Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Headlines from the Middle East - 11/06/2017

From Reuters - everything from the Saudi point-of-view and almost nothing about the ongoing coup/purge in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi king receives ex-Lebanon PM Hariri in Riyadh

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RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi King Salman received former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in Riyadh on Monday following his resignation, Saudi media reported.

Saudi-led forces close air, sea and land access to Yemen

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DUBAI (Reuters) - The Saudi-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Monday it would close all air, land and sea ports to the Arabian Peninsula country to stem the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

The move, which follows the interception of a missile fired toward the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday, is likely to worsen a humanitarian crisis in Yemen that according to the United Nations has pushed some seven million people to the brink of famine and left nearly 900,000 infected with cholera.

The Coalition Forces Command decided to temporarily close all Yemeni air, sea and land ports,” the coalition said in a statement on the Saudi state news agency SPA. It said aid workers and humanitarian supplies would continue to be able to access and exit Yemen.

The United Nations, however, said it was not given approval for two scheduled humanitarian flights on Monday and was seeking clarification on the coalition’s announcement.

The state news agency Saba, run by the Houthis, quoted a source in the navy warning against the closure of ports and said it would have, “catastrophic consequences”.

The United Nations and international aid organizations have repeatedly criticized the coalition for blocking aid access, especially to north Yemen, which is held by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement battling the Saudi-led coalition.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies have made clear they view Iran as mainly responsible for the Yemen conflict, in which more than 10,000 people have been killed in the past two years.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on his Twitter account on Monday that Riyadh reserved the right to respond to what he called Iran’s “hostile actions”. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa also tweeted that Iran was the real danger to the region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saudi Arabia was blaming Tehran for the consequences of its own “wars of aggression”.

On Sunday the coalition accused the Houthis of “dangerous escalation (that) came because of Iranian support” after Saudi air defences intercepted the ballistic missile heading toward Riyadh. It was brought down near Riyadh airport without causing casualties.


Iran rejected the criticism as “destructive and provocative”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi “referred to the war crimes and aggression of the Saudis during the past years and said the reaction by Yemenis is an independent reaction ... and not a move caused by another country’s action or incitement”, a ministry statement said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also blamed Iran for Saturday’s missile attack, but the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards rejected that view as “slander”.

The Houthis are fighters drawn mainly from the Zaydi Shi‘ite minority which ruled a 1,000-year kingdom in northern Yemen until 1962. The Saudi-led coalition has been targeting the Houthis since they seized parts of Yemen in 2015, including the capital Sanaa, forcing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee and seek help from neighboring Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday a suicide car bomber blew himself up at a security checkpoint in the southern port city of Aden, killing 15 people and wounding at least 20, residents and a security officials said. Aden is the interim headquarters of Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

From Press TV

Yemen cancels all flights due to Saudi blockade of impoverished country

This file photo shows a Yemeni passenger plane
All flights to and from the war-torn Yemen have been canceled after the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, which has been pounding the impoverished country for over two and a half years, announced the closure of all land, air and sea ports in Yemen.

Yemenia, the flag carrier airline of Yemen, announced the decision on Monday, saying the Saudi-led coalition had denied permission to fly out of the remaining two functional airports of the country, located in the cities of Aden, in the southwestern province of Aden and Say'un, in the central province of Hadhramaut.

Both cities are situated in areas that are under the control of coalition allies, which are also loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime. Yemen’s main international airport in capital Sana’a has also been shut down since August 2016 by order of the coalition.

The development came shortly after Saudi-led coalition announced that it had “decided to temporarily close all Yemeni air, sea and land ports.” Riyadh's move came after Yemeni forces, backed by popular Houthi Ansarullah fighters, launched a missile, a Borkan H2 long-range missile, at King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh late on Saturday.

Saudi military authorities say the missile was fired at an international airport by Houthi fighters, who are on the forefront of fighting against the Saudi war machine since 2015, but was intercepted.

Shattered fragments from the intercepted missile landed in an uninhabited area of the airport and there were no injuries,” said a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen at the time.

The Houthi forces have launched a number of long-range missiles across the border in recent years. However, Saturday's strike appeared to be the deepest yet within Saudi territory.

Saudi-led coalition further alleged that Iran had been behind the strike through its support of Houthis, saying it could be “considered as an act of war.” Iran was quick in dismissing Saudis’ allegations as a “lie”, saying Riyadh was resorting to “destructive, irresponsible, provocative and baseless” allegations after failing to achieve its “ominous aims” in Yemen.

Lebanese president calls for national unity after Hariri resignation

Lebanese President Michel Aoun

6 November, 2017

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has appealed for national unity as the Middle Eastern nation is suffering from the aftershocks of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s sudden announcement resignation.

According to a statement released by presidential office on Monday, Aoun made the comment at a meeting of ministers and top security officials at Baabda Palace earlier in the day, saying he had told them that political leaders had been responsive to calls for calm.

Aoun “stressed that security, economic, financial, and political stability is a red line,” Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said after the meeting.

The development came as 47-year-old Hariri, who reached an agreement with political factions in Lebanon in 2016 to become prime minister, announced his unexpected resignation through a televised statement from Saudi Arabia on Saturday, citing numerous reasons, including fears for his life.

Hariri also accused Iran and the Hezbollah resistance movement of interfering in internal affairs of Arab countries. His decision came less than a month after Hariri announced plans to join a coalition government with Hezbollah.

Lebanese PM Hariri resigns after trips to Saudi Arabia

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has announced his resignation in a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia.

Iran has vehemently rejected Hariri’s remarks, saying his resignation and rehashing of the “unfounded and baseless” allegations regularly leveled by Zionists, Saudis and the US were another scenario to create new tensions in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Iran says Saad Hariri’s resignation is a US-Saudi-Zionist plot to heighten tensions in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, Jreissati said that the Lebanese president “is waiting for Hariri’s return to hear from him personally. This indicates a sovereign vision... and that the resignation must be voluntary in every sense,” signaling that the Lebanese government regards the sudden move as involuntary.

Aoun also planned to meet the finance minister and central bank governor later in the day. The central bank has sought to calm fears that the current political turmoil would hit Lebanon’s already vulnerable economy.

Lebanese PM Hariri resignation might be a Saudi plot to destabilize Lebanon

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