British Diplomat: London Concerned about Flow of Iranian Arms into Yemen


Riyadh – British Ambassador to Yemen Simon Shercliff stressed his country’s support to Saudi Arabia’s right to defend its land and people from regional threats.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Shercliff raised concerns over reports on Iranian arms smuggling operations across the Yemeni borders located along the Red Sea.

While the ambassador said that Saudi Arabia had the full right to defend its people and territories from any lurking threats, he expressed serious worries over the continuous flow of Iranian arms into Yemen, in a blatant violation to UN Security Council Resolution 2216.

“The future of Yemen depends on a sustainable political solution, and we ask Iran to support such solution,” he said.

Shercliff, who recently met with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said that the roadmap outlined by UN Special Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed has converged with the outcome of Kuwait talks on Yemen and the plan proposed by former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Shercliff noted in this regard that the roadmap stressed the need for the Houthi insurgents to offer military compromises in return for political compromises by the legitimate government.

Asked about British efforts to resolve Yemen’s crisis, the official said: “Britain, in its capacity of member in the Security Council, has participated in two rounds of talks on Yemen in New York.”

“Next Wednesday, International Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed would present a new update on the situation in Yemen to the Security Council,” he added.

Shercliff said that the five-sided group on Yemen was reviewing a mechanism to support efforts deployed by the international envoy to find a political solution to end the Yemeni war.

He stressed the importance of a “greater role”, which could be assumed by Yemen’s neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman, in achieving a sustainable solution to the crisis.

The British ambassador stated that the Kingdom and Yemen share important “historic and geographic ties”, adding that relations between the two countries should be based on mutual respect.

While he pointed out to the severely deteriorating situation in the Arab country, Shercliff called for the urgent need to allow the access of humanitarian assistance to the war-stricken residents.

“We are currently mobilizing voices to support UN efforts in this regard, and we have backed a UN mechanism to inspect ships coming to Yemen in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” the ambassador said.

UNICEF: Over 350,000 Yemeni Children Unable to Continue Their Education

Girls stand at the entrance to their tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

Riyadh – After two years of war in Yemen, children continue to pay the heaviest price for the foolishness of Houthis and Saleh. Children are being robbed of their childhood as they come under attack day and night, and their future hanging in the balance now that several of them are injured, recruited, displaced, and deprived of education and health care.

Education in Yemen is severely affected as a result of the violence with up to 1,600 schools no longer being used because they were destroyed, damaged and are being used to host displaced families or occupied by the warring parties. Some 350,000 children are unable to continue their learning as a result, bringing to 2 million the total number of children out of school.

Communication Officer of UNICEF Yemen Mohammad al-Assadi told Asharq Al-awsat that the report focused on the family institution threatened by war during the difficult times the country has been going through.

Assadi said that sadly the more it takes to reach a solution, the higher the cost of the war becomes. He added that the war is affecting everyone including women, children and the elderly.

UNICEF released a report as the war in the Middle East’s poorest country enters its third year.

The report “Falling through the Cracks” stated that the number of children killed in Yemen’s conflict increased by 70 per cent, and nearly twice as many children were injured and recruited into the fighting since March 2016 compared to the same period last year.

It noted that in the past year alone the number of children killed increased from 900 to more than 1,500 and the number of children injured nearly doubled from 1,300 to 2,450.

In addition, the number of children recruited in the fighting neared 1,580, up from 850 this time last year.

UNICEF also said that attacks on schools more than quadrupled, from 50 to 212 and attacks on hospitals and health facilities increased by one third, from 63 to 95.

UNICEF Representative in Yemen Meritxell Relano stated that the war in Yemen continues to claim children’s lives and their future.

Relano insisted that: “Relentless fighting and destruction has scarred children for life. Families have been left destitute and are struggling to cope.”

Working with partners, UNICEF continues to provide urgent life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable children, including vaccinations, therapeutic food, treatment for severe malnutrition, education support, psychosocial counselling and cash assistance, according to Relano.

UNICEF called for an immediate political solution to the war in Yemen and urged parties to work to reach a negotiated solution, prioritizing and upholding the rights of children.

“The conflict must come to an immediate end if we are to spare an entire generation of children from starvation, trauma and destitution,” reiterated the organization.

The report insisted that children must be protected at all times, adding that: “The killing and maiming of children must stop.”

UNICEF called for an immediate and “massive scale-up of the multi-sectoral” response to combat malnutrition among children and pregnant and lactating women.

The report said that humanitarian access throughout Yemen must be improved to reach the most vulnerable.

The organizations also said that it is crucial to strengthen family coping mechanisms by supporting the provision of free and quality basic services and the provision of cash assistance at scale.

More funding is needed to prevent critical and basic services like health and education from total collapse, and assistance through cash transfers to families should be expanded to prevent families from having to resorting to negative coping mechanisms like early marriage, child labor and child recruitment.

“We need to act now to pull families back from the brink. The risks for generations to come are extremely high,” pressed Relaño.

Coping mechanisms have been severely eroded by the violence, which has turned Yemen into one of the largest food security and malnutrition emergencies in the world. Families are eating much less, opting for less nutritious food or skipping meals. Close to half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a 200 per cent increase since 2014, raising the risk of famine.

The number of extremely poor and vulnerable people is increasing with around 80 per cent of families in debt and half the population lives on less than $2 a day, according to the report.

As family resources diminish, more and more children are being recruited by warring parties and pushed into early marriage. Over two thirds of girls are married off before they reach 18, compared to 50 per cent before the conflict escalated.

Yemen’s health system is on the verge of collapse, leaving close to 15 million men, women and children with no access to health care. An outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhea in October 2016 continues to spread, with over 22,500 suspected cases and 106 deaths.

Yemeni President: Houthis Won’t Succeed in Imposing Iranian Experiment in Yemen

Yemeni soldiers stand guard outside the cabinet headquarters in Sanaa - (AfP)

Riyadh – Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi confirmed that Houthi and Saleh militias can’t impose the Iranian experiment on Yemenis, adding that the whole world is with the legitimate government.

During his speech at a graduation ceremony of a batch of members of the resistance, Hadi said the government has a plan to enroll all members of popular resistance in training camps who will then become the new Yemeni army.

“We do not want war. We want peace. Houthis can’t force us the Iranian trial,” he told the graduates.

The president thanked the graduates for their efforts and wished them success. He addressed them: “You were able to defend your country and religion. I tell you: the whole world is supporting you; Islamic and Arab nations are beside you. We have a plane to include members of the resistance in training sessions to form the new army.”

Activist Refaat al-Zamky said that the failure of Iran’s experiment in Yemen is inevitable because Yemen can withstand no Persian or foreign projects aiming to change its social fabric.

Zamky, who is also the sec-gen of the Geneva-based Consultation Center for Rights and Freedoms, said that Houthis’ Iranian ideology is rejected in their stronghold city, Saada.

He added that on the humanitarian level, it is difficult and rather impossible to impose Iran’s ideas on Yemen because of certain practices that are rejected by the Yemeni society. He added that executions, suppression of freedoms, violation of human rights and torture are not accepted in Yemen.

Saudi-led coalition, and in cooperation with the legitimate government, is training thousands of soldiers of the new Yemeni army in addition to pilots on different combat methods at the Anad Airbase.

Coalition forces deployed troops of elite forces to train soldiers of the new army, as well as deploying a fleet of apaches and light combat helicopters.

Recently, an intensive training program was launched to form a new Yemeni air force in Anad. Yemeni pilots had previously launched several attacks on Taiz and al-Baydaa governorates to back the legitimate forces and the resistance.

Legitimate government led by Hadi thanked the Saudi-led coalition for the support and the training with best and most developed weapons and equipment.

Yemeni Defense Ministry spokesman Ali al-Bakali said that the army training would be done on three stages: field training in Yemen, advanced technical training in one of the Gulf countries, and military leaders’ training in countries of the coalition.

Bakali pointed out that new army’s first mission would be to ensure security and stability in all the governorates that have been liberated.

Boeing President: 2016, Second Safest Year in Aviation History


Riyadh – Boeing President Marc Allen underscored the shared confidence between Boeing and Saudi Arabia, noting that the kingdom has the latest defense techniques in the aviation field.

According to Allen, the toughest challenge in this field is the continuous development of techniques, in addition to the enormous amount of data. He noted that the companies that will be successful after 40 years are the ones that will manage to deal with this data and benefit from it in development and innovation.

He also expected space industry to be the upcoming field of competition, revealing that huge attention is paid to this industry. To Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “We see that during the coming 25 years the chances of space commerce will be close to reality.”

“What about your cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Boeing vision in achieving Saudi Vision 2030?” asked the newspaper.

The Boeing president replied: “Innovation in products, services and operations is a backbone of Boeing and throughout the past decades Boeing has made a radical change in the field of commerce travel in Saudi Arabia. As for Saudi Vision 2030, we have huge opportunities and we are cooperating with the kingdom through several initiatives that will provide job opportunities and contribute in transforming the existing techniques and the space industry infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.”

The newspaper asked: “With the increase of aviation accidents, do you think that this has an influence on the use of airplanes as a means of safe transportation?”

He answered: “It would be beneficial to mention that 2016 was the second safest year in the history of aviation, regardless that airplanes are the safest way for travel. We, in Boeing, place safety as a priority.”

“How did the companies deal with the drop in oil prices and its influence on cancelling some deals by the buyers?” asked Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The drop in oil prices has existed for two years and its influence varies between the negative and positive. The situation is currently stable and in case of any rise in prices then the companies tend to purchase airplanes that consume less fuel. Also, the mounting demand on airplanes depends on the increase of travelers and this helps in covering the cost of operational expenses,” Allen answered.

When asked about the outcome of the Boeing program to support the Arab youth in the Middle East, he replied: “I mentioned in the beginning that Boeing in Saudi Arabia is committed to achieving the Saudi national goals through providing jobs for Saudi youths and we are determined to continue along this path.”

The newspaper asked: “Marc, you are in your forties and you are the president of Boeing. This represents an inspiration to the youth. What can you tell them about your story?”

Allen said: “What I can say to any ambitious youth is that he should know his goals in life. He should have a specific goal and, most importantly, he should be comfortable in the way he will achieve it. You should be yourself and avoid imitating others. This is the first step in being a leader.”

Yemeni Crisis to Be Solved within Weeks- UN

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. UN

Riyadh-Special UN Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed stressed his belief that a real solution for the Yemeni crisis would be found within the coming few weeks based on real and sustainable foundations.

“We know today that a solution is close. We know that a solution in Yemen will be built on military and political basis so it’s a bit shameful that opposing parties don’t want to sit down at the table to discuss that,” Ahmed said in an interview with France 24 channel.

Ahmed expressed doubts regarding Houthi and Saleh’s seriousness in implementing the political solution given their refusal to talk about withdrawing from the cities and handing over heavy weapons.

He said: “Houthis and Saleh should admit that there isn’t going to be a solution as long as there is an external authority or militias controlling the security situation in the country. They should withdraw and hand over their weapons.”

Despite the fact that Houthis admitted they have been receiving support from Iran, Ould Cheikh confirmed that Iranian authorities denied it and said they were not playing any role in the Yemeni war.

“No solution can be achieved without taking into consideration the presence of President Hadi,” the UN Envoy told France 24.

He further explained that Houthi and Saleh militias approved the political roadmap without discussing the security aspect of it. They are still reluctant to engage in serious work on this issue, he added.

Yemeni Government Ensures the Safety of the Judicial Body


Riyadh – Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghar announced that the government had taken all necessary measure to ensure the safety and security of judges and courts in all liberated areas.

The PM said that the government is willing to remove all obstacles facing judges to guarantee they can perform their duties in safe and natural atmosphere.

Bin Dagher held a meeting with chairman of Higher Judicial Council Ali Nasser Salem, during which the two discussed the mechanism for all courts and general directorates to be put back in action in all liberated governorates. The PM stressed that it is crucial to receive and quickly execute the cases of all citizens.

Bin Dagher reiterated the importance that judges must have the integrity to resolve the issues of citizens fairly and impartially to reinstate civilians’ trust in the Yemeni law.

Chairman Salem presented the premier with the report on the work of the courts and public prosecution in Aden and other governorates. He also reviewed the impediments hindering the work of judges.

Criminal law professor Fahid Habtour said that the reactivation of the work of courts and public prosecution is a positive step towards the right direction in normalizing the life of the citizens.

Habtour told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that attaining a safe environment for the judges to perform their duties will make it a lot easier and faster to solve cases and spread an atmosphere of security among citizens.

The professor at Aden University asked for the establishment of a Supreme Court in the temperate capital, Aden.

“Aden is the temperate capital and thus the authority must take responsibility like the transfer of the Yemeni Central Bank and the parliament,” he said.

He believes that it is within the capacities of the president to transfer the government and the parliament and establish a Supreme Court in Aden.

Habtour stressed that without a supreme court, the judicial system cannot do its role and many cases should be under the control of the Supreme Court.

Hadi’s Advisor: ‘Military Option Continues until Achieving Peace’

Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi sacks prime ministerReuters

Riyadh- Combat operations against the insurgents will not stop until they give up for peace and abide by international resolutions, especially the Security Council resolution 2116, a senior Yemeni official said.

Advisor to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi Abdulaziz al-Maflahi told Asharq Al-Awsat that a request to halt the fighting was proposed, yet it was not implemented in light of the intransigence of the Houthi militants and their rejection for all peaceful solutions.

“We have reached several agreements with them, but they turned against them all, Maflahi said.

Maflahi reiterated the legislative government’s vision, headed by President Hadi, which seeks peace by committing to principles and references.

“We are keen to end this war and bloodshed imposed on us by Houthi insurgents, and we respect efforts exerted by the international community and the Quartet committee, which is composed of the foreign ministers of the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that have international and regional influence.”

Hadi’s advisor noted that UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed proposed ideas of which some were already part of the three references and others were debatable.

Maflahi hoped the outcome of the meeting convened by the Quartet and Oman today would bring peace to Yemenis.

He said that the legitimate government is dealing positively with all the initiatives proposed and efforts exerted to achieve peace.

“All Yemenis should work based on the principles and references and abide by the international resolutions, and the two parties should compromise for the sake of the people and peace in the region, specifically the Arabian Peninsula,” Maflahi stated.

He confirmed that the issue of appointing a successor for President Hadi was not proposed during the talks held in the past few days.

When asked about the international pressure put on the international coalition and the legitimate government to open Sana’a International Airport, controlled by Houthi militias, Mahlafi said that these pressures should be exerted on the insurgents who violated the laws and constitution in Yemen.

Japanese Diplomat: Partnership with Saudi Arabia Exceeds the Economy Field


Riyadh – Riyadh will continue to be the main confidential provider of oil for Japan and one of the major importers of Japanese industrial products, said Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Norihiro Okuda.

“Discussions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz in his anticipated visit to Japan won’t be restricted to economic files but will also include security, cultural and entertainment aspects for the sake of achieving Saudi Vision 2030. Regional topics will also be tackled and points of view will be exchanged regarding Middle East regional topics including these of Yemen and Syria,” the ambassador told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Okuda mentioned both countries’ pursuit to reinforce bilateral relations in various fields.

Commenting on the last visit of Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Japan in September 2016, Okuda described it as a great opportunity for Saudi Arabia and Japan to cement bilateral relations. He added, “Japan hails the diverse initiatives to reform the Saudi economy and community. It also wishes to cooperate with the Kingdom to attain goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 and for this reason the Joint Saudi-Japanese Group for Vision 2030 was established.”

“We seek to reinforce cooperation in the military field as well,” said Okuda.

Saudi Arabia and Japan have jointly expanded economic cooperation since 1975 when the economic-technical cooperation agreement was signed. The ambassador revealed that the total foreign direct Japanese investment in the kingdom in 2010 reached around USD14.5 billion with Japan being the fourth biggest investing country in Saudi Arabia.

The ambassador pointed out that SoftBank announced in October 2016 that it will establish a joint fund with Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) to be named SoftBank Vision Fund with an amount of USD100 billion.

Yemen’s Insurgency Recruited 5,000 Children Last Year


Riyadh – Houthi and Saleh coup militias in Yemen recruited over 4,960 children, mostly in the northern governorates, according to a recent rights report.

