is shameful for top officials to make allegations. He explained when someone as Attiyah, who is a former Foreign Minister, announces his country was obliged to participate in the Yemeni war, he is certainly sending a message to Houthis and other parties justifying their future collaboration with them.

The Chairman also pointed out that the Qatari statement shows Doha’s decision to join the coalition wasn’t calculated. He added that decisions are not made out of courtesy, especially those of war.

Shelaimi believed this is Qatar’s attempt to reopen channels with Iran and Houthis. He added that within the coming days, further collaboration will manifest on al-Jazeera channel showing support to Houthis.

A Gulf military analyst wondered why Qatar claimed it was forced into the coalition given that it was formed based on approval of all participating countries and belief that security and stability of the Gulf should be maintained in face of Iran’s expansion.

The analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declared that such statements at such a time is a source of concern for the Yemeni National Army and Arab Coalition Forces.

Egypt Accuses Qatar of ‘Violating all Accords’

Jeddah, Ankara, Cairo- Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri said on Tuesday that his country would not forgive or deal with countries supporting and financing terrorism, adding that Qatar has violated all international laws and accords.

During his meeting with Jean Paul Laborde, Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), Shokri said that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain insist that Doha sticks to the Quartet’s demands as a condition for resuming frozen relations.

“The Arab demands were issued based on Qatar’s violations of the international laws and accords by interfering in the Arab countries’ domestic affairs, and sheltering terrorist leaders and members,” spokesperson of the foreign ministry, Ahmad Abu Zeid said in a press statement Tuesday.

Last month, the Arab Quartet cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and building closer ties with Iran.

Abu Zeid said Shokri reiterated Egypt’s comprehensive strategy to fight terrorism in all its types, based on UN Security Council resolutions and strategies.

The Egyptian minister also highlighted the importance of “standing in one line against the countries that provide aid for the terrorists, who claim the lives of innocent (people) every day.”

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Sunday as part of a Gulf tour, his office announced on Tuesday.

A high-ranking Turkish official told Asharq Al-Awsat that talks between Erdogan and Saudi officials would be topped by the Qatari crisis and means to solve the stalled relations.

“Of course, officials from both sides will also tackle bilateral relations and means to enhance them,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

Erdogan’s visit comes following a marathon of western diplomatic visits, including the US, French, British and German foreign ministers, in an attempt to contain the tension and bring the viewpoints between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet closer.

Saudi FM: We Will Provide France with Comprehensive Dossier of Qatar’s Violations

Saudi

Jeddah – Any resolution of the Gulf crisis should come from within the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, stressed Saudi Arabia and France, adding that everyone should be fully committed against terrorism, those who support and fund it, and spread extremist ideologies.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stressed that Riyadh has basic principles for relations that must be committed to by all countries, including Qatar.

“The first is not supporting or financing terrorism. The second is to refrain from supporting extremism, inciting and spreading hatred through the media in any form. Also, countries must abstain from hosting terrorist people, those involved in terrorist financing or those wanted by their countries. And finally, refrain from interfering in the affairs of regional countries,” stated the FM.

Speaking during a joint press conference in Jeddah with French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would present Paris with a comprehensive dossier of the negative acts committed by Qatar over the years, adding that a similar file was given to US State of Secretary Rex Tillerson.

Le Drian arrived at Saudi Arabia as part of his Gulf tour aimed at helping defuse the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Jubeir expressed the Kingdom’s appreciation for the French position throughout history regarding region’s issues, whether the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Yemen crisis, cooperation regarding Syria and Iraq and other issues.

The two officials also tackled the current situation in the region, developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the situation in Syria and Iraq.

Jubeir praised the efforts exerted by Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to purge the city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists.

“We expressed our support for these efforts and our hope that Iraq can eliminate the entire ISIS terrorist organization from Iraq,” he stated.

On the Qatar crisis, he said that Riyadh hopes it could still be resolved “within the Gulf house”.

Le Drian echoed this stance, reiterating Paris’s support for the Kuwaiti mediation.

He expressed his country’s concern by the sudden deterioration in relations between Qatar and many of its neighbors.

“France does not want to substitute the mediator… It wants to be a facilitator by joining efforts of other countries,” he stressed, adding that Tillerson’s initiative is also “suitable”.

Furthermore, Le Drian hailed Saudi Arabia’s role in halting terrorism and extremist ideology, hoping that the kingdom will implement Vision 2030.

The French FM met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and decided to re-launch cooperation through the joint French-Saudi Cooperation Committee.

He added that “in this regard, we decided before the end of 2017 to hold a meeting of the Joint Bilateral Committee,” pointing out that this committee was previously formed but not active.

Le Drian said that the two countries want to review within this committee the various programs and the outcome of the findings of the topics, including fields of defense, energy, culture, infrastructure and education. Annual meetings will also be held once in Paris and once in Riyadh.

Earlier on Saturday, Le Drian arrived at Qatar where he met with Qatari Emir Tamim Al Thani and stated that Paris wants to assist the Kuwait-led mediation on the crisis between Qatar and four other Arab states.

“France should be a facilitator in the mediation” led by Kuwait, Le Drian told reporters after talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

He added that France is talking to all of these countries to help search for a solution, calling for “dialogue and calm” between the Arab states concerned.

After Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Le Drian will to Kuwait and the UAE.

917 Human Rights Violations by Houthi, Saleh in Yemen in June

Yemen

Riyadh – Houthi and Saleh militias violated human rights 971 times during June where they killed 180 civilians, injured 205 and assaulted 28 others, according to Yemeni Alliance to Monitor Human Rights Violations.

Rassd News Network added that the violations, including 236 abductions, 33 forcible missing, eight tortures, ten children military recruitment, out of them five in Zamar province, three in Amran and two in al-Hodaida.

According to the report, as many as 217 incidents were committed against private properties in 15 provinces, including 148 buildings, most of them in Taiz.

Human rights activist and human rights officer of the Monitoring and Documentation Unit of the Yemeni Coalition to monitor violations Riad al-Dba’i stated that Houthis recruited children in their camps and checkpoints whether to provide services or help in non-military matters. He also added that children are assigned to inspecting cars and people which put them in danger of being bombed.

The activist explained that recruiting children can send several psychological messages. It can implicate that the children are heroes for participating, and thus they become accustomed to killing and thus violence becomes a natural part of their daily life. In addition, it also sends social messages that the kid is a criminal who is capable of killing an adult.

Dba’i called upon Houthis to honor their agreements and release all recruited children, close training centers and take responsibility of their actions.

US Treasury Lifts Ban on Yemeni Government Accounts

Riyadh– The US Treasury Department officially announced on Thursday its decision to lift a ban on the Yemeni government’s financial accounts, following the success of the Yemeni Central Bank in launching the international Swift system.

Other countries are also expected to lift the ban on the accounts of Yemen’s legitimate government, according to Ghamdan al-Sharif, the press secretary of the Yemeni prime minister.

Sharif told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that when the Houthis and supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh took control over state institutions and stole the financial reserves, the Yemeni government asked international banks to stop dealing with the central bank in Sana’a and wait until a Swift system is established in the central bank in Aden.

He added that Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr launched on Thursday the Swift system at the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) in Aden following an inspection of the bank’s facilities and the mechanisms of operation.

Sharif also said that the new measures would promote the country’s economy and increase commercial exchange between Yemen and other countries, which had stopped due to difficulties in performing financial transactions.

The prime minister announced that his government has received an official notice from the US Treasury on lifting the ban on its accounts.

During a meeting with the central bank governor on Thursday, Bin Daghr said Yemen would seek the lifting of the ban on its accounts in other countries, stressing the “courageous decision” of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to transfer the central bank to Aden.