Yemen

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Yemen

Introduction North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border.
History Between 2200 BCE and the 6th century CE, Yemen was part of the Sabaean, Awsanian, Minaean, Qatabanian, Hadhramawtian, Himyarite, and some other kingdoms, which controlled the lucrative spice trade. It was known to the ancient Romans as Arabia Felix (“Happy Arabia”) because of the riches its trade generated. Augustus attempted to annex it, but the expedition failed. In the 3rd century and again and early seventh century, many Sabaean and Himyarite people migrated out of the land of Yemen following the destructions of the Ma’rib Dam (sadd Ma’rib) and migrated to North Africa and the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula. In the 6th century, Islamic caliphs began to exert control over the area. After the caliphate broke up, the former North Yemen came under the control of imams of various dynasties usually of the Zaidi sect, who established a theocratic political structure that survived until modern times. Egyptian Sunni caliphs occupied much of North Yemen throughout the eleventh century. By the sixteenth century and again in the nineteenth century, north Yemen was part of the Ottoman Empire, and during several periods its imams exerted control over south Yemen.

In 1839, the British occupied the port of Aden and established it as a colony in September of that year. They also set up a zone of loose alliances (known as protectorates) around Aden to act as a protective buffer. North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 and became a republic in 1962. In 1967, the British withdrew and gave back Aden to Yemen due to the extreme pressure of battles with the North and its Egyptian allies. After the British withdrawal, this area became known as South Yemen. The two countries were formally united as the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea, between Oman and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 48 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 527,970 sq km
land: 527,970 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Perim, Socotra, the former Yemen Arab Republic (YAR or North Yemen), and the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY or South Yemen)
Area – comparative: slightly larger than twice the size of Wyoming
Land boundaries: total: 1,746 km
border countries: Oman 288 km, Saudi Arabia 1,458 km
Coastline: 1,906 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: mostly desert; hot and humid along west coast; temperate in western mountains affected by seasonal monsoon; extraordinarily hot, dry, harsh desert in east
Terrain: narrow coastal plain backed by flat-topped hills and rugged mountains; dissected upland desert plains in center slope into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m
highest point: Jabal an Nabi Shu’ayb 3,760 m
Natural resources: petroleum, fish, rock salt, marble; small deposits of coal, gold, lead, nickel, and copper; fertile soil in west
Land use: arable land: 2.91%
permanent crops: 0.25%
other: 96.84% (2005)
Irrigated land: 5,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 4.1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 6.63 cu km/yr (4%/1%/95%)
per capita: 316 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: sandstorms and dust storms in summer
Environment – current issues: limited natural fresh water resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic location on Bab el Mandeb, the strait linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, one of world’s most active shipping lanes
Politics Yemen is a Presidential republic with a bicameral legislature. Under the constitution, an elected president, an elected 301-seat House of Representatives, and an appointed 111-member Shura Council share power. The president is head of state, and the prime minister is head of government. The constitution provides that the president be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates endorsed by at least fifteen members of the Parliament. The prime minister, in turn, is appointed by the president and must be approved by two thirds of the Parliament. The presidential term of office is seven years, and the parliamentary term of elected office is six years. Suffrage is universal for people age 18 and older.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first elected President in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and President of North Yemen since 1978). He was re-elected to office in September 2006. Although he had been reluctant to run again, popular demonstrations and editorials offering support in major newspapers helped persuade him to run. Saleh’s victory was marked by an election that international observers judged to be generally “free and fair”.

Parliamentary elections were held in April 2003, and the General People’s Congress (GPC) maintained an absolute majority. There was a marked decrease from previous years in election-related violence.

The constitution calls for an independent judiciary. The former northern and southern legal codes have been unified. The legal system includes separate commercial courts and a Supreme Court based in Sana’a. Since the country is an Islamic state, the Islamic Law (Sharia) is the main source for laws. Indeed, many court cases are debated according to the religious basis of law, and many judges are religious scholars as well as legal authorities. Unlike Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states, however, consumption of alcohol by non-Muslims is tolerated.

People Population: 23,822,783 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 46.2% (male 5,602,590/female 5,398,103)
15-64 years: 51.3% (male 6,212,378/female 6,009,401)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 288,501/female 311,810) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 16.8 years
male: 16.7 years
female: 16.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.453% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 42.42 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.83 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 54.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 59.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 50.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 63.27 years
male: 61.3 years
female: 65.33 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 6.32 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 12,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Yemeni(s)
adjective: Yemeni
Ethnic groups: predominantly Arab; but also Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans
Religions: Muslim including Shaf’i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shia), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu
Languages: Arabic
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 50.2%
male: 70.5%
female: 30% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 9 years
male: 11 years
female: 7 years (2005)
Education expenditures: 9.6% of GDP (2001)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Yemen
conventional short form: Yemen
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Yamaniyah
local short form: Al Yaman
former: Yemen Arab Republic [Yemen (Sanaa) or North Yemen] and People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen [Yemen (Aden) or South Yemen]
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Sanaa
geographic coordinates: 15 21 N, 44 12 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 19 governorates (muhafazat, singular – muhafazah); Abyan, ‘Adan, Ad Dali’, Al Bayda’, Al Hudaydah, Al Jawf, Al Mahrah, Al Mahwit, ‘Amran, Dhamar, Hadramawt, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahij, Ma’rib, Sa’dah, San’a’, Shabwah, Ta’izz
note: for electoral and administrative purposes, the capital city of Sanaa is treated as an additional governorate
Independence: 22 May 1990 (Republic of Yemen was established with the merger of the Yemen Arab Republic [Yemen (Sanaa) or North Yemen] and the Marxist-dominated People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen [Yemen (Aden) or South Yemen]); note – previously North Yemen became independent in November 1918 (from the Ottoman Empire) and became a republic with the overthrow of the theocratic Imamate in 1962; South Yemen became independent on 30 November 1967 (from the UK)
National holiday: Unification Day, 22 May (1990)
Constitution: 16 May 1991; amended 29 September 1994 and February 2001
Legal system: based on Islamic law, Turkish law, English common law, and local tribal customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Ali Abdallah SALIH (since 22 May 1990, the former president of North Yemen, assumed office upon the merger of North and South Yemen); Vice President Maj. Gen. Abd al-Rab Mansur al-HADI (since 3 October 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Ali Muhammad MUJAWWAR (since 31 March 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 20 September 2006 (next to be held in September 2013); vice president appointed by the president; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Ali Abdallah SALIH elected president; percent of vote – Ali Abdallah SALIH 77.2%, Faysal BIN SHAMLAN 21.8%
Legislative branch: a bicameral legislature consisting of a Shura Council (111 seats; members appointed by the president) and a House of Representatives (301 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held on 27 April 2003 (next to be held in April 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – GPC 228, Islah 47, YSP 7, Nasserite Unionist Party 3, National Arab Socialist Ba’th Party 2, independents 14
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders: General People’s Congress or GPC [Abdul-Kader BAJAMMAL]; Islamic Reform Grouping or Islah [Mohammed Abdullah AL-YADOUMI (acting)]; Nasserite Unionist Party [Abdal Malik al-MAKHLAFI]; National Arab Socialist Ba’th Party [Dr. Qasim SALAM]; Yemeni Socialist Party or YSP [Ali Salih MUQBIL]; note – there are at least seven more active political parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: Muslim Brotherhood; Women National Committee
other: conservative tribal groups
International organization participation: AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Abd al-Wahab Abdallah al-HAJRI
chancery: 2319 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 965-4760
FAX: [1] (202) 337-2017
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen A. SECHE
embassy: Sa’awan Street, Sanaa
mailing address: P. O. Box 22347, Sanaa
telephone: [967] (1) 755-2000 ext. 2153 or 2266
FAX: [967] (1) 303-182
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; similar to the flag of Syria, which has two green stars in the white band, and of Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt, which has a heraldic eagle centered in the white band
Culture Yemen is a culturally rich country with influence from many civilizations, such as the early civilization of Sheba.

Qat

Qat, also known as Khat (Catha edulis) is a large, slow growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a height of between 1 and 6 meters, in equatorial regions it may reach a height of 10 meters. This plant is widely cultivated in Yemen and is generally used for chewing. When Khat juice is swallowed, its leaf juice has a caffeine-like effect. It is deeply rooted in Yemeni culture, which it has exported to its neighbours across the Gulf of Aden, Somalia, Djibouti and, to a lesser degree, Eritrea (where it is mainly consumed by ethnic Arabs of Yemeni and Rashaida origins). Khat is chewed by men and women.

Cinema

The Yemeni film industry is in its early stages, there being only two Yemeni films as of 2008. Released in 2005, A New Day in Old Sana’a deals with a young man struggling between whether to go ahead with a traditional marriage or go with the woman he loves.

In August 2008, Yemen’s Interior Minister Mutahar al-Masri supported the launch of a new feature film to educate the public about the consequences of Islamist extremism. “The Losing Bet” was produced by Fadl al-Olfi. The plot follows two Yemeni jihadis, who return from years living abroad. They are sent home by an Al Qaeda mastermind to recruit new members and carry out deadly operations in Yemen.

Economy Economy – overview: Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported average annual growth in the range of 3-4% from 2000 through 2007. In 2008, growth dropped below 3% as the price of oil declined and the slowing global economy reduced demand for oil. Yemen’s economic fortunes depend mostly on declining oil resources, but the country is trying to diversify its earnings. In 2006 Yemen began an economic reform program designed to bolster non-oil sectors of the economy and foreign investment. As a result of the program, international donors pledged about $5 billion for development projects. A liquefied natural gas facility is scheduled to open in 2009. Yemen has limited exposure to the international financial system and no capital markets, however, the global financial crisis probably will reduce international aid in 2009.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $60.48 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $27.56 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 3.2% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $2,600 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 9.4%
industry: 52.4%
services: 38.1% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 6.494 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: note: most people are employed in agriculture and herding; services, construction, industry, and commerce account for less than one-fourth of the labor force
Unemployment rate: 35% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line: 45.2% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25.9% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 37.7 (2005)
Investment (gross fixed): 26.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $9.097 billion
expenditures: $10.55 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 31.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 18% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 18% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $3.076 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $4.526 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $2.224 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Agriculture – products: grain, fruits, vegetables, pulses, qat, coffee, cotton; dairy products, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, camels), poultry; fish
Industries: crude oil production and petroleum refining; small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods; food processing; handicrafts; small aluminum products factory; cement; commercial ship repair
Industrial production growth rate: 2.5% (2008 est.)
Electricity – production: 5.017 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 3.804 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 320,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 135,400 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 336,600 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 62,850 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 3 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 478.5 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$2.175 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $9.234 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish
Exports – partners: China 23.3%, India 20.4%, Thailand 19.1%, Japan 7.2%, UAE 5%, US 4.2% (2007)
Imports: $9.215 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: food and live animals, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports – partners: UAE 15.1%, China 11.6%, US 7.8%, Saudi Arabia 7.1%, Kuwait 5.3%, Germany 4.8% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $2.3 billion (2003-07 disbursements)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $8.306 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $6.472 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Currency (code): Yemeni rial (YER)
Currency code: YER
Exchange rates: Yemeni rials (YER) per US dollar – 199.76 (2008 est.), 199.14 (2007), 197.18 (2006), 192.67 (2005), 184.78 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 968,300 (2006)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 2.978 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: since unification in 1990, efforts have been made to create a national telecommunications network
domestic: the national network consists of microwave radio relay, cable, tropospheric scatter, GSM and CDMA mobile-cellular telephone systems; fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity remains low by regional standards
international: country code – 967; landing point for the international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); satellite earth stations – 3 Intelsat (2 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 2 Arabsat; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and Djibouti
Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 1, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 1.05 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 3 (including one Egypt-based station that broadcasts in Yemen); plus several repeaters (2007)
Televisions: 470,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .ye
Internet hosts: 167 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 320,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 50 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 17
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 33
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 96 km; liquid petroleum gas 22 km; oil 1,367 km (2008)
Roadways: total: 71,300 km
paved: 6,200 km
unpaved: 65,100 km (2005)
Merchant marine: total: 4
by type: cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 13 (North Korea 2, Moldova 1, Panama 6, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Sierra Leone 2, unknown 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Aden, Hudaydah, Mukalla
Transportation – note: the International Maritime Bureau reports offshore waters in the Gulf of Aden are high risk for piracy; numerous vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crew, passengers, and cargo are held for ransom
Military Military branches: Army (includes Republican Guard), Navy (includes Marines), Yemen Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Jamahiriya al Yemeniya; includes Air Defense Force) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: voluntary military service program authorized in 2001; 2-year service obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 5,080,038
females age 16-49: 4,852,555 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 3,733,704
females age 16-49: 3,773,626 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 273,624
female: 263,402 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures: 6.6% of GDP (2006)
Military – note: a Coast Guard was established in 2002
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: Saudi Arabia has reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the fully demarcated border with Yemen to stem illegal cross-border activities
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 91,587 (Somalia) (2007)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Has Arrived In London

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 0:45
Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Downing Street to meet Theresa May

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in London March 7 for a three-day visit to the United Kingdom as part of his first official overseas tour. 

Mohammed bin Salman, the divisive crown prince of Saudi Arabia, arrived in London on Wednesday for a three-day state visit. The 32-year-old was greeted at the airport by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, a rare honor for a man not yet head of state.

Later, he will dine with Prince Charles and Prince William — two British royals who are, like him, next in line to the throne, although they hold a small fraction of his political power.

But the pomp and the red carpet notwithstanding, Mohammed’s visit already has turned into a bitter PR battle between those who support the moves he is making for Saudi Arabia and those who call him a “war criminal.”

In some cases, the battle veered into absurd territory, such as when pro-Saudi advertisements were placed next to online articles criticizing the crown prince.

Although Mohammed has pushed through some liberal policies at home — including his dramatic decision to allow women to drive — and he is viewed as a key economic ally for a post-Brexit Britain, his foreign policy is controversial in London.

Notably, the crown prince is the architect of a Saudi-led intervention against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. Critics say Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate use of force in that conflict has had disastrous consequences for Yemeni civilians, exacerbating what may be the worst humanitarian disaster on earth.


Vans bearing messages of welcome for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are parked in Whitehall in central London on March 7. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/getty Images)

According to U.N. estimates from last year, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015. More than 3 million people have been displaced, the United Nations estimated, and 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid.

Awkwardly for Johnson and Prime Minister Theresa May, Britain is a key military supplier of Saudi Arabia. According to one estimate, sales of British weapons to Saudi Arabiaincreased almost 500 percent, to 4.6 billion pounds ($6.4 billion), after 2015, when the Saudi intervention in Yemen began. Saudi Arabia is now the top destination for British-manufactured weapons.

A poll commissioned by the Campaign Against Arms Trade and carried out by Populus found that 6 percent of the British public supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia; 37 percent opposed Mohammed’s visit to Britain.

Amid this public mistrust, advertisements praising Mohammed’s reforms have been blanketing London — in an apparent bid to woo Britons. The advertisements have appeared on billboards, on taxis, on trucks and in newspapers.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Feels like arriving in – when entering London from the M4 & M40 one is greeted by the “beloved leader” @AEISaudi & the lobby try to turn around the kingdom’s image in a not so subtle way @alekhbariyatv

I count one full-page and three half-page “yay for Saudi Arabia” ads in today’s @FT

AEI Saudi, the firm behind the advertisements, is a consulting business that was registered in Riyadh in 2002. In a blog post, the firm’s founder highlighted the significant changes he has seen in recent years in Saudi Arabia, such as a new inclusion of Saudi women in public life.

“If there is one individual who has been the driving force behind these changes it is ‘MbS’, as he is often known,” wrote Adam Hosier, the British-born founder of the firm. “He has faced resistance of course, both internally and from powers outside the Kingdom, yet he has not faltered.”

But these were not the only advertisements greeting the crown prince. In central London, buses were emblazoned with messages accusing Mohammed of being a “war criminal,” while social media users used hashtags to let the Saudi royal know that he was “not welcome.”

Activists from Avaaz, a global activism group, parked a van outside Parliament and had two figures dressed as Mohammed and May drop off child-size body bags. A sign on the van said May should tell the crown prince: “Stop the slaughter, start peace talks!”


Activists from Avaaz stage a protest outside Parliament timed to coincide with the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in London on March 7. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Save the Children, a London-based charity, also highlighted the plight of children in Yemen by placing outside Parliament a small statue of a child standing in rubble and staring at the sky.

Meanwhile, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK has scheduled a protest outside Downing Street, due to start at 5 p.m. local time.

Join us outside Downing Street from 5pm this evening to oppose the Crown Prince and all UK arms sales to his regime. http://aje.io/24aln 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman begins official UK visit

As ruling party welcomes Gulf royal, protesters and opposition politicians call on prime minister to challenge kingdom.

aljazeera.com

It is unclear who is winning the PR battle — other than advertising agencies, of course. The pro-Saudi messages were certainly mocked: Some noted that the advertisements looked better suited to a “sleazy gentlemen’s club” and pointed out that online ads praising Mohammed had appeared next to articles about Saudi corruption.

These adverts for the Saudi Crown Prince are everywhere! Even on articles about Saudi corruption in the Guardian. Cc @claytonswisher.

Many of the billboards welcoming the crown prince appeared along the motorways that connect Heathrow Airport to central London — suggesting that Mohammed may have been the intended audience.

Ads praising MBS all along the M4 this morning. Are they targeted at Brits, or at the Crown Prince’s motorcade?

However, the protests outside Parliament seem to have resonated inside Westminster. During the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday afternoon, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn criticized Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and accused May of “colluding” in suspected war crimes in Yemen.

“The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country,” May responded, as opposition lawmakers shouted “shame.”

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of “mansplaining” by the Prime Minister as he raised concerns of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

May later said that she would raise the issue of human rights with the crown prince when she met him and that she had spoken with him about humanitarian concerns in Yemen during a visit to Riyadh in December.

The controversy over Saudi Arabia puts May in a tight spot politically. Britain is looking for bigger trading partners as it leaves the European Union, and broadening its economic relationship with Saudi Arabia would help it do that. The two nations are planning to create a joint Strategic Partnership Council that could lead to Saudi investment of up to 100 billion pounds ($139 billion) in the next 10 years, according to the BBC.

However, the visit is also important for the Saudi crown prince, who is seeking foreign investment as part of Vision 2030, his ambitious plan to reform his country. There are also hopes that the long-awaited public listing of the state oil firm Saudi Aramco might take place on the London Stock Exchange.

 1:34
Saudi Arabia loosens rules around women driving, gender segregation

As Saudi Arabia tries to shake a conservative image, it’s increasing entertainment events and backing off on gender-based rules in 2018.

Mohammed also is planning to visit the United States, home to the New York Stock Exchange, for an investment-focused visit set to start March 19.

Islamic Civil War Is Going On Right Now: Which Side Is Your Government Fighting On

Islamic Civil War Is Going On Right Now: Which Side Is Your Government Fighting On

 

Look at all the different wars going on right now within countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, within the Islamic World. ISIS helped bring this obvious situation to light when they set up their own country within the long understood boundaries of the Islamic Shiite countries of Syria and Iraq. As most folks in the wired world know there are two main divisions within Islam, Sunni and Shiite. ISIS is a Sunni group and they seem intent on following the letter of their Islamic laws as they understand them. Groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Boko Haram as well as Nations like Saudi Arabia are also Sunni. If I remember the stats I read while back in school 8-10 yrs ago they said about 80% of the people who believe in Islam, are Sunni, 20% Shiite. Countries like Syria and Iran as well as Terrorist groups like Hezbollah are Shiite. All of the Islamic governments military have mixtures of both in their ranks. It is very plain in Islam that Religion is far more important to many soldiers and ordinary people than their allegiance to a National Flag. If you are a soldier in a combat situation and you totally believe that at least one in five of your comrades will either shoot you in the back, stab you in your sleep, or run away when those seeking to kill you approach, it makes it a very difficult thing to keep a stiff upper lip.

 

 

In the country of Yemen on the southern tip of Saudi Arabia there is a proxy war going on right now. A few months ago a Shiite militia in Yemen took over control of the Sunni nation’s government. This Shiite  militia is of course backed by the Shiite powerhouse Iran. Yemen and it’s people are the fodder in this game of thrones. Who will be the winner? Just how far will this fighting continue? This is pretty much a show case of hatred verses hatred. They both want Islam to rule the Earth for Allah by his will for his will. One of their problems is that they can not stand, or in many cases, even tolerate each others existence.

 

Back to the ISIS situation, the American Government and some of our allies are bombing ISIS locations throughout large swaths of the Shiite countries of Syria and Iraq. All Countries Governments want to govern stable countries from their insides so that they can withstand their enemies from outside their gates. When the Royal Saudi family see time and again the American Government policies turn more in the favor of Shiite Governments the more reason they must have to not trust in us (our Government). Now back to my original question, which side of this Islamic Civil War is your Government fighting on? If your country’s leadership is spending money or blood to help either side, the leadership of these Religion first Governments and groups are being given more fuel for their hatred of us and our Governments. Everything and everyone is looked at in the scope of their Islamic views.

 

Hate against hate, whichever one wins, they have the same plan, conquer the world for Allah. Folks, that means simply, submit to the will of Allah, or die. There is no intelligence in it for anyone to deny that the world is not right now in the beginning stages of a World at war. World War 3 has started friends, the world that we all grew up in is on its last breaths. All this hatred, so sickening, and so sad, and so very real.

Houthi missile attack on Riyadh sparks global outrage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ARAB NEWS’)

 

SAUDI ARABIA

Houthi missile attack on Riyadh sparks global outrage

The attempted attack comes just weeks after Houthi militias launched a missile at Riyadh on November 4, targeting King Khalid International Airport. The missile was downed by Patriot air defense batteries. (AFP)

DUBAI: A number of countries and organizations have condemned the launch of a ballistic missile by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen aimed at Riyadh.
Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile toward Riyadh on Tuesday, targeting the Al-Yamamah Royal Palace in the Saudi capital. Royal Saudi Air Defense forces intercepted the missile and shot it down and prevented damage.
The attempted attack comes just weeks after the group in Yemen launched a missile at Riyadh on Nov. 4, targeting King Khalid International Airport.
A UN Security Council-appointed panel confirmed the missile was manufactured in Iran, along with three other missiles fired from Yemen toward the Kingdom this year.
US
The United States strongly condemned the missile attack on Riyadh. In a statement issued by US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert, it was confirmed that the US remains deeply disturbed by aggressive Houthi actions supported by Iran’s provision of advanced weapons, which threaten regional security and prolong the Yemen conflict.
“The United States calls on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to stop arming and enabling the Houthis’ violent actions against Yemen’s neighbors, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Nauert added.
Italy
Italy also condemned the launch of the ballistic missile. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alvano said in a statement today: “This terrorist act constitutes a threat to regional peace and stability and undermines the prospects for a negotiated and comprehensive solution to the crisis.”
UAE
The UAE condemned the missile launch and said that the attack drew attention to the dangerous and negative role played by Iran in supporting the militia and its insistence on continuing its hostile practices by providing the Houthi group with ballistic missiles that threaten peace and security in the region.
In a statement, the UAE emphasized its full support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any party that tries to threaten its security or harms peace and stability in its territory, while reaffirming the organic link between the security of Saudi Arabia and the security of the UAE.
The UAE reiterated its commitment to the Arab Coalition to achieve security and stability in Yemen.
Jordan
Jordan on Tuesday condemned the Houthi’s attempt to target Saudi Arabia and denounced it as a belligerent act.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Mohammed Al-Momani voiced Jordan’s unwavering support for Saudi Arabia in its efforts to counter recurrent aggressions initiated by the Houthi faction.
Jordan, he said, unequivocally backs Saudi maneuvers to reach a peaceful settlement to the Yemeni crisis.
Bahrain
In a statement issued by Bahrain News Agency, the Kingdom of Bahrain stressed that it stands by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any attempt to threat its security and stability.
It renewed its commitment to support the legitimate Yemeni government headed by President Abdu Rabbo Mansur Hadi through participation in the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen.
Morocco
The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement on Wednesday that the Kingdom of Morocco strongly condemned the missile launched at the city of Riyadh, while renewing its solidarity with Saudi Arabia against any act that harms the safety of its territory and the peace of its inhabitants.
Morocco also expressed its deep concern at the escalation, which further deepens the Yemeni crisis due to its negative impact on the stability of the region.
Djibouti
Ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dyauddin Said Bamakhrama condemned the act.
Bamakhrama expressed the solidarity of the Republic of Djibouti with Saudi Arabia and added that the country considers any act of aggression against Saudi Arabia as an act of aggression against Djibouti.
Lebanon
Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned the act in a released statement, saying: “The repeated targeting of Saudi territory by missile attacks from Yemeni territory not only threatens the security of the Kingdom and the safety of its people, but also exposes the region to serious dangers and exacerbates existing divisions and conflicts.
“We strongly condemn such attacks,” he said. “We stress that these aggressive methods must be abandoned and we must refrain from policies that fuel conflicts and conduct dialogue through solving the intractable problems.”
Organization of Islamic Cooperation
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned the missile launch.
OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen stressed that the continued launch of ballistic missiles toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirms that Houthi militias are continuing their hostile approach that aims at destabilizing the security and stability of Saudi Arabia.
The secretary general reiterated the OIC’s support and solidarity with Saudi Arabia in all actions and measures it takes to maintain its security and stability.
Meanwhile, the internationally-recognized government of Yemen also strongly condemned the Iranian-backed Houthi’s targeting of the city of Riyadh.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement: “This aggressive behavior of targeting Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles reflects the extent of the danger that this extremist group has become and the level to which Iranian influence has reached it, which seeks to be used to harm regional and Arab security after helping them to cause massive destruction in all the Yemeni cities and towns that were invaded by the militias.”
The statement called on the international community and the UN Security Council to take strict measures against the Houthis and called for them to be considered as a terrorist organization.

Yemen rebel ballistic missile ‘intercepted over Riyadh’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Yemen rebel ballistic missile ‘intercepted over Riyadh’

Image circulated by Houthi-aligned Almasirah network purportedly showing Burkan 2 ballistic missilesImage copyrightALMASIRAH
Image captionThe Houthi movement unveiled the Burkan 2 missile in February 2017

The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi rebels says it has intercepted a ballistic missile near Riyadh, Saudi state media report.

Witnesses in the Saudi capital posted pictures on social media showing a cloud of smoke in the air, and there were no reports of any damage.

The Houthi movement’s al-Masirah TV said rebel fighters had fired a Burkan-2 missile at the al-Yamama Palace.

Last month, a similar missile came close to hitting Riyadh’s airport.

Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with the missile.

Iran has denied arming the Houthi movement, which has been fighting a war against Yemen’s government and the Saudi-led coalition since 2015.

A report on al-Masirah’s website cited the Houthis’ Missile Forces as announcing the launch of a Burkan-2 missile on Tuesday afternoon.

The missile targeted “a meeting of the leadership of the Saudi regime in al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh”, it said.

The palace is the main headquarters of the king’s office and the royal court.

Minutes later, Saudi state-run al-Ikhbariya TV said a missile had been intercepted south of the capital.

Videos and photos posted online showed smoke resulting from the interception.

One clip posted by a man who said he was in the Olaya district shows a white cloud above the city. The sound of an explosion can then be heard.

Map showing distance between rebel-held Yemen and Riyadh

France Adopting Biased Stance on Regional Crises: Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TASNIM NEWS AGENCY OF IRAN)

 

France Adopting Biased Stance on Regional Crises: Iran

News ID: 1576462 Service: Politics

بهرام قاسمی

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi slammed French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for his recent anti-Tehran remarks and said the western European country has a “one-sided and biased” stance on crises facing the Middle East region.

Qassemi made the remarks on Thursday in response to comments made by Le Drian, who earlier in the day expressed concern about what he called Iran’s “hegemonic” intentions in the Middle East.

At a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir during a trip to Saudi Arabia, Le Drian said, “I’m thinking specifically about Iran’s ballistic program.”

In reply, Qassemi said, “Unfortunately, it seems that France has a one-sided and biased view of the crises and humanitarian catastrophes in the Middle East.”

This view only exacerbates regional conflicts, “whether intentionally or unintentionally,” he added.

The Iranian spokesman also stressed the need for stability and security in the region and advised leaders of France and other nations to take a “realistic and responsible” stance on the conflicts.

Qassemi also pointed to arms sales by “trans-regional countries” to Middle Eastern governments, including those used in Saudi Arabia’s ongoing military aggression against Yemen and said the western support has only led to “more instability and insecurity” in the region.

Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by the coalition for more than two years but Riyadh has reached none of its objectives in Yemen so far.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

Over 14,000 Yemenis, including thousands of women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly military campaign.

US Air Force official: Missile targeting Saudis was Iranian

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

US Air Force official: Missile targeting Saudis was Iranian

  • Iran manufactured the ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite rebels toward the Saudi capital, says the top U.S. Air Force official in the Mideast.
  • Saudi Arabia long has accused Iran of giving weapons to the Shiite rebels and their allies, though Tehran has just as long denied supplying them.
  • “There have been Iranian markings on those missiles,” Harrigian told journalists. “To me, that connects the dots to Iran.”

A still image taken from a video distributed by Yemen's pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station on November 5, 2017, shows what it says was the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh's King Khaled Airport on Saturday.

Houthi Military Media Unit | Reuters
A still image taken from a video distributed by Yemen’s pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station on November 5, 2017, shows what it says was the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh’s King Khaled Airport on Saturday.

Iran manufactured the ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite rebels toward the Saudi capital and remnants of it bore “Iranian markings,” the top U.S. Air Force official in the Mideast said Friday, backing the kingdom’s earlier allegations.

The comments by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who oversees the Air Force’s Central Command in Qatar, further internationalizes the yearslong conflict in Yemen — the Arab world’s poorest country.

Saudi Arabia long has accused Iran of giving weapons to the Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies, though Tehran has just as long denied supplying them.

“There have been Iranian markings on those missiles,” Harrigian told journalists at a news conference in Dubai ahead of the Dubai Air Show. “To me, that connects the dots to Iran.”

There was no immediate reaction from Tehran.

Saudi Arabia says it shot down the missile Nov. 4 near Riyadh’s international airport, the deepest yet to reach into the kingdom. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry later said investigators examining the remains of the rocket found evidence proving “the role of Iranian regime in manufacturing them.” It did not elaborate, though it also mentioned it found similar evidence after a July 22 missile launch. French President Emmanuel Macron similarly this week described the missile as “obviously” Iranian.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement Tuesday that the July launch involved an Iranian Qiam-1, a liquid-fueled, short-range Scud missile variant. Iran used a Qiam-1 in combat for the first time in June when it targeted Islamic State group militants in Syria over twin militant attacks in Tehran.

Harrigian declined to offer any specifics on what type of missile U.S. officials believed it was, nor did he show any images of the debris. He also didn’t explain how Iran evaded the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition, which intensified after the missile targeting Riyadh.

“How they got it there is probably something that will continue to be investigated over time,” the lieutenant general said. “What has been demonstrated and shown based on the findings of that missile is that it had Iranian markings on it. That in itself provides evidence of where it came from.”

The Houthis have described using Burkan-2 or “Volcano” Scud variants in their recent attacks, including the one Nov. 4. Those finless missiles are reminiscent of the Qiam, wrote Jeremy Binnie of Jane’s Defense Weekly in a February analysis.

“The Burkan-2 is likely to heighten suspicions that Iran is helping Yemen’s rebel forces to develop their ballistic missile capabilities,” Binnie wrote.

Adding to that suspicion is the fact that Yemen’s missile forces previously never had experience in disassembling and rebuilding the weapons, said Michael Knights, a fellow at The Washington Institute For Near East Policy who previously worked in Yemen.

It is “not a stretch to believe that Tehran is supporting the Houthi missile program with technical advice and specialized components,” Knights wrote in an analysis Thursday. “After all, the Houthis have rapidly fielded three major new missile systems in less than two years while under wartime conditions and international blockade.”

The U.S. already is involved in the war in Yemen and has launched drone strikes targeting the local branch of al-Qaida, though it stopped offering targeting information under the Obama administration over concerns about civilian casualties. That prohibition continues today, though the Air Force continues to refuel warplanes in the Yemen theater and offers support in managing airspace over the country, Harrigian said. The Saudi-led coalition also uses American-made bombs and ordinance in its attacks.

Yemen long has had ballistic missiles, dating back to the 1970s when Yemen was split between the socialist South Yemen and North Yemen. After unification in 1990 and a later civil war, Yemen largely moved its ballistic missile stockpile to a mountain base in Sanaa, the capital. It also purchased more from North Korea.

When the Houthis seized Sanaa in September 2014, their allied fighters also held control of the ballistic missiles. The Yemeni military was widely believed to possess around 300 Scud missiles at the time, though exact figures remain unknown.

The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 on the side of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. It then attacked the ballistic missile base in April 2015, touching off massive explosions that killed several dozen people. Saudi Arabia implied at the time that the Scud arsenal in Yemen had been seriously degraded, if not entirely destroyed, as a result of the airstrikes.

It soon would become clear that wasn’t the case. In June 2015, the rebels fired their first ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia near the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait. In the time since, Yemen’s rebels have fired over 70 ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies’ missile defense project.

For its part, Iran long has denied offering any arms to Yemen, though it has backed the Houthis and highlighted the high civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign of airstrikes.

But others in Iran have been coy about the ballistic missiles in Yemen. Mehdi Taeb, an influential hard-line cleric who is a brother to the intelligence chief of the hard-line Revolutionary Guard, said in April that Iran tried three times to send missiles to Yemen. The Guard, answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, oversees Iran’s missile program.

“We did it one time via an airplane, one time via a Navy boat and one time with a ship,” Taeb said in an online video.

The cleric said ultimately the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the transfers stopped over negotiations on the nuclear deal with world powers, without offering a specific time for the attempted shipments.

“They said come back because the Americans said, ‘If you send missiles to Yemen, we will end the negotiations,'” Taeb said.

Saudi Arabia: 24 Hours That Have Shaken The Middle East

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A resignation, detentions and missiles: 24 hours that shook the Middle East

Story highlights

  • Weekend’s events serve as an opening salvo for a new period in the region’s crisis-ridden history, analysts say
  • They represent an escalation in a years-long proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran

(CNN)When 32-year-old Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman rose to power two years ago, many predicted that change was afoot. The events of November 4 have shown that change would not just be swift, but also seismic, extending unremittingly beyond the kingdom’s boundaries.

A 24-hour sequence of political bombshells began on Saturday afternoon, when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, blindsided his country’s political establishment. Hours later, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency reported that the country’s military had intercepted a Yemen-borne ballistic missile over Riyadh. Even as images of the blast were flashing on TV sets around the region, similarly dramatic news began to trickle in: Some of Saudi Arabia’s most high-profile princes and businessmen were being sacked and detained in an anti-corruption drive led by bin Salman.
The events serve as an opening salvo for a new period in the region’s crisis-ridden history, analysts say. They represent an escalation in a years long proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, threatening to activate new fronts in the region, with the Saudi show of force beginning with a sweeping consolidation of power from within.
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On Friday, ISIS’ last strongholds in Iraq and Syria fell. It marked a major milestone in a fight that saw archrivals converge on the extremist group until its so-called caliphate was on its last legs. On Saturday, regional powerhouses appear to have trained their sights on one another.
“I think the end of ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, does not really mean the end of geostrategic struggles,” London School of Economics Professor Fawaz Gerges told CNN’s George Howell.
“On the contrary, the dismantling of the so-called caliphate will basically intensify the geostrategic struggles between the pro-Iranian camp led by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and its allies in the region, including the United States.”

A resignation sets the stage

On Friday evening, Lebanon’s Saad Hariri was summoned to the Saudi capital. It was his second visit to the country in a week. Hariri is a dual Saudi-Lebanese citizen and the regional powerhouse is widely seen as his political patron.
Just a week before, it appeared the Prime Minister had averted a major crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. He had met with the Crown Prince and outspoken Saudi Minister Thamer al-Sabhan, appeasing their fears about the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has members in his Cabinet.
“A long and fruitful meeting with my brother Prime Minister Saad Hariri. We’ve agreed on many issues that concern the good people of Lebanon. God willing, the best is yet to come,” Sabhan wrote in a tweet.
The meeting came on the heels of a series of tweets in which Sabhan chastised the Lebanese government for its inclusion of Hezbollah. Hariri appeared to have defused tensions with his visit.
Lebanese MP Yassin Jaber, a member of a pro-Hezbollah parliamentary bloc, told CNN that he met with Hariri just as he returned from Saudi Arabia, and described the premier as cheery and in a “joking” mood.
But when Hariri returned to Saudi Arabia the second time, it was an altogether different matter.
It would be the first time a Lebanese premier submitted his resignation from outside the country. Multiple local media reported that nearly all Hariri’s closest aides were caught unawares.
“Over the past decades, Hezbollah has unfortunately managed to impose a fait accompli in Lebanon by the force of its weapons, which it alleges is a resistance weapon,” Hariri said in his resignation speech.
“I want to tell Iran and its followers that they are losing their interferences in the Arab nation affairs. Our nation will rise just as it did before and the hands that want to harm it will be cut,” he said in remarks apparently aimed at Hezbollah, which he shared a coalition government with.
Hariri’s resignation spells the collapse of a 30-member government of national unity that saw Saudi-backed Hariri fill the post of prime minister, and Hezbollah-backed Michel Aoun occupies the presidency. That government, analysts say, was one of the byproducts of the Obama administration’s landmark Iran nuclear deal.
“With this arrangement, we saw some sort of appeasement where we saw mutual steps from the US and Iran in improving relations and lowering tensions in various areas,” said Riad Kahwaji, director of Institute for Near East and Gulf Military.
The period marked a brief time of stability, in which Lebanon seemed to have steered clear of regional fault-lines.
“With (Hariri’s) resignation yesterday, this arrangement has come to an end and we are back to an escalation between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the Lebanese front. Lebanon is back in the arena of the showdown between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“Everyone in Lebanon is holding tight and worried … we’re seeing now that we may again be engulfed in conflict,” said Jaber.

Riyadh intercepts ballistic missiles

Hariri’s resignation triggered a crescendo of war drums. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the remarks were a “wake-up call” to “take action” against Iran. Saudi Minister Sabhan promptly tweeted: “The hands of treachery and aggression must be cut off,” echoing Hariri’s threats against Hezbollah.
Just hours later, Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched a ballistic missile targeting King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital. Saudi forces intercepted the missile over northeast Riyadh, the Saudi Ministry of Defense said, but the Houthis hailed it as a “success” that “shook the Saudi capital.”
The attack was conducted using a Yemeni-made, long-range missile called the Burqan 2H, the rebels said. The missile launch was the first time the heart of the Saudi capital has been attacked.
The Saudi-led coalition accused a regional state of providing material support to the Houthi rebels, saying the firing of a ballistic missile at Riyadh “threatens the security of the Kingdom and regional and international security,” according to a statement carried by Saudi state-TV al-Ekbariya.
The coalition didn’t name the country. Saudi Arabia has been fighting a proxy war in Yemen against Iran, which it accuses of arming the Houthi rebels.
Analysts dubbed this a “major escalation” in the Yemeni war.
“This is a major escalation and will have tremendous implications on the situation in Yemen itself, because Saudi Arabia now feels extremely the urge to retaliate against the Houthi movement that controls the government in Sanaa,” said Gerges.
Gerges added that combined with the political rupture in Lebanon, the ballistic missile attack spells an outbreak of tensions “throughout the region.”

Saudi Arabia wages war within and without

Saudi Arabia was still putting out the fires caused by the missile attack when state TV announced the onset of an anti-corruption crackdown led by the crown prince. Over 17 princes and top officials were arrested on graft charges, according to a list obtained by CNN and cited by a senior royal court official.
The list includes billionaire business magnate Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which holds stakes in global companies such as Citigroup, Twitter, Apple and News Corp.
The list also includes the formal head of the royal court Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi media mogul Waleed Al-Ibrahim and Prince Turki Bin Nasser.
“Some of the wealthiest figures in the Arab world are in apprehension today,” said military analyst Riad Kahwaji.
“This is unprecedented. We’re seeing it for the first time and it’s definitely causing shock waves across the region.”
Reportedly, the detainees are being held at the lavish Ritz-Carlton hotel. “I think there’s a lovely irony in that many of these corrupt deals happened at the Ritz-Carlton and now these guys are locked up there,” said historian Robert Lacey, who wrote two books about the kingdom.
“In historical terms, what we’ve seen in the last few months is nothing short of revolutionary,” said Lacey. “I’ve been waiting for 40 years for these things to happen, and they happened in four months.”
Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign of “two fronts,” as analysts have dubbed it, is being met by cheers and apprehension. But there is near consensus that these are uncharted waters, and the results will be dramatic.

 

 

Netizen Report: Voices of Yemen’s ‘Forgotten War’ Speak Out, Despite Legal Barriers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Netizen Report: Voices of Yemen’s ‘Forgotten War’ Speak Out, Despite Legal Barriers

An airstrike in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in May 2015. Photo by Ibrahem Qasim via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser was awarded this year’s International Free Press Award for her work covering the conflict in Yemen despite the many obstacles faced by journalists in the country. But Nasser, who also holds Swedish citizenship, was nearly unable to attend the awards ceremony in New York in person, because of the US travel ban on Yemeni nationals.

After three applications and many letters in support of her application, Nasser finally obtained her visa from the US Embassy in Stockholm, where she resides.

On Twitter, she remarked:

I never really had faith in the power of media & public opinion as I have today. Makes me think of people who don’t enjoy my high media profile. This is why, we need to get the tragedy in Yemen as well-known as hell so we can all help pushing an end for it!

While Nasser has done much of reporting from her home in Sweden, Yemeni journalists working on the ground face much graver obstacles.

Among them is political commentator and writer Hisham Al-Omeisy, who was detained by Houthi rebels without explanation in August 2017. This week, it was reported that Al-Omeisy was arrested on charges related to his correspondence with US-based organizations.

Al-Omeisy has been actively tweeting about the humanitarian crisis and violations committed by both warring parties in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. He also has analyzed and spoken about the conflict to international media including the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and NPR.

For more than two years, a coalition of Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former authoritarian president Ali Abdullah Saleh (who was removed from power following street protests in 2011) have been fighting to seize power from the internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Hadi’s government is also supported by a Saudi-led airstrike campaign.

Journalists and media covering the conflict face risks from all warring parties, making it difficult for Yemenis and the outside world to get information on what’s already been described as a “forgotten war”. Placing restrictions on key voices like those of Nasser and Al-Omeisy only exacerbates the situation.

#Istanbul10 human rights defenders released pending trial

The Turkish court in Istanbul conditionally released eight of the ten human rights defenders on trial who were arrested in July 2017 on accusations of “membership in a terrorist organization” while attending an information management workshop. Among the defendants was Idil Eser, the director of Amnesty International’s Turkey chapter. In their court testimony, multiple defendants explained that they had never even heard of the terror organizations that Turkish public prosecutors accused them of supporting.

