Houthis Exclude Saleh by Monopolizing Coup Council

Houthi militants ride on the back of a patrol truck as they attend a tribal gathering held to show support to the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen

Riyadh – As Houthi rebels refused to hand over the leadership of the political council to the General People’s Congress, which is headed by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, questions were raised over the escalating dispute between Yemen’s two insurgent groups.

An agreement reached between the Houthis and Saleh supporters in July 2016 stipulated that Houthis and the General People’s Congress should assume the presidency of the so-called political council by rotation.

However, during an extraordinary meeting held in Sanaa on Tuesday, Houthi rebels have agreed to extend the term of the current president and their own representative, Saleh al-Sammad, whose term was supposed to end in December 2016.

In this regard, the insurgents led news agency, Saba, reported that the members of the political council have unanimously agreed, during their extraordinary meeting, to extend the current president’s term for two consecutive terms of four months each.

The members justified their decision by claiming that it reflected “satisfaction with the performance of the current presidency in light of the complexities of the situation.”

Based on the former agreement between the insurgency allies, the current presidency should be handed over to the General People’s Congress and its allies.

Yemeni political writer Hamdan al-Alyi said that these measures represented an intentional concession by Saleh and his allies in order to further implicate the Houthis in the coming days.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Alyi said: “This measure (and the concession) in favor of the Houthis is aimed at involving them more (in the state administration) because Saleh and the General People’s Congress do not want to assume the responsibility of the state administration in such a situation.”

“The Congress and Saleh know very well that if they assume power, the first issue they will have to face is the employees’ salaries – an issue that is difficult to deal with at this stage,” he added.

Series of Economic Procedures Await Doha

Cars drive past the building of Qatar Central Bank in Doha

Riyadh- Economist Hussein Shobokshi said that the Qatari economy is expected to face a new series of tough procedures to be taken by the boycotting countries: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt after the 10-day period given to the Qatari government to meet the demands ends.

He expected the coming procedures to include withdrawing deposits from central and commercial banks of boycotting countries and revoking licenses of Qatari bank branches in these countries in addition to halting activities pertinent to retail, telecommunications, and real-estate investment.

Shobokshi described the new procedures as a terrifying tsunami for the Qatari economy, pointing out that they will not be restricted to the region but will extend to the foreign Qatari investments in European countries and the US.

He added that the second batch of procedures is represented in a complete cut of economic ties with Qatar.

“There are still some remains of the ties such as the banking deposits of Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini central and commercial banks in Qatari banks that will be revoked. Also, dealing with Qatari banks of branches in these countries will be terminated and their licenses will be annulled in addition to activities related to retail, telecommunications, and real-estate investment,” he said.

“Any Qatari funds, direct or indirect, public or private are not welcome in these countries,” this is how Shobokshi summarized the upcoming tougher procedures.

He added that despite the Qatari economic theoretical capability to withstand the procedures taken, in fact, thisc capability will be limited.

Yemen: $500 Million Credit Facilities to Import Food, Medicines

Riyadh- The Yemeni government in cooperation with regional and international partners has allocated half a billion dollars as a guarantee of credit and trade facilities so that the Yemeni private sector imports food and medicine and overcomes logistic difficulties caused by Saleh and Houthi militias.

Yemeni Industry and Trade Minister Mohamed al-Maitami told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Yemeni government’s discussions with international and regional parties have resulted in trade facilities worth $500 million.

“As you know, there is a shortage in food and medicine caused by this cursed war and it will aggravate without any imports. The financial working group of MENA has classified Yemen as dangerous due to the war and it has become difficult for Yemeni businessmen and banking institutions to continue their dealings with the world banking network, transferring funds or acquiring banking guarantees,” said Maitami.

He added that during discussions with regional and international partners, an agreement was reached to allocate half a billion dollars as a guarantee for trade facilities.

“Three types of economies are emerging: the economy of war and confrontation, the black market and the economy of survival. We want to distance the private sector from any of them,” Maitami added.

He continued that the private sector is urged to distance the community from from the ongoing political conflict. According to the minister, this requires an agreement on principles that any businessman who gets these facilities and violates the deal, would be defamed by the private sector and regional and international partners.

Discussions to Freeze Qatar’s Membership in GCC, Arab League

An aerial view shows the diplomatic area of Doha, Qatar.

Riyadh- Discussions may lead to freezing Qatar’s membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League if it continues with its supporting terrorism and harming the interests of the Gulf and Arab countries, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Sources did not rule out the suspension of Qatar’s membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as another expected step in response to the country’s actions and non-commitment to the outcome of the Riyadh summit in which 55 Islamic countries participated with the United States.

The summit’s most significant outcome was agreeing to fight the financing of terrorism and extremism. The sources did not give any further details regarding when these steps would be implemented.

For his part, Saudi Military and Strategic Analyst Col Ibrahim al-Marie said that Qatar has to take concrete steps before embarking any new reconciliation. Qatar is demanded to put Muslim Brotherhood on its terrorist list and force all the leaders of this organization to leave Qatar.

“Qatar must stop sponsoring terrorist organizations and hosting the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, and it should agree with the Gulf states on listing it as a terrorist group and ordering its members to leave its lands,” Marie said.

The reconciliation process will start when “Qatar stops financing and supporting the terrorist organizations, Saudi extremist opposition, and terrorist figures in London,” Marie added.

He explained that Qatar pays for offices and residences of terrorist organizations and pays salaries to their members. It also threatens Egypt’s security in Sinai and supports extremist organizations in Libya. All these facts have become clear for the international community, he added.

“The international community has been harmed by Qatar’s policies, and it should simply change them and stop its acts.”

On the other hand, sources said that Saudi Foreign Ministry met on Tuesday with a number of Asian Ambassadors in Riyadh to explain the reason of the recent conflicts with Qatar and the Qatari practices that are risking the national security of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Arab states.

Saleh Defends Iran’s Interference in Iraq and Syria

Riyadh-Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has defended Iran’s intervention in Iraq and Syria, saying it aims at combating terrorism.

In his statements to pro-General People’s Congress journalists, Saleh, who heads the party, expressed his support to Iran’s meddling in Arab states.

In his remarks, which were published on his Facebook page, Saleh also expressed his support to the Lebanese “Hezbollah,” saying “Shi’ites in South Lebanon are opposing Israel, under the leadership of Hassan Nasrallah.”

“So, why put them on the terrorist list?” he asked.

Meanwhile, a report has been published by the “War on the Rocks” website on the rising death of members from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and “Hezbollah” in Yemen.

The website, which specializes in analyzing foreign and security policies, began its report by refering to a failed incursion into the Saudi border by an officer from the Revolutionary Guards in Yemen in March 2016.

The report said that he took advantage of a massive dust storm that blocked the sky in southwest Saudi Arabia, reduced ground visibility to less than a meter and obscured satellite coverage, leading the government to close schools.

“Against the Madar’s cloaking headwinds, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer, whose nom de guerre is ‘Abu Ali,’ led a 52-man Houthi armored assault convoy armed with Katyusha missile launchers out of the northern Yemeni governorate of Saada, and into Saudi Arabia’s Asir border province. Their aim was to conduct a series of early morning raids,” the report said.

“Using their missiles for suppressive fire, the Houthi militias attacked the Saudi border village of Dharan al-Janub before veering south to seize the Saudi al-Alab border station.”

According to the report, Riyadh reacted quickly with Saudi aircraft killing the IRGC officer along with 40 Houthis and injuring 12 others. Their vehicles and missile launchers were also destroyed.

The writer of the report said that the slain IRGC commander was known for leading prior Houthi raids against Saudi Arabia and providing training and operational supervision for the “Hussein Brigades,” an elite Houthi ground unit in northern and central Yemen.

The report also said that 44 IRGC and “Hezbollah” operatives have been killed or captured in Yemen’s civil war, based upon an analysis of Yemeni and Gulf Arab news reports on killed, captured, and wounded advisers in Yemen over the last two years.

Yemeni Deputy PM Denies Omani Mediation on Resumption of Talks

Riyadh– Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi has denied that there has been a mediation by Oman to resume intra-Yemen peace talks.

The minister explained to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that his visit to Muscat, Oman is within the framework of the bilateral relations of the two neighboring countries and has nothing to do with the direct negotiations.

He confirmed that he didn’t meet with any members of the insurgency and reiterated the government’s support to the UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Mekhlafi said the government believes that cooperation with the UN is the best means to achieve peace based on the three references.

On Tuesday, Reuters quoted a Yemeni government official as saying that Oman is mediating between Yemeni President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government and its Houthi opponents over a UN plan to resume peace talks in the war-torn country.

Mekhlafi denied all rumors about the resumption of talks and reported that the meeting in Oman was positive.

The FM stated that the Houthi insurgents are not serious about achieving peace and are unaware of the sufferings of the Yemenis.

“Insurgents refused to work with the UN envoy and tried to open fire at him upon his arrival in Sana’a. They didn’t meet with him nor did they discuss his suggestions. I don’t think they are serious about achieving peace in any way,” Mekhlafi stated.

He explained that the government, national army and resistance are fighting Houthis that will eventually be forced to accept peace. He insisted that the Yemeni government will continue to welcome peace in the country and cooperate with the UN envoy.

Mekhlafi wants the world to understand that, unlike the insurgents, the Yemeni government seeks peace but will not surrender or welcome the Iran-linked insurgency militias in the country.

When asked about Hodeidah Port and a third neutral party managing it, Mekhlafi said the UN envoy had many ideas, but insurgents wouldn’t even meet with him because they are irresponsible and did not commit to the ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan.

Mekhlafi explained that so far there aren’t any positive indications that insurgents are willing to withdraw from the port or take any serious action. However, he did explain that if they retreated from the port and ensured revenues are reinstated to the Central Bank, then it means they have taken a positive step towards resuming the negotiations based on the three references.

The FM reiterated the Yemeni government’s right to liberate all Yemeni territories, but insisted that if the insurgents continued to adopt the same methods, then the government had no other choice but to continue freeing all governorates.

Concerning media reports stating that insurgents stole medical supplies for cholera treatment, Mekhlafi said the militias have numerous crimes and the main disaster is that Houthis destroyed the country and impoverished the people.

By stealing medications, the Houthis become the main reason behind the people’s prolonged suffering, he added.

Yemeni Minister: $88 Billion in Possible Resources to Rebuild the Country

Riyadh– Yemeni Industry and Trade Minister Mohamed al-Maitami said that the public sector was a major part in Yemen’s recovery and reconstruction program, noting that possible resources of a value of $88 billion have been dedicated to this sector to assume a key role in the implementation of rebuilding projects.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Maitami said that the national reconstruction and recovery detailed plan, which was discussed in the Saudi capital Riyadh earlier in May in the presence of international organizations and donor countries, has highlighted possible resources worth around $88 billion and has set Yemen’s private sector as the executive body to implement the program.

“What is most important about this plan is that the private sector will have a central role in the execution of projects,” he stated.

“The private sector is the only economic and social institution that can rebuild the country and promote its flourishing and prosperity,” he added.

Maitami, who has met earlier this week with a number of Yemeni businessmen in Jeddah, said that he had presented plans to gather resources and capabilities of the Yemeni private sector, in addition to support from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to implement the recovery program.

He noted that the plan, which is adopted by the Yemeni government represented by the ministry of industry and trade, would be divided into several phases, beginning with an urgent phase that would tackle poverty and food insecurity across the country.

The Yemeni minister said he hoped the private sector would actively contribute to the reconstruction efforts, stressing in this regard that the Yemeni government and regional and international partners understand well the concerns of the sector and its need to have security guarantees for their investments.

Gulf-US Cooperation to Counter Terrorism Financing

Trump looks on as Tillerson and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef exchange a memorandum of understanding at the Gulf Cooperation Council leaders summit in Riyadh

Riyadh – A center established by the GCC and the United States to combat terrorism financing would target three main goals, including exchanging information on terrorist financial networks, coordinating joint counter-terrorism measures and providing support to the region’s countries for building capacities in fighting terrorism financing.

The United States and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) signed on Sunday a memorandum to create a center to combat the financing of terrorism, on the sidelines of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh.

The center’s objectives include identifying, tracking and sharing information about terrorist financing networks, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “This new Terrorist Financing Targeting Center will enhance existing tools and cooperation with partners in the Gulf to forcefully address evolving threats.”

“The Treasury will offer the vast expertise of our Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to this creative new effort,” he added.

According to the memorandum, the center will be established by the Saudi interior ministry and the US Treasury department and will focus on the means to cut funding for terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hezbollah, among other groups.

The center will benefit from experiences and expertise of participants to target terrorist financing networks and will seek to identify regional partners and build countries’ capacities to counter the financing of terrorism.

The US described the establishment of the center as a bold and historic effort to expand and promote cooperation on fighting terrorism and encourage countries to take further steps in this regard, based on the principle of mutual interests.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the MoU at King Abdulaziz International Conference Center in the presence of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, US President Trump and the leaders and heads of delegations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for Arab Countries.

Saudi Minister of Energy: The Kingdom is the Best Choice for Investors


Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s latest efforts whether with US or during King Salman’s visit to Asia all aim to establish a strong economy unaffected by oil prices, according to Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Engineer Khalid al-Falih.

Falih said the deals will have a positive impact both on the economy and the people of the Kingdom, as hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created for the Saudi youth. He pointed out that the Kingdom made important steps regarding generating power and oil, adding that renewable resources like solar and wind energy will be an essential part of Saudi’s energy system.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Gulf-US and the Arab-Islamic-US Summits, the minister said that the National Transformation Program and Vision 2030 both include important aspects of enhancing the energy sector of all of its sides.

Earlier, Aramco signed at least 10 agreements with 10 companies of $22 billion value. The company also announced a new Saudi company that manages the projects.

Speaking on the oil sector, the minister said the Kingdom believes that extending the oil-cut agreement is enough to drain oil inventories.

“Extending the current agreement on global oil supply cuts until March next year, and adding one or two small producers to the pact, should be enough to reduce oil inventories,” he said.

“We believe that continuing the same level of cuts, plus eventually adding one or two small producers, will be more than adequate to bring the five-year balance to where it needs to be by the end of the first quarter of 2018,” he emphasized.

The minister welcomed the Russian position on the call for a reduction in production for another nine months. He pointed out that the suspension of oil dealing with Iran is due to the sanctions imposed since last October.

He said that the kingdom produces about 10 million barrels of crude oil per day, pointing to the improvement in the kingdom’s financial index.

According to the minister, investors have no better choice than investing in the Saudi market.

Falih dealt with the friendship between the Kingdom and the US which extends for eight decades. The friendship between the two countries contributes in achieving prosperity for the international community in general and the two countries in particular.

The minister disclosed that the relationship in the fields of trade and investment between the Kingdom and the US is a part of the close friendship between the two countries, pointing out that there are many great opportunities to move the relationship between the two countries to higher levels.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Vice President of Women’s Affairs at the General Sports Authority, said that Vision 2030 granted women a greater role, and there should be impartiality when discussing gender equality. She expressed her pleasure that President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and assured that opportunities in Vision 2030 are real.

Islamic Leaders, Trump Inaugurate Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology


Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and US President Donald Trump inaugurated in Riyadh on Sunday the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (EATEDAL ) along with the leaders and representatives of 55 Arab and Islamic countries.

EATEDAL seeks to become a global authority on combatting extremist ideology and a beacon for disseminating moderation.

The inauguration took place after the Arab-Islamic-US summit that was held in Riyadh also on Sunday.

King Salman stressed at the opening that terrorism is the product of terrorism and that the decision to establish EATEDAL stemmed from the need to confront it.

The center will help fortify families and communities and protect them against the lure to join terrorism. This will take place in cooperation with peace-loving countries and international organizations, he added.

He stated: “As part of our ongoing war against terrorism, we stress our determination to destroy ISIS and other terrorist groups regardless of their religion, sect or ideology. This is what prompted us to establish the Islamic Military Coalition to Combat Terrorism, in a pioneering step to counter terror.”

For his part, Trump hailed the inauguration of EATEDAL, deeming it an important step in the confrontation against terrorism and terrorist groups around the world.

He noted that more than 90 percent of terror victims come from the Islamic world, adding that there is a responsibility on these people to expel and shun the extremists in order for them to live in peace.

EATEDAL will combat terrorism on the ideological, media and digital levels.

On the ideological level, the center will seek to spread moderation. The media aspect seeks to devise a media strategy and offer material that calls for peaceful coexistence. Extremist ideology will meanwhile be monitored on the digital level.

The media and digital monitoring will take place around the clock. The gathered information will be analyzed in order to determine the reason for such extremism. It will be countered with moderate ideology and the production of media material that calls for tolerance.

Secretary General of EATEDAL, Dr. Nasser al-Baqmi described the center as a “decisive” step that is based on the world’s firm will to stand against terrorism.

The center enjoys “unprecedented” technical capabilities in combating extremist ideology and its activities over the internet and social media. It will develop high quality programs that are capable of monitoring and analyzing extremist content with high accuracy, he revealed.

The center’s technical capabilities can operate in all languages and dialects that are commonly used in extremist ideology. Two advanced demos are being developed. They will be able to pinpoint the geographic locations that are harboring terror and extremist ideology, said Baqmi.

The demos will help determine the digital platforms and shed light on extremist hubs and secret sources of recruitment.

Saudi Arabia set up EATEDAL within 30 days only through the exceptional efforts of more than 350 qualified Saudi youths.

It is a product of international cooperation to confront extremist ideology that leads to terrorism, which the common enemy of the world. EATEDAL was established with the help of many countries and includes a number of international experts in countering extremist media rhetoric.