Yemeni Foreign Minister: We Have Documents on Iran’s Crimes

Jeddah- Yemen is in possession of documents that reveal the crimes committed by Iran, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi has said.

The minister pointed out that the Yemeni government intends to arrange a meeting with US officials in Riyadh, on the sidelines of the Arab-Islamic-US Summit to discuss the Yemeni file.

Mekhlafi ensured, during a phone call with Asharq Al-Awsat, that Yemen will be a focal point in the summit through the participation of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the meeting with US President Donald Trump, based on the invitation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The Yemeni minister considered this summit a significant opportunity for Yemen to tackle Arab topics, adding that the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia and supporting legitimacy, has a message to deliver regarding the Iranian intervention in Yemen.

The meddling – via Iran’s support to Houthis and Saleh militias – has sparked the war in Yemen, he said. It also led to the country’s involvement in a long-lasting destructive war, not to mention that part of Yemen was transformed by Iran to a base to target Saudi Arabia.

Mekhlafi continued that the government will assign a high-ranking delegation to visit the US and meet with a number of officials, especially that there is a great US understanding of what is happening in Yemen with the presence of the new administration.

On proof of Tehran’s involvement in Yemen, he said that the Yemeni government has several documents and pieces of evidence on the crimes committed by Iran.

The minister added that Yemen will present them to the international community.

Commenting on his meeting with UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Mekhlafi affirmed that the government did not object to anything and demanded that the envoy provide guarantees on behalf of the other party that is hindering the peace process.

Countering Qaeda in Yemen Sparks Controversy in Washington

London- Yemen’s government demanded that United States forces operative in the country refer to Yemeni officials before engaging in any military action, whether aerial or ground based.

Coordination with Yemeni forces is to reduce risks of losing civilian lives.

Yemen said it had not suspended counter-terrorism operations with the U.S. government, despite controversy over a U.S. commando raid on al-Qaeda militants in which several civilians were also killed.

A statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington said the government “stresses that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism operations in Yemen with the United States Government”.

The Yemeni government “reiterates its firm position that any counterterrorism operations carried out in Yemen should continue to be in consultation with Yemeni authorities and have precautionary measures to prevent civilian casualties.”

Yemeni officials told Reuters that President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had not withdrawn the official permission for the U.S. to carry out special operations ground missions but had made clear their “reservations” about the last operation.

Hadi has met with the U.S. ambassador to Yemen and “made clear his reservations about the problems with the last operation,” a senior Yemeni official told the news agency.

A debate is currently raging on strategies used on fighting al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

U.S. forces led a commando operation known by the Yakla raid, approved by President Donald Trump, which took place in the area of Al Bayda province in central Yemen. The Jan. 29 commando raid was only the second publicly acknowledged ground attack by U.S. forces in Yemen.

The raid resulted in the death of a U.S. Navy member along at least 14 civilians, women and children, most notably the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP’s leader, who was killed on a U.S.-led raid in 2012.

The State Department said the U.S. would continue working with Hadi “and his representatives to ensure that this important partnership remains solid in order to ultimately eradicate” al-Qaeda and ISIS from Yemen.

The U.S. operation may also have created a headache for the government not only by killing innocent people but also a local ally of pro-government tribes fighting the Houthi-led coup.

Government Normalizes Situation in Liberated Provinces … before Hadi’s Return

Yemen

Riyadh – Under the chairmanship of Dr. Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, the Yemeni government is working on renormalizing the conditions, providing services for citizens and finalizing the preparations to move the Yemeni Central Bank to Aden, following the issuance of the presidential decree few days ago.

Bin Daghr returned home on Thursday along with seven ministers to the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital as rebels continue to rule Sanaa.

The Prime Minister flew from Riyadh to the port city where he said upon arrival that his return was “final.” He toured several Arab countries, including UAE, Egypt and Sudan.

Moreover, Bin Daghr said his return was prompted by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s decision to move the central bank from Sanaa to Aden.

Yemen’s Information Minister Moammer al-Eryani confirmed earlier that President Hadi will return to Aden after finishing his current visit to the United States.

Al-Eryani told Asharq Al-Awsat that there arrangements are underway to receive the Yemeni president, but he refused to give further details.

Regarding preparations to move the Central Bank, official sources confirmed that everything is going as scheduled and arranged according to what the government has approved, stressing that the citizens will benefit from the results of these efforts put in the near future.

On the other hand, the Yemeni government announced that it is preparing a precautionary, security plan to counter terrorist organizations and sleeper cells in order to protect Aden.

According to Dr. Bin Daghr, the government is undergoing its plan to normalize the living situations in liberated areas, free the capital city, Sana’a, and the other areas controlled by Houthi and Saleh militias in order for them to implement U.N. resolution 2216 and what is left from the Gulf initiative, its implementation mechanism and the outcomes of the national dialogue.

Moreover, within the renormalization process, Yemen’s Prime Minister ordered the transformation of five billion Yemeni Riyals to the Central Bank in order to face the urgent needs for the purchase of diesel or fuel oil for the power plants in the temporary capital, Aden.

Coalition: Ballistic Missile Intercepted in Yemen

A ballistic missile fired early Tuesday towards the central Yemeni city of Ma’rib has been intercepted, a Saudi-led military coalition battling Houthi insurgents in the country said.

The missile was “destroyed with no damage” after its launch at around 12:15 am, a statement from the pro-legitimacy forces said.

“Coalition air forces immediately responded by destroying the missile launching pad,” it said.

Ma’rib, controlled by forces loyal to Yemen’s recognized government, is east of the capital Sanaa, which remains in the hands of Houthis.

This was at least the third missile launch since United Nations-brokered peace talks began in Kuwait in April between the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the insurgency delegation.

Saudi Arabia has deployed Patriot missile batteries to counter tactical ballistic missiles which have been fired occasionally during the war.

King Salman and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Discuss Prospects of Cooperation

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, one of the winners of the United Nations Champions of the Earth award.

Jeddah-Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud discussed with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed bilateral relations and prospects of cooperation in various fields and reviewed the latest regional and international developments.

Earlier on Sunday, King Salman received at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. The reception was attended by Prince Khalid al-Faisal, adviser to the king and governor of Makkah region; Prince Mansour bin Mutaib, minister of state, cabinet member and adviser to the king; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, deputy premier and minister of interior; Minister of State and Cabinet Member Musaed bin Mohammed al-Aiban; Minister of Finance Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz al-Assaf; Minister of Culture and Information Adel bin Zaid al-Turaifi; Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir and Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Abdullah bin Hajjaj al-Mutairi.

Attending from the Bangladeshi side were chief adviser to the premier Riyhana Sadeq; Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali; the prime minister’s Secretary Mohamed Abu Al-Kalam Azad and Bangladeshi Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ghulam Moshi.

In a common matter, al-Jubeir said that Sheikh Wazed’s visit to the Kingdom comes within the framework of consultation and coordination between the two countries to promote relations on different levels; referring to the desire of both countries to deepen ties in the security, military, economic and political fields.

In a press statement following the meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, al-Jubeir said that the Kingdom looks forward to build strong ties with Bangladesh, which has a history of cooperation and coordination with the Kingdom, citing that Bangladesh was the first country to join the Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism and extremism.

On the other hand, King Salman made a telephone call to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi of Yemen, offering his condolences on the demise of his brother Mohammed Mansour Hadi who passed away on Sunday.

During the conversation, the monarch appealed to Allah Almighty to pour his mercy on the soul of the deceased and rest him in paradise.

For his part, President Hadi thanked King Salman for his noble fraternal feelings.

U.N.-Backed Yemen Peace Talks Begin after Delay in Kuwait

Picture taken bu Kuna for the session that was held in Kuwait between the Yemeni government and the Houthi Rebels on Thursday

Riyadh, Kuwait- Amidst tensed ambiance, talks between the Yemeni government and the rebels (Houthis and Saleh), have kicked off on Thursday in Kuwait after a three-day delay as warring parties traded accusations over truce breaches; thus, forcing the UN to intervene and put pressure on them to attend these talks that were supposed to begin on Monday, 18 April.

The delegation of Houthi representatives and their allies flew out of Sanaa and arrived to Kuwait yesterday late.

Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah confirmed on the opening session that the UN-brokered Yemen’s peace negotiations are a “historical chance” to end the country’s conflict and stopping the bloodshed.

“We hope that Yemen’s disputed parties would be wise enough, and put the interest of Yemen and its people ahead of anything else during these negotiations in order to resolve the crisis,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled added.

He urged all parties to take into consideration suffering of their brothers and sisters, and to try to avoid further destruction and displacement.

He called on the parties to contribute positively to the peace negotiations so as to reach a comprehensive solution aiming to save the country and maintain the region’s stability and security.

“Kuwait, which has been standing side by side with its brothers since decades, welcomes your purposeful efforts to end the conflict,” he said, expressing hope that the negotiations would succeed to reach peace, which will restore stability and security to Yemen, and will maintain its territorial integrity.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled also expressed his gratitude to the role of the UN in backing these negotiations, represented in its envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

He stressed the importance of cooperation with GCC member states in accordance

with the resolution issued during the 36th round of the summit, which called for holding an international conference for rebuilding Yemen in collaboration with the international community in order to “turn war into peace and destruction into development.”

“We realize the huge responsibility upon you to resolve the conflict and we are aware of your keenness on the interest of your country and its people through effective contributions to these negotiations,” he told the parties.

The minister conveyed greetings of HH Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to all participants, voicing hope the Emir got towards achieving the goals of the negotiations.

“The choice today is one of two options: a safe homeland that ensures security for all of its citizens… or remnants of a land whose sons die every day,” the U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in an opening speech.

The talks are expected to focus on creating a more inclusive government and restoring state authority over the country, which is now divided between the Houthis and Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s administration.

“The war has caused a major humanitarian crisis in Yemen as more than 6,200 were killed, some 35,000 people have been wounded and more than 2.5 million people have been displaced,” he explained.

“The consultations should provide a strong foundation for a new political consensus, to help Yemen achieve the stability and security that its people deserve and its future requires,” Ould Cheikh added. “The path to peace may be difficult but I believe that it is clearly in reach if all parties engage in good faith.”

He also said that in order to provide a suitable environment for the talks and enable expanded humanitarian assistance, a cessation of hostilities came into force at midnight on 10 April, and despite some serious violations in various areas, reports indicate that there has been a noticeable improvement in the security situation.

Praising the constant work of the De-escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC) and the Local De-escalation Committees, he urged the delegations to work together to overcome their differences and to develop compromise solutions based on the framework of Security Council resolution 2216, which calls for the Houthis

to withdraw from areas they seized since 2014 and hand heavy weapons back to the government.

“Differences in opinion are permissible but there are always middle grounds,” he said. “Gaps are plentiful but constructive ideas can address them. Challenges may hinder us but solutions are available. Divisions exist but they can be overcome. Most regimes in the world are built upon the diversity of their political spectrum which is turned into a positive force.”

“It is impossible to turn the clock backwards and change the past but we can look forward to the future and improve the present,” he stressed. “Peace is a choice, make it your choice,” he added.

On the other hand, Turkey announced on Thursday it had frozen assets of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in line with a decision by the U.N. Security Council.

All assets belonging to Saleh and his son Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh in Turkish banks and other financial institutions “are frozen until February 26, 2017″, according to an announcement in the government gazette.

Yemenis Thank King Salman on the Anniversary of Operation “Decisive Storm”

Yemenis holding a large banner with King Salman's Picture to thank HRH for his efforts to restore legitimacy to their country.
Yemenis holding a large banner with King Salman’s Picture to thank HRH for his efforts to restore legitimacy to their country.

Riyadh- After a year of launching the “Decisive Storm” by the Arab Coalition to restore legitimacy to Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, March 25 marks the 1st anniversary of this storm.

Yemen has faced extremely complicated military, security, political and economic developments due to the coup, which was led by Houthi militia and their ally, ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A massive march was launched on Friday in a number of Yemeni liberated cities located in the east and central of the country. Participants in the march carried huge pictures of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and several leaders of the Arab coalition states.

Meanwhile, Yemeni activists also launched a campaign entitled “#Thanks_Salman”.

The activities that were held in different cities of Yemen in gratitude and appreciation for the sincere stances and the great role being played by the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman by supporting legitimacy in Yemen and confronting the operations of the Houthis and Saleh militias.

On the other hand, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Spokesman of Coalition Forces, Advisor at Defense Minister’s Office, Brigadier Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Asiri said that Yemen’s file has been prepared to be discussed by all Saudi Ministries since September 14, 2014, directly after Sanaa was seized.

He added that there was a careful military follow-up, including several scenarios that were put to save the situation there. One of these scenarios was the Saudi intervention to save the legitimacy, following a request from Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Al-Asiri explained after a year of the coalition forces’ intervention that “Yemen was kind of abducted last year and Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was put under house arrest in Sanaa, then Aden, where he was attacked by military aviation.” “However, this year is different as Hadi is still present with a completely legitimate government, which is internationally recognized by the virtue of International Security Council’s resolution 2216,” he added.

Al-Asiri also pointed out that Houthi coup is internationally criminalized under UN resolution, and the legitimate government controls 90 percent of the Yemeni lands and is in Yemen managing its interior military operations.

Asiri explained for Asharq Al-Awsat that humanitarian aid are arriving to all Yemeni cities and provinces, including areas besieged by Houthis.

He added: “Saudi-Yemeni borders are safe and stable, and Iran’s effect in the country in negligible regardless of its ongoing attempts.

The Advisor at Defense Minister’s Office confirmed for Asharq Al-Awsat that major military operations are over and the current stage is consisted of response operations for the close air support, mainly determined by Yemeni national army.

In addition, Spokesman of Coalition Forces mentioned that before launching the Decisive Storm’s military operations, “we had evidences proving the presence of members from Hezbollah and Iran in Yemen, and today we have doubts that the aid containers arriving at the port of Hodeida are carrying smuggled weapons for the Houthis.”

Anti-Houthi coalition denies targeting hospital in north Yemen

Yemenis unload food parcels provided by the Red Crescent on October 28, 2015, in the southern port city of Aden. (AFP PHOTO / SALEH AL-OBEIDI)
Yemenis unload food parcels provided by the Red Crescent on October 28, 2015, in the southern port city of Aden. (AFP PHOTO / SALEH AL-OBEIDI)
Riyadh and Taiz, Asharq Al-Awsat—Arab coalition warplanes targeted a farm housing Houthi rebels in northern Yemen on Monday rather than a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, the spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Speaking via telephone, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said coalition jets launched a raid on a farm in Sa’ada in northern Yemen on Monday housing militants and military vehicles belonging to the Houthi movement, denying claims of targeting a hospital operated by the international relief organization.

Coalition jets have not targeted any civilians since the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis, codenamed Operation Decisive Storm, started in late March, Asiri said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Wednesday the destruction of a Doctors Without Borders- run hospital in the Houthi stronghold, an attack he blamed on the Saudi-led coalition.

“Air raids on Sa’ada province are continuous and the coalition only targets sites after identifying them on the ground according to accurate information,” Asiri said.

According to the spokesman, militants targeted by the coalition jets were preparing an attack on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen.

Only one week before the attack took place, the relief organization informed the coalition of its location inside the northern province and gave it the coordinates of the hospital, Asiri said, dismissing the accusation as “desperate.”

He said: “The strategy of the coalition forces since the start of Operation Decisive Storm has been not to target civilian residences and hospitals at all, concentrating instead on rebel positions, command and control centers and weapons depots.”

Asiri urged international organizations, including the UN, to visit Yemen in order to monitor the violations which, he said, although committed by the Houthi militias are attributed to the coalition.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led warplanes dropped weapons and ammunition to government loyalists battling Houthis in Taiz on Wednesday.

The airdrops landed in the southern Dhubab district after Houthis were driven from the southern area, military sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing the Houthis in Yemen for more than six months in a bid to restore the internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi whose government was toppled from power by the Iran-backed rebels in September of 2014.

Dialogue is “pointless” without disarming Yemen’s Houthis: minister

Militants loyal to Yemen's government stand next to an armored vehicle at the frontline to fight against Houthi militants in control of the Bab El-Mandeb Strait, which links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, in the Yemeni governorate of Taiz, on October 3, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Militants loyal to Yemen’s government stand next to an armored vehicle at the frontline to fight against Houthi militants in control of the Bab El-Mandeb Strait, which links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, in the Yemeni governorate of Taiz, on October 3, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Cairo and Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s human rights minister has called for “disarming” the Houthi group who controls large parts of the country, a step, he said, without which any dialogue between the rebel movement and the government would be “pointless.”

