US backs coalition action in Yemen

In this file photo taken on August 21, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 September 2018
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US backs coalition action in Yemen

  • Pompeo, Mattis say all steps taken to reduce civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure
  • The coalition supports the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi

WASHINGTON: Two senior US officials gave Washington’s seal of approval on Wednesday to the Saudi-led Arab Coalition’s military campaign to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had certified that coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the UAE were acting to reduce risks to civilians in their military operations.

The assessment is required by the US Congress for it to continue allowing US air tankers to refuel Saudi and UAE warplanes.

Pompeo said both countries were “undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.”

Pompeo said Washington would work closely with the coalition to ensure Saudi and UAE support for UN peace efforts and to allow unimpeded access for commercial and humanitarian relief supplies to reach Yemenis. “The Trump administration has been clear that ending the conflict in Yemen is a national security priority,” he said.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a separate statement endorsing the certification, and said the UAE and Saudi Arabia were making “every effort” to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage. Mattis had cautioned last month that US support for the coalition was “not unconditional,” and it must do “everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life, and support the UN-brokered peace process.”

The coalition supports the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which is fighting Iran-backed Houthi militias who seized control of the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

Pompeo’s assessment that the coalition is making a concerted effort to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage is correct, Fahad Nazer, a political consultant to the Saudi Embassy in Washington and an International Fellow at the National Council on US Arab Relations, told Arab News.

“I have personally attended a briefing by a coalition representative that highlighted the various measures and multiple safeguards that are in place to minimize civilian casualties,” he said.

“An objective assessment of the military operation in Yemen should confirm that these precautionary measures have been effective in minimizing collateral damage. 

“The coalition has sought and received the assistance of the US and the UK to improve targeting and reduce civilian casualties. It is also important to note that the Joint Incidents Assessments Team investigates claims of civilian casualties and the coalition has accepted its findings.

“The coalition has acknowledged that mistakes have been made during the course of the conflict and has issued statements expressing its regret for certain incidents. It has also maintained that those who do not follow its strict guidelines on targeting will be held responsible.

“And here one must draw a sharp distinction between mistakes and targeting civilians as a matter of policy. There is ample evidence that is exactly what the Houthis have done and continue to do.”


‘Malign state’ Qatar condemned for collusion in Somalia terrorism

Updated 24 July 2019
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‘Malign state’ Qatar condemned for collusion in Somalia terrorism

  • Proof of link with Al-Shabab justifies Anti-Terror Quartet’s boycott of Doha, analyst tells Arab News

JEDDAH: Qatar was accused on Tuesday of being a “malign state” after evidence emerged that Doha colluded in Islamist militant attacks in Somalia targeting the assets of other Gulf states.

A phone conversation between Khalifa Kayed Al-Muhanadi, a Qatari businessman close to Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Hassan bin Hamza Hashem, the Qatari ambassador to Somalia, show’s Doha’s involvement in Al-Shabab terrorism in the Somali port of Bosaso, which is operated by the Dubai company DP World.

“The bombings and killings, we know who is behind them,” Al-Muhanadi says in a recording of the conversation leaked to The New York Times. “Our friends were behind the last bombings.” The attacks were “intended to make Dubai people run away from there,” he said. “Let them kick out the Emiratis, so they don’t renew the contracts with them and I will bring the contract here to Doha.”

The ambassador replies: “So that’s why they are having attacks there, to make them run away.”

Qatar will do whatever it can do to unleash and support the terror ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and all the other groups that stem from it.

Salman Al-Ansari Founder, SAPRAC

US President Donald Trump has accused Qatar in the past of financing terror. However, on a visit by Sheikh Tamim to the White House this month, Trump said the emir was a friend, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin thanked Qatar for combating terrorist financing.

The world may be surprised by Doha’s sponsorship of terrorist attacks but Qatar's neighbors are not, Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, told Arab News.

It is why the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have operated a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott of Qatar since June 2017, he said.

 “Qatar will do whatever it can do to unleash and support the terror ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and all the other groups that stem from it,” he said. “It exploits any instability in any country to support terrorist militias to advance its evil interests.

“This intelligence leak surely shows that the world is fed up with the two-faced Qatari policies. I expect more leaks against Qatar in the coming days.

“The world has the right to see the full picture and to name things by their names. Qatar is a malign state and needs to be confronted with nothing but decisiveness and strength.

“Doha has been trying its best to control the Horn of Africa through terrorist groups and to allow Iran to destabilize shipping lanes in the Red Sea.”
The official Qatari response to the leaked phone conversation indicated fear, Al-Ansari said, and the “Qatari businessman” was obviously a Qatari government intelligence officer.

“If it’s true that he doesn’t represent the government, then why did the Qatari ambassador hear the news about the success of a terror operation without objecting to it?

“The Qatari government think that they can continue to fool the world as they did before. What they don’t realize is that the time is different, and the past global tolerance of Qatar's terrorism is over, now and for ever.”