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Yemen’s Houthis attack Saudi oil heartland with drones, missiles

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(Last Updated On: March 8, 2021)

Yemen’s Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Sunday, including a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura vital to petroleum exports, in what Riyadh called a failed assault on global energy security, Reuters reported.

The Saudi energy ministry said there were no casualties or loss of property from the attacks.

The defence ministry said it intercepted an armed drone coming from the sea prior to hitting its target at an oil storage yard at Ras Tanura, site of a refinery and the world’s biggest offshore oil loading facility.

Reuters reported shrapnel from a ballistic missile fell near a residential compound in Dhahran used by state-controlled Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, the ministries said.

The sites are located on the Gulf coast across from Iran and near Iraq and Bahrain.

Yemen lies thousands of kms southwest on the Gulf of Aden.

Announcing the attacks, the Houthis, who have been battling a Saudi-led coalition for six years, also said they attacked military targets in the Saudi cities of Dammam, Asir and Jazan, Reuters reported.

“Such acts of sabotage do not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement on state media.

The Saudi-led coalition earlier said it intercepted 12 armed drones aimed at “civilian targets” without specifying a location as well as two ballistic missiles fired towards Jazan.

The Eastern Province is home to most of Aramco’s production and export facilities. In 2019, Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, was shaken by a big missile and drone attack on oil installations just a few km from the facilities hit on Sunday, which Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denied.

That attack, which was claimed by the Houthis but which Riyadh said did not originate from Yemen, forced Saudi Arabia to temporarily shut more than half of its crude output, causing a huge price spike.

Reuters reported Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Sunday that the group had fired 14 drones and eight ballistic missiles in a “wide operation in the heart of Saudi Arabia”.

The Houthis recently stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia at a time when the United States and the United Nations are pushing for a ceasefire to revive stalled political negotiations to end the war.

 

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IEA to assess academic credentials of religious scholars

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2021)

A meeting of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) cabinet ministers was held on Tuesday, IEA said in a statement.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund approved a plan to regulate the academic ranks of religious scholars and evaluate their academic credentials.

Akhand stressed at the ministerial meeting that the documents of religious scholars should be evaluated and their academic ranks should be determined, the statement said.

In addition to this, a delegation from the IEA has been appointed to resolve the problem of companies not being able to access their money held in banks.

The continuation of the ID card distribution process, the preparation of a population census plan, solving the problem of drug addicts, the sound management of foreign aid, and the TAPI project were also discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of IEA’s ministers.

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IEA leader meets with Chinese officials in Qatar, discusses bilateral issues

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2021)

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has again urged the US to ease sanctions against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to help the country overcome a looming humanitarian crisis.

Speaking during the first high-level meeting with the Afghan interim government in Qatar on Monday, Wang emphasized the seriousness of the problem unfolding in Afghanistan.
It was Wang’s first meeting with acting deputy prime minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar since July, when the IEA leader visited Tianjin in northern China shortly before the takeover of Kabul, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported.

“Afghanistan is facing quadruple challenges, namely the humanitarian crisis, economic chaos, terrorist threats and governance difficulties. Overcoming these challenges requires more understanding and support from the international community,” Wang said.

“China urges the Western countries led by the United States as a whole to lift sanctions, and calls on all parties to engage with the Afghan Taliban (IEA) in a rational and pragmatic manner to help Afghanistan embark on a path of sound development.”

Wang also pledged that China would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Beijing announced last month that it would donate 200 million yuan (US$31.3 million) in aid, including food and coronavirus vaccines, to the war-torn nation, SCMP reported.

Meanwhile, a delegation led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with a delegation led by Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday.

The two sides discussed issues including diplomatic relations, bilateral trade, China’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and the creation of higher education opportunities for Afghan students in China, as well as opportunities and challenges in bilateral relations.

The acting minister thanked China for its comprehensive assistance and said that the new Islamic government would ensure that Afghan soil would not be used against any country, including China.

Muttaqi said Afghanistan had a balanced foreign policy based on co-operation and understanding.

“China has an important place in our foreign policy and is an important country in the region,” he added. The whole region, including China, benefits from Afghanistan’s stability.

The Chinese Foreign Minister welcomed the recent positive developments in Afghanistan and noted that Afghanistan and China have historical ties.

He said China would work in the future based on the common interests of both countries and would never interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

Wang said his country respected Afghanistan’s security, independence and territorial integrity.

The Chinese side also stressed its support for Afghanistan to chart its own course for development.

China is playing its part in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. The Foreign Minister said that his country would continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who is accompanying the delegation said that China provided $1 million to Afghanistan and has promised to provide $5 million more in humanitarian aid, especially medicine and food.

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John Kerry and Imran Khan discuss Afghanistan on sidelines of MGI summit

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2021)

The United States’ Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, spoke with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Riyadh yesterday on the sidelines of the “Middle East Green Initiative (MGI)” Summit.

In the regional context, the Imran Khan underscored the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for Pakistan and the region.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister stressed the need for the international community to work pragmatically to preserve peace and security, avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and prevent an economic collapse.

Imran Khan also underscored the need for positive engagement and release of Afghanistan’s economic resources and financial assets for the welfare of the Afghan people.

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