World US reaffirms Saudi 'defence partnership' in face of Huthi attacks
The Houthis claim an attack on an airport in Saudi Arabia
© Nael Shyoukhi, Reuters An entrance to the Abha airport in Saudi Arabia on June 24, 2019. The Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack on Wednesday against the Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia, which caused a fire in a commercial plane, without causing any casualties, said Saudi state television. A commercial plane caught fire in a drone attack carried out and claimed on Wednesday (February 10) by Yemeni Houthi rebels against Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia.
Washington has reaffirmed its "strategic defence partnership" with Riyadh in the face of increased attacks by Yemeni rebels but the move came in a call from the Pentagon not the White House.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned the Huthi attacks in a telephone conversation Thursday with his Saudi counterpart, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the official Saudi Press Agency and a Pentagon statement said.
UN warns battle for Marib threatens millions of Yemenis
The UN's humanitarian chief said Tuesday he was "very alarmed" by a Huthi rebel advance on the Yemeni government's last northern stronghold of Marib, saying the assault could endanger millions of civilians. The Iran-backed Huthis have this month resumed an offensive to seize oil-rich Marib, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the rebel-held capital Sanaa. The city's loss would be a major blow for Yemen's government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, but would also threaten catastrophe for civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people sheltering in desolate camps in the region.
The conversation came after the White House announced on Tuesday that President Joe Biden's first telephone call to Saudi leaders would be to King Salman, and not his son, the crown prince, who is the kingdom's de facto leader but has a tarnished reputation within Biden's Democratic Party.
Austin spoke with Prince Mohammed "to reaffirm the strategic defence partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", the Pentagon statement said.
Yemen govt accuses rebels of using civilians as human shields
Yemen's Saudi-backed government accused Huthi rebels Saturday of using civilians as human shields in their renewed offensive against its last major toehold in the north. The city lies close to some of Yemen's richest oil fields and its capture would be major prize for the rebels. But the fighting has raised fears for the hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians sheltering in camps in the surrounding desert that extends to the Saudi border.Loyalist military officials told AFP the rebels had been using residents of Al-Zor camp in the province's Sirwah district as "human shields" since their capture of the area last week.
"The secretary condemned the recent Huthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and expressed his commitment to assisting Saudi Arabia in the defence of its borders."
The Huthi rebels have stepped up cross-border drone and missile attacks in recent weeks as they resumed an offensive to seize the Saudi-backed government's last major toehold in northern Yemen.
Long-serving Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani dies at 90
Sheikh Yamani helped Saudi Arabia command a dominating presence in OPEC from its birth.Saudi state television reported his death on Tuesday without mentioning a cause. It said he would be buried in the holy city of Mecca.
Although Biden has reached out to US allies in every corner of the world, he has yet to speak with Saudi leaders.
Two weeks after he was sworn in as president, Biden announced an end to US backing for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen's longstanding war, which he said had created a "humanitarian and strategic catastrophe."
"Secretary Austin reiterated recent changes in US policy toward the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, discussed the importance of ending the war," the Pentagon statement said.
Washington has also dropped the Huthi rebels from the US blacklist of terrorist organisations.
Their backlisting in the dying days of the Trump administration was sharply criticised by relief organisations, who said it would seriously hinder aid shipments to the large swathes of Yemen controlled by the Huthis.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken already spoke earlier this month with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan, and raised the issue of human rights in the kingdom.
Yemen has been embroiled in a bloody power struggle since 2014 between its Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and most of the north.
The grinding conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more, triggering what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia ‘intercepts ballistic missile attack over Riyadh’ .
Saudi-led coalition blames Yemen’s Houthis as state TV broadcasts footage of explosions in the air over Riyadh.Brigadier General Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said in a statement that the Houthis launched a ballistic missile towards Riyadh and three booby-trapped drones towards the province of Jizan, with a fourth towards the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait.