Tag Archives: Yemen

Ansarullah source voices doubt over Saudi prisoner exchange

The source added, in an interview with Sputnik Arabic news service, “We do not know their identity and whether they are military or had been detained by Riyadh. The coming hours will probably shed more light on the issue.”

He continued, “A delegation from the Committee of prisoners in Sanaa will meet with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the coming hours.”

The source pointed out that the Saudi-led coalition announced the release of the prisoners before the operation took place, or before they delivered any information about them. This is while the coalition failed this week to exchange 135 prisoners from both sides in Taiz (60 from the coalition and 75 from Ansar Allah).

The source confirmed that the coming hours will carry full details on whether the deal was completed or not.

On Tuesday, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a leader with the Ansar Allah movement, welcomed in a tweet the announcement of the Saudi-led coalition to release 200 Yemeni prisoners, calling on the coalition to release all detainees.

Earlier on Tuesday, the coalition announced through its spokesman, Turki al-Malki, that 200 Yemeni war prisoners had been released as part of the Stockholm Agreement prisoner exchange.


Saudi-led coalition says Yemeni rebels hijacked vessel

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen says Iran-aligned rebels have hijacked a vessel south of the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency quoted coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki as saying Monday that Houthi rebels seized the vessel while it was towing a South Korean drilling rig the previous day.

Al-Malki said the “attack” threatens vital shipping routes in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, used for oil shipments from the Gulf to Europe, as well as goods from Asia to Europe.

A Houthi leader, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi tweeted that their forces seized a South Korean vessel in Yemen’s waters and would release it.

The Houthis have in the past targeted oil tankers and military ships belonging to Saudi Arabia and its partners in the coalition fighting in Yemen’s war since 2015.


Yemeni government back in Aden under deal with separatists

ADEN: Yemen’s internationally recognized government returned to the war-torn country on Monday for the first time since it was forced out by southern separatists during clashes last summer.

Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed landed in Aden, fulfilling a key point in the power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia that ended months of infighting with separatists in Yemen’s south.

“The government’s priorities in the next stage are to normalize the situation in Aden first and then consolidate state institutions on the ground … as a guarantor of stability,” Saeed told The Associated Press when he disembarked onto the tarmac.

He described the government’s return as “foundational for the improvement of civic services,” but added that “security challenges cannot be overlooked, especially at this stage.”

Saeed, accompanied by five key ministers from President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government, was received by local officials and Saudi forces at the air base.

“Today we are uniting our efforts to defeat the Iranian project in Yemen and restore the state,” the government said in a statement.

In August, the separatists, overran Aden and drove out forces loyal to President Hadi, who has been based in Saudi Arabia since 2015.

The outbreak of violence between nominal partners in the coalition fighting against Iran-allied Houthi rebels added a new twist to the country’s complex civil war.

The power-sharing deal, signed earlier this month in Riyadh, calls for both sides to pull their forces out of Aden. That leaves the city under the coalition’s control, with only a presidential guard for Hadi’s protection if the exiled president were to return.

The agreement also asks that the separatists break up their militias and integrate them into Hadi’s forces.

“The plan for incorporating the security services needs to be clear and transparent,” Saeed told The Associated Press. “We have the support of the Saudis and the coalition leaders, factors that will help to implement the agreement through promising steps on the ground.”

The conflict in the Arab’s world’s poorest country started in 2014, when the Houthi rebels captured the capital, Sanaa, along with much of the country’s north. The Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015 to drive out the Houthis and restore Hadi’s government.


US urged to overhaul arms sales stance after Yemen withdrawal

US officials have been urged to make advanced military hardware available to the UAE in recognition of its moves to end the conflict in Yemen.

Danny Sebright, president of the US-UAE Business Council, told a Dubai audience of business leaders and dignitaries that the recent withdrawal of some UAE troops was “significant and very important”.

The development should be met by an increased willingness in Washington DC to “move forward on the release of more sophisticated technologies” which would bolster Emirati defences against Iran and other adversaries, he said.

Advanced armed drones, including the deadly Reaper model, are among the American weapons systems that have been sought after by Gulf countries, but sales have been blocked due to US rules.

Some UAE troops recently returned from Yemen following successful operations in Aden and there are ongoing efforts to end a conflict that has dragged on for years.

“Steps recently taken by the UAE to begin redeploying and drawing down forces in Yemen are significant and very important,” Mr Sebright said.

“These should be met by increased willingness in Washington to move forward on the release of more sophisticated technologies to sustain the UAE’s effective counter-terrorism efforts as well as to improve their defensive posture to address a range of new and evolving threats from Iran and other aggressors in the region.”

The United Nations is also working to implement a deal struck in Sweden between both sides of the conflict to bring the Red Sea city of Hodeidah under its control.

Speaking at a dinner at the Dubai Air Show on Sunday, Mr Sebright warned that the US stance meant the UAE was instead turning to US rivals such as China and Russia for weapons systems, despite their preference to do business with the Americans.

This was giving China in particular an advantage in the “great power struggle”, he said.

“When they [the UAE] cannot receive capabilities from the US, that they deem essential for their own legitimate self-defence needs, they say to me ‘what choice do we have but to turn to countries like China and Russia to fill those gaps?’

“I have led multiple trade missions of marquee US companies in the tech sector to the UAE just in the last two months. Every single meeting with UAE and government industry leaders included elements of discussion focused on how China is starting to win in this part of the world.

“We must do better in forging even closer partnerships and cooperation with our UAE and other Gulf partners if we are to check the spread of Chinese influence.”

Both Russia and China have made efforts to strengthen ties with Gulf states in recent years, with both President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin visiting Abu Dhabi within the last 18 months.

The US has vowed to review its policy regarding the export of some military technologies, including armed drones, although it is bound by agreements such as the Missile Technology Control Regime that do not apply to China.

The US had shifted its main focus from counter-terrorism, which had dominated defence policy for the past two decades, to “great power competition”, said Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment at the US department of defence.

She told the audience that “interoperability” between branches of the US military, as well as allies, was crucial as the world entered a new era of cyber warfare.

“From cyber security to intellectual property, supply chain security underpinning all of this, we must ensure our industry partners are protecting their capabilities,” she said.

“The Chinese are familiar with our loopholes and they are exploiting them, daily. They do not play by the rules of free, democratic societies and we must work together, government, industry, our partners and allies, to combat this threat.

“I will tell you after having been in industry for 33 years, and now in government for two years, my eyes have been absolutely opened by the daily intel briefings I get… There is no question: we are at cyber war with China”.


UN Welcomes Houthi Move To Halt Attacks On Saudi Arabia

The U.N. envoy for Yemen says the Houthi rebels’ initiative to halt attacks on Saudi Arabia “could send a powerful message of the will to end the war” in Yemen.

Martin Griffiths’ comments Saturday came hours after the Houthi announcement, and a week after the rebels claimed a strike that crippled a key oil facility in Saudi Arabia.

Griffiths called for “taking advantage of this opportunity and moving forward with all necessary steps to reduce violence, military escalation and unhelpful rhetoric.”

Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen since 2015. That conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

The U.S. and the Saudis blamed the Sept. 14 attack on Iran, which backs the Houthi rebels. Tehran denies any responsibility.


Iraq denies using its territories to attack Saudi oil facilities

Iraq’s Cabinet denied Sunday, accusations against it of using its territories to attack Saudi oil facilities by drones.

“Iraq denies what has been circulated by some media outlets and social media about the use of its territories to attack Saudi oil installations by drones, and affirms its constitutional commitment to preventing the use of its territories for aggression on its neighbours, brothers, and friends,” said Cabinet Office in a press statement.

“The Iraqi government will deal firmly against anyone who tries to violate the Constitution. It has formed a committee of the relevant Iraqi parties to follow up information and developments,” explained the Cabinet Office.

“Iraq calls on all parties to stop carrying out reciprocal attacks and causing huge human and facility losses,” the statement added.

The Iraqi government stressed that it “is following up these developments with great attention and cooperating with its brothers. It also expresses its concern that escalation and military solutions would complicate the humanitarian and political situation, and threaten our common security as well as regional and international security.”

According to the statement, Iraq reiterated its call for “following a peaceful solution in Yemen, to protect the lives of civilians and to preserve the security of the brothering countries.”

Iraq also called on the countries of the world, especially the countries of the region, to “assume their humanitarian and moral responsibility and undertake initiatives that would put an end to this useless war, which only results in great casualties and the destruction of vital infrastructure.”

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday containing two fires that occurred in two facilities belonging to the Aramco oil company, east of the Kingdom, caused by drone attacks on the facilities, of which the Houthi group claimed responsibility.

Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said that the targeting of the two Aramco facilities had “temporarily halted production.”

Since 2015, the Saudi-led Arab Coalition has been carrying out military operations in Yemen in support of pro-government forces against Iranian-backed Houthi forces, which have controlled provinces including the capital Sanaa since 2014. Since 15 May, the Houthis have carried out drone attacks targeting oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Aramco is the leading industrial company in Saudi Arabia and the largest oil company in the world.


Yemeni drone attacks halve Saudi oil, gas production, US pins blame on Iran

Riyadh admits that Yemen’s drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s key oil facilities have shut down about 50 percent of the kingdom’s crude and gas production, with the US rushing to point the finger at Iran for the raids without providing any evidence.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Sunday, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that the attacks on Aramco refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais, east of Saudi Arabia, had cut the state oil giant’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day, or about 50 percent of its output.

He added, however, that parts of the reduction would be compensated for through drawing from Aramco’s oil stocks.

The minister noted that the attacks had also led to a halt in gas production that will reduce the supply of ethane and natural gas liquids by 50 percent.

In August, Saudi Arabia produced 9.85 million barrels per day, according to the figures from the US Energy Information Administration.

Yemen used 10 drones for Saturday’s operation, which was one of their largest retaliatory attacks ever inside the kingdom.

Yemen’s armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Sare’e warned that operations will “expand” and be “more painful” as long as Saudi Arabia continues military aggression against the impoverished country.

Pompeo blames Iran

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to put the blame for Saturday’s operation on Iran, claiming, “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia” and that “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

“The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression,” he added.

Pompeo’s tweet was, however, met with a wave of criticism and ridicule on Twitter.

Replying to Pompeo, US Democratic senator Chris Murphy tweeted, “This is such irresponsible simplification and it’s how we get into dumb wars of choice.

“The Saudis and Houthis are at war. The Saudis attack the Houthis and the Houthis attack back. Iran is backing the Houthis and has been a bad actor, but it’s just not as simple as Houthis = Iran,” wrote Murphy, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser under ex-president Barack Obama, called Pompeo’s remarks “incredibly dumb, dishonest and dangerous.”

The Houthis, he added, “are not the same as Iran and the Saudis are fighting a war against them in Yemen.”

Pompeo’s claims come while media reports and analysts have attributed the successful drone operation to Yemen’s growing defense capabilities and Saudi Arabia’s vulnerable defenses.

The Yemeni army has said the raids were carried out on the back of an intelligence operation and in cooperation with “certain honorable and freedom-seeking individuals within Saudi Arabia.”

Trump voices support for Saudis

Following the drone strikes, US President Donald Trump, a stalwart supporter of the Riyadh-led war on Yemen, spoke on the phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been leading the military campaign in his capacity as the Saudi defense chief.

Trump offered his administration’s support for what he called “Saudi Arabia’s self defense,” saying the attacks on Saudi oil facilities had a negative impact on the US and global economies.

Bin Salman, for his part, said he was “willing and able to confront and deal with” what he described as a “terrorist aggression.”

Yemeni fighters regularly target positions inside Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the Saudi-led offensive, which began in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the country’s Riyadh-allied former regime and crush the Houthis.

The US-backed military aggression, coupled with a naval blockade, has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, destroyed the country’s infrastructure and led to a massive humanitarian crisis.


Drone Attacks By Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Set Saudi Oil facilities Ablaze

Drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels set alight two major oil facilities run by the state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the Kingdom’s Interior Ministry said.

The Saudi Press Agency, citing a statement by the Ministry, said that the drones caused the fire at the refinery in the city of Abqaiq in the Kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province, as well as the blaze at the Khurais oil field, around 150 km from Riyadh.

Abqaiq is the location of the world’s largest oil processing plant, which handles two-thirds of Saudi oil production. Khurais contains the country’s second-largest oilfield.

The agency did not specify the type of drones involved or name the alleged perpetrator. The fires at both sites were brought under control and a probe was launched into the alleged attacks, reported the state media.

There was no immediate comment from Aramco or information about deaths or injuries. It was also unclear how the attacks would impact oil production.

On the Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel, military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the Iran-aligned rebels had launched 10 drones in a coordinated attack on the oil facilities in response to the Saudi-led war against rebel areas in Yemen.

He said Saturday’s attack was “one of the biggest operations the Houthi forces had undertaken inside Saudi Arabia” and was carried out in “co-operation with the honourable people inside the Kingdom”.

Multiple videos posted on social media earlier on Saturday showed an Aramco compound engulfed in flames and thick black smoke billowing from the site. In some videos, several loud bangs resembling the sound of explosions can be heard in the background.

Houthi fighters were blamed for drone attacks on the Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility in August and on other oil facilities in May. The rebel movement is fighting the Yemeni government and a Saudi-led coalition.

Yemen has been at war since 2015 when President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. Saudi Arabia backs Hadi and has led a coalition of regional countries against the rebels.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming and directing the Houthi rebels in Yemen to launch drone and rocket attacks across the kingdom’s border.


Coalition downs Saudi-bound Houthi drone

The Joint Forces of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen today morning intercepted and downed a drone launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia towards the city of Najran in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, reported.

The Spokesman for the Coalition, Colonel Turki Al Maliki, said the all drone attacks attempted by the terrorist militia are doomed to fail and that the coalition adheres to rules of engagement to prevent civilian casualties when responding to any threats.

Al Maliki re-affirmed the Coalition’s continued efforts to neutralise and destroy Houthi capabilities in accordance with the rules of customary international human rights and humanitarian law.


Saudi Arabia blocks fuel shipment from entering Yemen’s Hudaydah

Saudi Arabia has stopped a desperately-needed fuel shipment from entering the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, a lifeline for millions of people in the impoverished war-torn country.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which has imposed a brutal war on Yemen since March 2015, seized a Hudaydah-bound fuel tanker on Saturday, reports said, adding that the fuel in the tanker was expected to be used in the port city’s power plant as well as cement factories.

The Saudi coalition has been enforcing a tight naval blockade on Yemen, particularly on Hudaydah, which acts as a lifeline for the impoverished nation, since August 2015, five months after it started the war.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger as the invaders keep obstructing inflow of direly-need supplies.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 over the past four and a half years.

Saudi Arabia strives to reinstall ex-president of Yemen Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, who resigned from presidency and fled to the Arab kingdom in January 2015 amid popular outcry over corruption and mismanagement of the economy.

The coalition also tries to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has taken over state matters to prevent the country from descending into chaos and has been helping the Yemeni army in defending the country against invaders.

Several Western countries are supplying the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment.