UN: ‘Credible’ Evidence of Houthi Torture of Detainees

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

UN: ‘Credible’ Evidence of Houthi Torture of Detainees Sentenced to Death this Week

Friday, 12 July, 2019 – 10:45
A general view of the old city of Sanaa, Yemen November 19, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Nations human rights office appealed on Friday to the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen to review their death sentence against 30 prisoners, citing credible allegations that many were tortured during three years of politically-motivated detention.

It urged the Appellate Court in the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa, which is due to review the ruling, to take into account the serious allegations and violations of their right to a fair trial and due process in the lower court.

The specialized first instance criminal court handed down the death sentences on Tuesday, UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

Most of the 30 men are academics, students and politicians.

“At no point were they given a proper chance to present a defense,” Shamdasani said.

“There is a high likelihood that many of these charges are politically-motivated. There are very credible allegations of torture and mistreatment, our teams have been able to speak to families,” Shamdasani added.

“Any politically-motivated charges should be dismissed and international fair trial standards fully complied with,” she stated.

The government has pleaded with the international community to save the detainees.

Yemen’s Human Rights Ministry condemned in the strongest terms on Tuesday these verdicts that were based on confessions that were extracted after “brutal psychological and physical torture committed by the Houthis against the captives.”

“They culminated in a farce trial by an illegal court,” it added.

It urged the international community and organizations and United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths to intervene immediately to save them.

“The only crime they have committed is living in area held by the militias,” it said.

Amnesty International, in a statement this week, denounced what it called a “sham trial” where the 30 men faced “trump-up charges including espionage for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition”.

Saudi Arabia Issues Euro-denominated Bonds for 1st Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Issues Euro-denominated Bonds for 1st Time

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019 – 11:30
Saudi Market Tadawul. AFP file photo
Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia has issued Euro-denominated bonds, its first in that currency, after the Kingdom hired Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale as global coordinators and bookrunners for the potential new deal, while BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Samba Capital were mandated as lead managers and passive bookrunners.

The Saudi issuance of Euro-denominated bonds in tranches of eight and 20 years, depending on market conditions, comes at a time when the country was rated A1 by Moody’s and A + by Fitch Ratings.

Saudi Arabia has begun its approach to global markets by issuing bonds and sukuk in the dollar, and through the Euro-bonds, the country seeks to diversify its investor base, reduce costs and open up new markets, according to experts.

Financial expert Mohammed al-Omran explained that Saudi Arabia announced that it will target international markets and foreign currencies. He added that the euro-bonds will be relatively distant from the dollar-bonds, stressing that the goal is to diversify the currency, reduce cost and establish relations with new markets.

Omran indicated that euro’s current comparative advantage is the lower interest rates, less than 1 percent, while interest on the dollar is about 2 percent, noting that savings will be 1.25 percent per year in euros compared to the dollar.

For his part, economic expert Mohammed Al Abbas indicated that major institutions and banks are racing to enter the Saudi market which is trying to attract international investments and foreign funds, as investors seek confidence in the economy.

He stated that the rush on the Saudi market is an indication on high confidence that large companies and investors have in the Kingdom

He stressed that Saudi Arabia is interested in encouraging foreign investments and entering the European markets through Euro-bonds.

Bonds are low-risk financial instruments and can be disposed at any time, in addition that countries that issue the bonds are obliged to pay them according to the issuance date, according to economic expert Khalaf al-Shammari.

The euro market is characterized by a variety of investors from new institutions and portfolios, which analysts believe Saudi Arabia can take advantage of.

Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

Friday, 21 June, 2019 – 10:30
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Washington- Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani warned against Iran’s continued practices in the region during his meetings with US officials at the White House on Thursday.

“Iran is spreading terrorism through its Houthi agents and is using Yemen as a platform to threaten neighboring countries and international shipping corridors, and continues to smuggle weapons and support the Houthi militias,” the Yemeni minister said during a meeting with US National Security Council officials.

Eryani warned of the terrorist practices of the Iranian-backed coup militias, their promotion of sectarian terrorist ideology and the recruitment of children in schools.

He stressed that the Yemeni legitimacy “cannot accept any role of Iran in Yemen,” adding that the Iranian regime has “given our country and our people only death, destruction, and sectarian feelings.”

The Iranian minister briefed US officials on “the legitimate government’s efforts to normalize public life in liberated areas, combat terrorism and extremism, rebuild devastated villages and restore the social fabric,” which he said the militias were destroying.

He also pointed to the Saudi-sponsored rehabilitation program for children and its role in reintegrating formerly recruited children in the society.

The Yemeni minister called on the international community and the United States to exert all forms of pressure on Iran to stop its destabilizing activities in Yemen and the rest of the region.

Trump admin gave green light to nuclear permits for Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi killing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Trump admin gave green light to nuclear permits for Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi killing

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia says the approvals show “President Trump’s eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want.”
Image: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP – Getty Images file

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

Friday, 31 May, 2019 – 10:30
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Reuters
Jeddah- Mohammed Al-Ayed
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has affirmed that the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted by Saudi Arabia in attendance of Arab, Gulf, and Islamic leaders is an opportunity to address the tensed conditions in the region and avoid the breaking out of the war.

Amid the tension arising from the Iranian interventions in the region, Qureshi said that the war won’t be in the best interest of anyone, and won’t serve the region or the global economy. In fact, it would weaken the investment and increase the threat of terrorist activities, he added.

Despite all, Iran remains part of the region and can’t be removed and that’s why there should be a way to deal with it, Qureshi asserted.

As for the ballistic missiles launched by Houthis – Iran’s arm in Yemen – towards Makkah, Qureshi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that any attack against the kingdom and the Two Holy Mosques is equivalent to an attack targeting Pakistan.

Qureshi stressed that his country will be ready in case any danger threatens the Saudi territories, lauding the continuous Saudi support to Pakistan.

Commenting on the attacks against energy sources and passages in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the Pakistani FM stated that these energy sources don’t only contribute to economy and trade development on the level of Saudi Arabia but the world overall.

Further, he considered that the Iranian intention to close the Strait of Hormuz would escalate regional crises — Qureshi urged Iran to desist from escalation and to open up to diplomacy because extremist means would not be constructive.

Qureshi noted that the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, to Pakistan brought several achievements to both countries, adding that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have key roles in the Islamic world that could boost stability and security in the region.

Saudi Islamic scholar arrested over Easter bombings in Sri Lanka

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Saudi scholar arrested over Easter bombings in Sri Lanka

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

WORLD Updated: May 13, 2019 10:46 IST

Reuters
Reuters
Kattakudy, Sri Lanka
The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.(AFP FILE/ Representative Image)

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with … Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” said a police statement late on Friday.

The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people.

A police spokesman declined to provide details on the accusations.

Calls to Aliyar and his associates went unanswered. Reuters was unable to find contact details for a lawyer.

The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.

Two Muslim community sources in Kattankudy told Reuters his hardline views were partly shaped by ultra-conservative Salafi-Wahhabi texts that he picked up at the Centre for Islamic Guidance’s library around 2-3 years ago. The sources are not affiliated with the centre.

“I used to always run into him at the centre, reading Saudi journals and literature,” said one of the sources.

During that time, Zahran started criticising the practice of asking God for help, for instance, arguing that such pleas were an affront to pure Islam.

“That kind of teaching was not in Sri Lanka in 2016, unless you read it in Salafi literature,” the source added, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions in Kattankudy.

Salafism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam that advocates a return to the values of the first three generations of Muslims and is closely linked to Wahhabism, has often been criticised as the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide.

Wahhabi Islam has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is backed by its rulers, although Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed the kingdom to a more moderate form of Islam.

Other than the fact that Zahran visited the centre, the sources in Kattankudy said they did not know of any personal ties between him and Aliyar.

Aliyar founded the centre in 1990, a year after he graduated from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, in what one resident said marked a key moment in the spread of Salafi doctrine in Kattankudy. The centre was partly funded by Saudi and Kuwaiti donors, according to a plaque outside.

TROUBLEMAKER

Reuters spoke to three members of the centre’s board before Aliyar’s arrest. They asked to remain anonymous, citing security concerns amid a backlash against some Muslims.

They said Zahran was a troublemaker and that they had warned authorities about his extremist views. The members said they thought Zahran frequented the library around a decade ago, but had no recollection of him visiting recently and denied that any of its books were to blame for his views.

Funding for the center came from local donations, student fees, and private donors who were classmates of Aliyar’s in Riyadh, the centre’s sources said. Reuters was unable to immediately determine further details about the funding of the centre.

The Saudi government communications office in Riyadh did not respond to requests for comment on the funding of the centre.

(Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

First Published: May 12, 2019 14:25 IST

Australian-Lebanese Ordered Released in UAE Airliner Bomb Plot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Australian-Lebanese Ordered Released in UAE Airliner Bomb Plot

Saturday, 11 May, 2019 – 10:45
Police walk outside the international terminal as they patrol Sydney Airport. AFP file photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
The lawyer of an Australian-Lebanese dual citizen on trial for an alleged plot to bring down an Emirati passenger plane said Saturday that her client has been ordered released on bail by a Lebanese military court.

Joceline Adib al-Rai, lawyer of Amer Khayat, said the court’s decision was delivered a day earlier. Prosecutors can appeal.

Khayat has rejected the charges.

Lebanese authorities have held Khayat in detention since 2017. They have accused him of planning to blow up an Etihad airline flight that was supposed to travel from Sydney to the United Arab Emirates.

Khaled and Mahmoud, two of Khayyat’s brothers, are on trial in Australia for plotting to blow up the plane with bombs hidden inside a Barbie doll and meat grinder.

Australian authorities say Amer Khayyat had no knowledge of his brothers’ plot.

Khaled’s sentence hearing has been set for July 26. The charges carry a maximum punishment of life in prison. The jury is still deliberating a verdict for Mahmoud.

Another brother was unaware that he was carrying a bomb, disguised as a meat mincer, in his luggage, as he tried to check in at the airport, Australian police have said.

UN Welcomes Saudi, UAE Support for WFP in Yemen

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

UN Welcomes Saudi, UAE Support for WFP in Yemen

Wednesday, 8 May, 2019 – 09:00
A man carries sacks of grain he received from a distribution center in Bajil, Yemen, December 13, 2018, 2018. (Reuters)
Hodeidah – Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has welcomed a $240 million contribution from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to support the food needs of vulnerable people in Yemen during the holy month of Ramadan.

“The generous contribution will greatly help Yemenis follow their practices and traditions during this important time,” WFP said in a statement.

“WFP plans to use this contribution to provide millions of families with monthly food rations of flour, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and salt.”

On the other hand, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande said Tuesday that it is a relief that the UN has finally been given the green light to use an existing corridor to gain access to the Red Sea Mills, adding that it is very positive that the parties have taken this step.

“Securing access to the Mills has been a long, difficult and frustrating process,” she said.

Grande also stressed the importance of doing everything possible to ensure that all humanitarian partners have free, unimpeded and immediate access to people who need and deserve assistance.

“Everyone knows we need the food in the Mills. It’s now a race against time to salvage supplies that can feed 3.7 million people for a month,” she added.

The WFP, for its part, announced that a technical team led by it has gained access to the Red Sea Mills on the eastern outskirts of Hodeidah city as part of initial efforts to salvage a stock of 51,000 tons of wheat flour stored at the facility.

The Mills have been inaccessible for the last eight months due to intense fighting.

“The technical team will remain at the site to clean and service the milling equipment in preparation for the milling and eventual distribution of the wheat,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel explained.

“We will need to send more workers and technical experts to the mills in due course and send supplies to the team now working at the site.”

He noted that in order for works to continue, “ongoing safe access to the Mills, which lie close to sensitive frontline areas” is needed.

In March, the WFP distributed food to more than 10.6 million people in Yemen, the largest number ever reached in a single month.

“We are scaling up to support 12 million people in urgent need of food in the coming months. WFP Operations in Yemen are the biggest for WFP in the world,” the spokesperson added.

WFP explained on its official website that its Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla traveled to Yemen on a three-day mission.

He first traveled to Aden, where he met with the legitimate government of the country’s premier and other senior officials before heading to Sanaa, where he met UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and leaders from the Iran-backed Houthi militias, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia Nominated For ICAO Membership

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Nominated for ICAO Membership

Friday, 3 May, 2019 – 10:00
Arab Civil Aviation Organization extraordinary general assembly in Rabat. Asharq Al-Awsat
Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that the Kingdom is among Arab states nominated for membership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The voting results of the extraordinary general assembly of the Arab Civil Aviation Organization in Rabat showed that Saudi Arabia remained on the list of states seeking ICAO’s membership, GACA said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The Kingdom’s delegation in Rabat was chaired by Transport Minister Assistant Abdulhadi bin Ahmed al-Mansouri who delivered a speech expressing Saudi Arabia’s pride in its vital role in the air transport industry.

Mansouri noted that the voting results assert the Kingdom’s remarkable and influential position in the region and the world, saying the Saudi political and economic role has made it among the top 20 influential countries in the global economy.

The statement said that during the Rabat meeting, it was agreed that the Kingdom would be among the nominees for ICAO’s membership given its huge contribution to international civil aviation, and technical and financial support to ICAO in order to achieve the organization’s strategic goals.

The importance of Arab cooperation in air transport lies in joint action to unify procedures and keep ongoing communication to meet the highest safety standards for this vital sector that is a key driver for the economy in the region, read the statement.

Further, this sector plays a significant role in the economies of states and has a direct impact on progress that governments seek to achieve.

Palestinian Authority Rejects Direct Arab Support To Hamas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Palestinian Authority Rejects Direct Arab Support to Hamas

Monday, 29 April, 2019 – 08:15
Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri and Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017. (Reuters)
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat
The reconciliation between Hamas movement and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has seen no development in the past few weeks, according to informed Palestinian sources.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Fatah’s position remains unaltered and that it had informed the Egyptian leadership that there was no need for any dialogue with Hamas, but rather it should implement the reconciliation agreement of 2017.

The sources pointed out that the policy of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, will restrict the money that reaches Hamas. They indicated that the Authority does not want to keep an ATM for Hamas and do not want any Arab funds to reach the movement directly.

The funds must come through the PA, because it’s capable of employing them to provide relief to Gaza Strip. Otherwise, it will be a direct support for Hamas.

A Fatah delegation recently visited Cairo and conveyed fears to Egypt regarding the ceasefire in Gaza, especially the flow of money to Hamas. Fatah has rejected suggestions from regional countries for a meeting of Palestinian factions.

Fatah says there won’t be any meeting with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements before they recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people, and there will be no meetings regarding reconciliation.

In the context, Secretary of the Central Committee of Fatah, Major General Jibril al-Rajoub said that Hamas is required to take practical steps to end the division.

Rajoub noted that the movement should do what’s necessary to establish a national front based on fortifying the national project based on an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital within the 1967 borders and the return of refugees.

He stressed that Hamas must first remove all forms of its authority in Gaza, return the government to the Strip to carry out its duties and its responsibilities as the Palestinian national government from Rafah to Jenin.

Rajoub noted that the concept of partnership is embodied in a genuine democratic process, such as the recent elections of student councils in the universities of the West Bank.

Earlier, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he was ready to meet with Abbas in order to restore national unity in the face of the “deal of the century”.

“Hamas has no veto on any meeting that would ensure unity and end the division in order to provide elements of perseverance and confrontation against the deal of the century,” Haniyeh explained.

“Reconciliation and unity are urgent demands… We don’t want an alternative to the PLO,” he added.

Haniyeh’s remarks on the PLO were in response to previous accusations by its officials against Hamas.

PLO officials had previously said that the movement was seeking to form an alternative to the organization. It had called on all Palestinian factions to boycott a supreme body that Hamas has been trying to form on the pretext of confronting the deal of the century.

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