Sunday, March 18, 2018

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Three Years of Saudi Heinous Crimes in Yemen

By Sondoss Al Asaad
Yemen a miserable isolated Arab country has been devastated by an ongoing Saudi bloody war. Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its gulf allies (GCC) have launched a vicious military campaign against Yemen to reinstall its former government. Recently, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the UK has refocused attention on this silent conflict.

The collation has imposed a blockade on the port of Hodeida city, the main entry point for food and medicines and has been repeatedly accused of unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets which amount to war crimes. Obviously, the U.K., U.S. and other Western governments back, supply weapons and provides training to the GCC soldiers.
Amid the global silent and the mainstream media hypocrisy, the criminal collation systematically targets residential areas, claiming it would control arms transfer to the Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia regards the Houthis as Iranian proxies and intervened to check their advance. These heinous massacres have prompted accusations by some Western opposition MPs and human rights groups of significant responsibility for civilian casualties. Thousands of Yemenis have been killed and the infrastructure has been thoroughly pulverized.
The GCC collation has imposed a blockade on Yemen’s air, sea and land borders in November 2017 in response to Huthis firing missiles towards Riyadh airport, closing an aid lifeline to tens of thousands of starving Yemenis. The U.K. government denies that its forces are advising the Saudis on specific targets, though they admit that, after a raid, British officers can give advice on future targeting policy.
A UN panel of experts that reviewed 10 Saudi airstrikes found Saudi denials of involvement in these specific airstrikes were implausible, and individuals responsible for planning, authorising or executing the strikes would meet the standard for the imposition of UN sanctions. The panel reported early in January, “even if the Saudi Arabia-led coalition had targeted legitimate military objectives … it is highly unlikely that the principles of international humanitarian law of proportionality and precautions in attack were respected.”
At the end of February, Russia vetoed a UK draft resolution that included a condemnation of Iran for violating the UN arms embargo in Yemen over claims that it supplied the missiles used by the Houthis that were fired towards Riyadh.The ongoing war has witnessed heinous atrocities, which emphasizes the urgent need of taking all necessary and possible steps to stop the war, bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure impunity. Since the beginning of the military campaign, the coalition has targeted numerous facilities including schools, hospitals, airports, ports, universities, water and electric utilities, roads, bridges. Although international conventions grant full protection for civilian installations, the Saudi warplanes have systematically targeted civil facilities using several internationally forbidden weapons, during the systemic raids over densely populated areas.
Medics have voiced alarm over the raging spread of the cholera epidemic in the impoverished country, saying that one child is infected every minute. Malnourished children, who number more than two million in Yemen, are greatly susceptible. Yemeni Health Ministry says that the Saudi aerial embargo has prevented patients from travelling abroad for treatment, and the entry of medicine into the country has been blocked. Over the following three years, the war has engulfed the entire country causing unbearable suffering for civilians. Due to the relentless bombardment, many civilians have been killed or injured, and a humanitarian crisis has spiraled, while the world ignores this raging war and hears little about its devastating consequences.
Various hospitals were shut because of the bombarding, and the insufficient medical teams. Further, vaccinations of major infectious diseases have been banned, amid the growth of the indicators of child malnutrition, and the spread of epidemics. In addition, more than 95% of doctors, nurses and consultants have been killed or fled the country. The lack of medicines has caused the deaths of many with Thalassemia and Anemia who need a monthly blood transfusion. Dialysis centres have made an SOS to save the lives of more than 6 thousand patients with Renal failure by providing them with necessary medical supplies, pointing out that the number of deaths of patients with renal failure exceeded 17 deaths in every 8 months.
The blockade imposed by the coalition has left more than 12,000 people killed, 49,000 injured and around 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. It has also created the world’s largest food security emergency. Human Rights Watch has accused the Saudi-led coalition of committing war crimes, saying its air raids killed 39 civilians, including 26 children, in two months. Additionally, The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that the number of suspected cholera cases in war-torn Yemen has hit one million. More than eight million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation, making Yemen the scene of, what the United Nations calls, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.The Saudi regime has launched his war to eliminate the Houthis movement and to reinstall a Riyadh-friendly regime in Yemen.
However, the collation has failed to achieve its geopolitical and ideological objectives regardless of spending billions of dollars and enlisting the cooperation of its vassal states as well as some Western countries. The world’s largest humanitarian crisis caused by Saudi prolonged military onslaught has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. Unfortunately, the UN has not yet taken any effective measures to halt the humanitarian tragedy for the sake of the ultimate objective that Saudi Arabia is pursuing in the country, which is eliminating the threat of the Houthis. Obviously, the Saudis have not achieved their basic goals; hence, they are seeking revenge on the innocent Yemenis through their aimless bombardment.

Theresa May misled parliament over Yemen UN resolution: Corbyn

Accusation comes as UK and Saudi Arabia sign preliminary deal for sale of 48 Typhoon fighter jets.

 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of misleading parliament over the legal basis for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, threatening to reignite a bitter political row over UK support for the conflict.
The row comes after the prime minister said the war in Yemen had United Nations backing, and threatens to overshadow the last day of the visit to the UK by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. 
It also came as the UK signed a preliminary deal with Saudi Arabia on Friday for the sale of 48 Typhoon fighter jets, to the dismay of rights campaigners.
In a full-throated defence of the UK's relationship with Riyadh on Wednesday, which came hours before she met the powerful crown prince in Downing Street, May told parliament that Saudi-led intervention was "backed" by the UN Security Council, and "as such" was supported by the UK.
Corbyn responded that UK forces were effectively "colluding" in war crimes by supporting Saudi forces.
It cannot be right, as I told the prime minister on Wednesday, that her government is colluding in what the UN and others say is evidence of war crimes. Germany has suspended arms supplies to Saudi Arabia, and so must the British government. This outrage must end
- Jeremy Corbyn, opposition leader
Now, Corbyn has gone further and attacked May's comments in parliament, saying that she got her facts wrong, amid claims that the UN has not explicitly authorised the use of military force by the Saudi-led coalition under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the document which regulates when states are authorised to use "all military means" to enforce UN resolutions.
Foreign Office officials told MEE on Friday that the prime minister was referring to UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which was passed in 2015 and recognised the Hadi government, while calling for all Yemeni parties to the conflict to "end the use of violence".
However, critics of the Saudi-led bombing campaign say the resolution did not authorise the use of force by the Saudi-led coalition. It merely noted a letter from the president of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Hadi, calling for military intervention.
A cholera epidemic is also sweeping Yemen (AFP)
This remains the Saudi-led coalition's legal justification for the war, but has been questioned by legal experts because Hadi had overstayed his term, resigned once and fled the country, placing the Saudi military action in a "murky legal" position.
Speaking at the Scottish Labour Party conference in Dundee on Friday, Corbyn said: "It cannot be right, as I told the prime minister on Wednesday, that her government is colluding in what the UN and others say is evidence of war crimes. Germany has suspended arms supplies to Saudi Arabia, and so must the British government. This outrage must end.
"Nor is it true, as the prime minister claimed, that the Saudi-led war in Yemen has been authorised by the United Nations Security Council.
"What's needed now is both a ceasefire and a concerted international effort to achieve a negotiated political settlement."
'Stop cuddling up to bin Salman'
Corbyn's intervention came after his shadow minister for peace told MEE earlier on Friday that the prime minister had got her facts wrong over the legal status of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.
Fabian Hamilton MP said: "Theresa May has got it all wrong here. The fact is that UN Resolution 2216 called for an end to the violence in Yemen and certainly did not support Saudi military intervention in the country."
The Labour shadow minister, added: "Instead of cuddling up to the crown prince, it is now time for the prime minister to show some leadership and suspend all British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as their use against civilians in Yemen is a source of shame for Britain."
The Saudi justification for its intervention in Yemen, where at least 5,000 civilians have been killed, rests on the claim that Riyadh is supporting a neighbour in need, which is legal under international law, but some experts say Houthi aggression may not be enough to justify intervention without a specific UN resolution.
Theresa May has got it all wrong here. The fact is that UN Resolution 2216 called for an end to the violence in Yemen, and certainly did not support Saudi military intervention in the country
- Fabian Hamilton, shadow minister for peace
The legal case is far from clear, but Saudi Arabia's justification rests on Hadi invoking Article 51 of the UN Charter, which provides the right to self-defence if a UN member state is attacked.
Some some experts say this is only relevant if Yemen was responding to an external armed attack. Riyadh regards the Houthis, who are based in the north of the country, as Iranian proxies and intervened to check their advance. 
The British prime minister also faced calls on Friday from within her own party over the UN's role in ending the conflict.
Former International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell told MEE: "We need an end to all violence, the lifting of the blockade, inclusive peace talks and full support for the new UN special representative Martin Griffiths. We also need the UN resolution urgently updated to reflect this."
A protest against MBS' visit to London on Wednesday (AFP)
He added: "I hope close engagement with the Saudi crown prince is allowing Britain to make these important points and that we are using our influence to do so."
Support for the UK and UK-backed position at the UN is reportedly weakening, and last month Russia vetoed a UK draft resolution that included a condemnation of Iran for violating the UN arms embargo on the country. This comes amid claims, supported by UN experts, that missiles used by Houthis to fire towards Riyadh came from Iran.
The UN called for a peaceful solution, it did not call for a three year bombardment which has killed thousands of people and destroyed vital infrastructure all across the country
- Andrew Smith, Campaign Against Arms Trade
However, the UN eventually passed a more limited resolution, making no mention of sanctions on Iran for supplying the missiles, amid speculation that Riyadh is likely to reject the UN route to solve the crisis.
The political row in London over the UN's role in Yemen came as bin Salman's visit to London turned to defence and security on Friday with a meeting with British Defence Minister Gavin Williamson in the afternoon. 
The meeting was expected to touch on the most contentious element of his trip: arms sales. 
"The UN called for a peaceful solution, it did not call for a three-year bombardment which has killed thousands of people and destroyed vital infrastructure all across the country," Andrew Smith, spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade told MEE.
He added: "The people of Yemen have had one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world inflicted on them, and Theresa May and her colleagues have been totally complicit in it."

More Typhoon jets on order?

Britain and Saudi Arabian officials set themselves a $90bn trade and investment target for the next decade earlier this week. It came as London looks for new post-Brexit opportunities for its service sector and the crown prince seeks to convince sceptical investors that his country is a modernising place to do business.
Nevertheless, arms remain the main component of UK-Saudi trade and the UK government has approved the export of $6.4bn in weapons since the start of the war in Yemen, despite allegations that Saudi-led forces have committed war crimes.
The meeting between bin Salman and Williamson on Friday is focused on discussions on the sale of up to 48 Typhoon fighter jets made by British firm BAE Systems - a multi-billion dollar deal which has been under discussion for some time.
BAE's Typhoon fighter jet, which Saudi Arabia has signed a new memorandum of intent to purchase (AFP)
It resulted in a memorandum of intent for Saudi Arabia to purchase the jets, a move just short of a confirmed order but a step towards finalising the lucrative transaction. 
The deal, which could be worth as much as $10bn, will be welcomed by BAE Systems, which manufactures the aircraft, as it struggles to keep the aircraft's production line in Lancashire viable.
According to a press release the firm, the memorandum aims "to finalise discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon aircraft".
The Typhoon deal was also thought to have been on the agenda when the crown prince travelled to Chequers, the prime minister's country residence, on Thursday night.
"This is a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner," BAE Systems, said in a statement. "We are committed to supporting the kingdom as it modernises the Saudi Armed Forces and develops key industrial capabilities."
Saudi Arabia already operates more than 70 Typhoon jets. They have been used extensively in the Yemen war, and the deal is likely to spark outrage among rights groups and campaigners.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK's director, said: "Selling more fighter planes to a country leading a military coalition that's already laying waste to homes, hospitals and schools in Yemen, is just adding fuel to a humanitarian fire.
"It's shocking, and shows that the Government hasn't been listening to widespread concern from the British public on this issue during the Crown Prince's controversial visit."
May's office said that during the crown prince's visit she presented bin Salman a family tree showing the Al Saud dynasty. Downing Street said the framed document was originally created by Queen Victoria's consul general in Jeddah in 1880.
That meeting came as the UK and Saudi Arabia signed more than 18 economic deals, thought to worth around $2bn, covering education, banking and pharmaceuticals.

The Brexit dimension

The deals came as a Saudi minister said the UK should look to Saudi Arabia for new trade and investment opportunities after Brexit and not a backward-looking Commonwealth.
"I would like to think that Saudis can be the pivotal link to a new partnership sphere for the UK that is perhaps not positioned in the past, as is the Commonwealth, but forward-looking, looking at the demographics of the Middle East, Africa, and Islamic world to which Saudi Arabia is central," Saudi energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, told a business conference in London on Thursday.
He added that the UK should regard the kingdom as the dominant force in the Gulf and "your gateway to Africa, one of the next frontiers".
Backed by a PR advertising blitz, the crown prince also met with the chancellor of the exchequer, Phillip Hammond, and a select group of MPs from the Conservative Middle East Council on Thursday.
He also went to Lambeth Palace to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
The Foreign Office declined to comment further on the prime minister's comments when contacted on Friday.

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Vladimir Putin decisively re-elected as Russian president – preliminary results

Incumbent Russian leader Vladimir Putin is set to secure a resounding victory in the Russian presidential election, according to partial results made public by the electoral commission.
Vladimir Putin is now leading with over 76 percent of the vote, well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off.
First-time Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin is running second with little over 12 percent, while veteran nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who first ran against Boris Yeltsin in 1991, rounds out the top three with about six percent.
None of the other five candidates is on track to receive more than two percent of the vote.
The early results are in line with exit-polls conducted by Russian polling agencies FOM, which predicted Putin would take 77 percent of the vote, and VCIOM, which forecast a final share of 73.9 percent for the current president.
Ella Pamfilova, head of the Russian Central Election Commission, has said that there were no major violations during the vote, and that only “minor and local complaints” were received.
Shortly after the first results were announced, Vladimir Putin addressed his supporters at a massive anniversary rally in Moscow’s Red Square, marking Crimea's reunification with Russia, and talked to reporters in his election campaign HQ. He thanked his backers and answered questions on the hottest political issues.
Putin was first elected to the Kremlin in 2000, and again four years later. Constitutionally barred from serving more than two consecutive terms, he did not run in 2008, the same year presidential terms were extended from four years to six years. Putin won 63.6 percent of the vote in 2012, and, if the early results are confirmed, he will now stay in his post until 2024, the year he turns 72.

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After the recent Senate elections, Pakistani media—call it “merdia” the way it indulges in fanning the fires of discord—has succumbed to depravity as Pakistani politicians go for each other’s throat and the establishment herds them around at will as the “rejoicing third party.” This unnamed party is pulling the political rug from under the feet of the dysfunctional state and is all set to booby-trap the coming June general elections. Nothing like this happens in the rest of South Asia. Pakistani self-hatred is expressed on the street where people now address each other insultingly like Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif exchanging defamations on TV.
India can get away with anything because it is not internally troubled and no terrorism radiates from it to the outside world while Pakistan faces sanctions for harboring terrorists. No matter what India does to punish Pakistan it is with the tacit approval of a world sick of Pakistan’s lack of internal sovereignty, with 60 percent of its territory without the writ of the state. The political parties are morbidly entangled in their vendettas, siding with the “third party” to bring each other’s government down. In the coming elections, the tertium gaudens (rejoicing third party) will lay down the new political chessboard of lack of joy. Wait for what comes next after unhappiness.

Attack on #polio vaccination team in #Pakistan kills 3

By Riaz Khan 
Militants have ambushed a polio vaccination team in a remote tribal region in Pakistan, killing two of the medical workers and seriously wounding another two, officials said Sunday.
The gunmen also attacked tribal police and the paramilitary Frontier Corps when they responded to the attack late Saturday, killing one paramilitary and wounding another.
Polio workers have come under attack on several occasions since it was revealed that the CIA used a polio vaccination campaign as a ruse to get information on Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. commandos in Pakistan in 2011.Those revelations fed into claims by Islamic extremists that the vaccinations are part of a Western plot against Muslims.
Pakistan is one of the only countries in the world where polio is still endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.
An official in Pakistan’s restive Mohmand Agency, Younus Khan, said two workers from the seven-member polio vaccination team went missing after the attack but later returned unharmed. He says security forces are still searching for the attackers.
Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the attack.
Khan said the bodies of the anti-polio workers were handed over to relatives and their funeral will take place later in the day.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemns missile attack on the residence of PPP leader Akhunzada Chattan in Bajaur Agency

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned missile attack on the residence of PPP leader Akhunzada Chattan in Bajaur Agency last night.

In a statement, the PPP Chairman said that lashes, bullets and bombs have failed to frighten Jiyalas in the past adding that missiles too can’t scare them.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Akhunzada Chattan is a brave Jiyala and he would continue struggle for the people of FATA and their rights vigorously.

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