In the days leading up to the trial, netizens tweeted in support of the #istanbul10 using the hashtag #FreeRightsDefenders. The group is expected to reappear before the court on November 22.

Pakistani political workers arrested under Electronic Crimes Act

Two political party workers were arrested by the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency, for allegedly writing posts critical of government and state institutions. The workers, who are affiliated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) party, have been charged under the penal code along with multiple sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), which carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Ironically, the PML-N party was responsible for pushing through the controversial PECA law, despite opposition from digital rights advocates. The PML-N has been engaged in a rift with Pakistan’s powerful military establishment since August 2017, when the Supreme Court disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif following a corruption inquiry into his family’s offshore wealth, sparked by the 2016 release of the Panama Papers. The Ministry of Information Technology, which was instrumental in pushing the electronic crimes law through, now admits that it has no oversight mechanism in place and the law is being misused.

Other political workers and journalists have previously been interrogated and arrested under different sections of the law as well, an indication that authorities may be using the law as a silencing tool.

Palestinian man arrested due to poor translation on Facebook

A Palestinian construction worker was arrested by Israeli police after posting a picture of himself with a bulldozer and inserting the caption, in Arabic, “good morning.” The post was erroneously translated (into Hebrew) by Facebook as “attack them.” The man has since been released, and Facebook said it is investigating the issue.

Kuwait’s Constitutional Court rejects DNA law on privacy grounds

Kuwait’s DNA law was struck down by the Constitutional Court in a decision that is being lauded as a positive step for the protection of citizens’ privacy. The law — which required all Kuwaiti citizens, residents and visitors to provide DNA samples to authorities for storage in a database operated by the Interior Ministry — was passed following a 2015 suicide bombing that killed 27 people. Anyone who refused to comply with the law faced one year in prison, a fine, and sanctions that could include canceling their passports. The emir requested the law be revised to “safeguard people’s privacy.” It is likely that Parliament will amend it so that only suspected criminals are asked to give their DNA.

Need to prove your loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party? There’s an app for that.

Apps designed by the Chinese Communist Party hit China’s Apple and Android app stores surrounding the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party. Estimates of the number of CCP apps range from dozens to up to 400, with many app developers building party apps for local party branches and party organizations. Among the apps is Smart Red Cloud, which “aims to use artificial intelligence to educate and evaluate party members” through ideology tutorials, chat functions and party-related activity notifications.

The apps disseminate information and enable the CCP to monitor and evaluate party members’ political orientation. At least one state-owned company, the China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group, ranks party members on a monthly and weekly basis in response to scores on tests of party knowledge, penalizing users who perform poorly and rewarding those who perform well.

Chelsea Manning turned away at Canadian border

Chelsea Manning was turned away at the Canadian border while trying to vacation in Montreal and Vancouver. The former US military officer and leaker of documents demonstrating human rights violations committed by the US government in the Iraq war was detained overnight and told she was inadmissible “on grounds of serious criminality.” A Canadian lawyer representing Manning has submitted a formal request asking the government to reconsider its decision. More than 40 human rights organizations and academics sent letters to the Canadian government in support ofthe human rights activist.

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Top 5 Worst Countries With Blasphemy Laws: All Are Islamic Nations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Top 5 Worst Countries With Blasphemy Laws Ranked by USCIRF, One Christian Nation Listed at No. 7

(PHOTO: REUTERS/FAYAZ AZIZ)Protesters gather to condemn the killing of university student Mashal Khan, after he was accused of blasphemy, during a protest in Peshawar, Pakistan, on April 20, 2017.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has issued a report on blasphemy laws around the world, with the top five worst-scoring nations all seeking to protect Islam.

“In all five of the worst-scoring countries (Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Qatar), the blasphemy laws aim to protect the state religion of Islam in a way that impermissibly discriminates among different groups,” a press release from the organization stated on Wednesday.

The major report found that 71 of the world’s 195 countries have blasphemy laws, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment and death.

USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark said that religious freedom should protect people’s rights to express their thoughts and beliefs, even those that others may find blasphemous.

“Advocates for blasphemy laws may argue that they are needed in order to protect religious freedom, but these laws do no such thing. Blasphemy laws are wrong in principle, and they often invite abuse and lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks. Wherever they exist, they should be repealed,” Mark insisted.

Christians and other religious minorities have been targeted by such blasphemy laws in Pakistan where they’re punished any time an accusation of having insulted the Islamic faith is lobbed against them.

In June, a Pakistani Christian father was arrested on charges of blasphemy after he asked a Muslim man to pay for a bicycle that he had repaired the week before, but was then accused by the same man of insulting Islam.

Islamic hardliners have also taken justice into their own hands. In one instance in November 2014, a Christian couple was burned to death by a mob after they were accused of having desecrated the Quran, a claim that turned out to be false.

Iran, which persecutes Christians, Baha’is, and other minorities, has threatened to execute anyone who’s accused of insulting the Islamic faith.

The Iranian government has been particularly concerned about the rise of Christianity in the country, especially among youths. This has led to Islamic seminary officials calling on the government to “stop the spread” of the faith.

Though the majority of high-ranking countries beyond the top five focused on defending Islamic sensibilities, Italy and its blasphemy laws protecting the Roman Catholic Church also scored a high ranking, coming in at number seven.

Article 403 of Italy’s criminal code reads:

“Anyone who insults the State religion in public by offending those who profess it shall be subject to a prison sentence of up to two years. Anyone who insults the State religion by insulting a minister of the Catholic Church shall be subject to a prison sentence of one to three years.”

USCIRF noted in its report that most of the blasphemy laws that it studied were “vaguely worded,” and failed to specify intent as part of the violation. It added that a majority of blasphemy laws are embedded in the criminal codes of countries, with 86 percent of nations with such laws threatening imprisonment for offenders.

“Though implementation varies, countries from Switzerland to Sudan persist in outlawing expression of views deemed ‘blasphemous,'” Mark added.

“Some countries, including Canada, have such laws but do not actively enforce them. We call upon those countries to set an example for the others and repeal their blasphemy laws. And we call upon all countries to repeal any such laws and to free those detained or convicted for blasphemy.”

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