The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Violations of Human Rights said in its second annual report that the country witnessed over 5,092 documented violation cases, including 4,882 arbitrary arrests and 210 cases of forcible disappearance.

The report pointed out that the cases have been dealt with directly by concerned teams, stressing that they do not represent the total number of actual violations against civilians, especially in areas ruled by militias. It added that many of the victims or their families do not report violations out of the fear of kidnap, arrest or revenge.

Sana’a had the highest number of violations at 693, while al-Baydaa district had 655, and Ebb was third with 539. Al-Hudayda had 506 cases of documented violations despite being a very poor district and under insurgents’ control.

The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Violations of Human Rights urged condemnation of the Houthi and Saleh militias for their crimes, demanding that they be brought to trial.

The Coalition also appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to protect human rights and force Houthi and Saleh militias to commit to rights’ protection and end arbitrary arrests and forcible disappearances. It urged the international community to intervene to address this issue and to put abductions and torture at the top of its agenda for political discussions.

Militias have been torturing civilians in violation of International Humanitarian Law, added the report, citing 813 incidents of torture in 20 provinces in Yemen.

The report also pointed out that 2,737 civilians have been killed, including 531 children and 203 women, of which 1,910 were killed during Houthi and Saleh insurgency attacks on residential areas, direct sniping, assassinations, torture and by mines.

During the forum at the UN headquarters in Geneva held on the sidelines of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, executive coordinator of the Coalition Mutahar al-Bziji said that they recorded 288 cases where civilians were killed by mines, including 60 children and 16 women. In addition, the Coalition recorded 137 cases where civilians died under torture, including 12 journalists.

Activist Hamdan Al-Ali also addressed the suffering of families of kidnapping victims in Yemen. He said most of those affected and most vulnerable are women, children and the elderly, who are facing health, physical and psychological problems.

Families’ suffering is compounded by the difficult economic situation in Yemen, where many children are forced to leave school in order to work and support their relatives, Ali stressed.

Houthis also threaten families with torture of their children if they contact international or civil organizations for help, he added.

Houthi Underwater Mines in Bab al-Mandeb Threaten International Navigation


Riyadh – US Office of Naval Intelligence warned merchant ships traveling between Yemen’s Bab al Mandeb Strait of aquatic mines, while the Yemeni army confirmed it will act quickly to clear the areas of the mines placed by Houthis forces to maintain, local, regional and international navigation.

A report issued by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) warned merchant ships from the dangers of mines that were set by Houthis and militias allied to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Bab al-Mandeb near the Mokha port entrance.

ONI stated that the attacks on ships in the strait, especially commercial ones, will trigger the involvement of other parties, pointing out that the US Navy will employ all needed efforts to protect the freedom of ships.

Lieutenant Mohsen Khasroof said that these mines are threatening navigation and locals all over the west coast who rely on fishing for their livelihood.

He explained that this is a great responsibility for the Yemeni National Army and coalition forces to clear the area. He pointed out that the army needs a lot of technical help and devices to uncover the aquatic mines.

Khasrouf believes that the insurgents mined the area fearing the coalition might execute an airdrop there, which he stressed did not happen.

The lieutenant said that Makha port is an important outlet for besieged Taiz and other nearby Yemeni governorates. He added that it is crucial to demine the coast, remarking it is a patriotic and humanitarian responsibility.

ONI noted that the closure of this waterway would lead to substantial increases in total energy costs and global oil prices.

Bab el-Mandeb is 25 kilometers wide and a very important waterway for global navigation through which merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden sail to the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and then the Mediterranean Sea.

It is one of the most crowded waterways for oil transportation in the Middle East and other regions, with over 60 commercial ships that cross the strait and more than 3.3 million oil bpd.

Houthis carried out several attacks near Bab al-Mandeb, the last one in February when they targeted a Saudi frigate and an Emirati relief ship. They have also targeted a US navy patrol vessel in October 2016, but the attack was not successful.

Khasroof considered the statement of commander of Quds Force Qasem Soleimani’s about Bab el-Mandeb being under Shi’ite control a clear condemnation of Iran.