“No peace [agreement] can be reached with this extremist group unless it hands over its weapons [to the government],” Ezz Al-Din Al-Asbahi, Yemen’s Human Rights Minister, said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday, expressing hope that the Iran-allied group will return weapons depots and military bases it has seized from the government.

Asbahi’s remarks coincide with the UN Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s return to Yemen to resume peace efforts aimed at ending the conflict that pits loyalists to the Gulf-backed government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi against an alliance of Houthi rebels and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“We appreciate the great efforts [of the UN] for they are dealing with a party that does not know a thing about international law or … diplomatic rules,” Asbahi said of the Houthi movement that continues to occupy large parts of Yemen despite a UN Security Council resolution calling for its withdrawal.

Once disarmed, Asbahi argued, the Houthi group will lose its influence which he attributed to its seizure of weapons depots and military bases from Hadi’s government in coordination with Saleh’s forces.

He said: “The Houthi-Saleh alliance is incapable of building a country, society or institutions. It lacks a vision for the future and all it does is cause harm to innocent citizens.”

Earlier this month, the Houthi group and Saleh’s party notified UN chief Ban Ki-moon that they were ready to join talks on a settlement based on a seven-point peace plan proposed by the UN in talks in Oman in September.

“We want from them two lines only saying: ‘We abide by the legitimacy and the UN resolution’; not just a letter addressed to the UN secretary-general,” Asbahi said.

Meanwhile, Major General Ja’afar Mohamed Sa’ad, the newly appointed governor of Aden, arrived to the strategic southern city from Saudi Arabia on Friday.

The appointment of Sa’ad, who replaced Nayef Al-Bakri, comes as the city is going through exceptional circumstances caused by fighting between the Houthis and Hadi’s loyalists in mid-July.

Government loyalists, backed by Saudi-led airstrikes and ground troops, have driven out the Houthis from Aden, and advanced towards the capital, Sana’a, which remains under rebel control since September of 2014.

Bahrain FM: Saudi-led coalition saved Yemen from civil war

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa speaking at the headquarters of Asharq Al-Awsat in London on Wednesday October 14, 2015. (Asharq Al-Awsat/James Hanna)
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa speaking at the headquarters of Asharq Al-Awsat in London on Wednesday October 14, 2015. (Asharq Al-Awsat/James Hanna)
London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Saudi-led military action against the Houthis has averted a civil war, one that would have changed the demographics of not only Yemen but the entire region, Bahrain’s foreign minister has told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Had it not been for the intervention of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz at a critical moment in history, the shape of the region would have changed for the worse for decades to come,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said in an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.

“If Operation Decisive Storm had not come on time, the situation would have been more dangerous and [the insurgents] would have wrested full control of Yemen which means a non-stop civil war,” Sheikh Khalid said, using the codename of the military campaign that Saudi Arabia and nine other Arab states launched in late March in a bid to reinstate the internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Yemen descended into chaos when an alliance of northern Shi’ites, known as Houthis, and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh took over large parts of Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a, in September of 2014, prompting Hadi to flee to the southern city of Aden and then to Saudi Arabia.

All Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, except Oman, are part of the military campaign that Saudi Arabia has begun at the request of Hadi.

Sheikh Khalid, however, denied the GCC was divided over Operation Decisive Storm or the developments in Yemen, saying: “There is a divergence of views over how to deal with the issue between one side who did not want to participate, such as the Sultanate of Oman, and others who participated to the degree that they deployed troops in Yemen.”

The ultimate goal of Gulf troops entering Yemen, the FM said, is to stabilize the country and help the legitimate government of President Hadi to take the initiative, something which requires the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2216 which calls for the immediate withdrawal of Houthis from the areas they have seized in Yemen.

All GCC member states agree on the need for implementing resolution 2216, Sheikh Khalid said, “As for how to deal with the situation [in Yemen], there is a divergence [of views] but not division.”

Commenting about the Iran nuclear deal, the Bahraini FM said finding a solution for Iran’s nuclear program has been the priority for the Gulf’s Western allies despite their knowledge of the Islamic Republic’s destabilizing role in the region.

Sheikh Khalid called Iran’s nuclear program “backward” but said it could pose further risks to the region if developed.

“But the other risks [of Iran] are in its spread of terrorism and terrorists in the region,” Sheikh Khalid said, adding that thousands of Iranian soldiers are fighting with Bashar Al-Assad’s forces in Syria.