Saudi led coalition spokesman Turki Al-Malki gives a press conference at the King Salman Airbase in Riyadh on November 5, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE
Saudi led coalition spokesman Turki Al Malki gives a press conference at the King Salman Airbase in Riyadh on November 5, 2017. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Saudi-led coalition blames Iran for missile attack and calls it an 'act of war'



The Saudi-led coalition on Monday blamed Iran for supplying Yemeni rebels with a ballistic missile launched at Riyadh and called the attack “an act of war".

Saudi Arabia responded with a list of 40 names wanted for their links to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and rewards totalling US$440 million (Dh1.6 billion) for information leading to their capture. The kingdom said on Sunday it had also closed all air, sea and land borders with Yemen, allowing only humanitarian supplies to pass through.

The coalition of Arab countries said Iran supplied the rebels with the missile that was fired from Yemen shot down north of the Saudi capital on Saturday. The missile type, a Burkan H-2, was also fired towards Saudi oil refineries in Yanbu in July and Mecca last month.

Coalition experts analysed fragments from the missiles and concluded that they were provided by the Iranian regime, despite the Houthis claiming they were made in Yemen.

"The Coalition's command considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Press Agency reported.

The coalition also said the kingdom had a "legitimate right" to defend its territory and people and reserves the right to respond to Iran according to “international law and based upon the right of self-defence.”

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Read more:

Saudis name and put price on heads of 40 leaders of Houthi terror groups

Houthi attack on Riyadh highlights Yemen missile threat

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The central command of the coalition also warned that Yemeni civilians need to avoid all areas where there are active combat operations and Houthi militias are present.

Adel Al Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, said the Yemeni "militias would not have continued operations without the support of the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world - the Iranian regime".

The foreign minister accused Iran of "destroying all attempts to find a solution in Yemen, which has led to the failure of all political negotiations between the government and these militias".

Iran rejected the statement as "ridiculous and baseless", according to foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.

April Longley Alley, senior analyst at International Crisis Group, said the missile attacks and subsequent response by Saudi Arabia might be the war’s most dangerous trigger point and could lead to military escalation.

“The stakes could not be higher. There is a possibility of a missile strike by the Houthis, particularly if it results in casualties, resulting in a direct US confrontation with Iran,” she said.

Ms Alley said the Houthis view their ballistic missiles as their best bargaining chip in the case of negotiations and will continue launching attacks as long as the war drags on.

The wanted list, labelled the “Iranian terrorist militia elements in Yemen”, included a bounty of $30m for Abdulmalik Al Houthi, the leader of the rebels in Yemen.

The list includes the Houthi leader’s brothers, other family members and members of the Houthi hierarchy. Saleh Ali Al Sammad, second in command, has a bounty of $20m.

Al Sammad has risen in the Houthi ranks to become the leader of the Supreme Political Council, which governs Houthi-controlled Yemen.

Al Sammad served briefly as political advisor to the internationally recognised president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi before Mr Hadi was forced to flee Sanaa after the Houthis seized control of the capital. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting alongside forces loyal to the Yemeni president against the Houthis and their allies since March 2015.

Surprisingly, not featuring on the list is former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom for decades Riyadh backed until he resigned under pressure from vast Arab Spring protests in 2012.

But in 2014, Mr Saleh aligned himself with the Houthis, against whom he had fought six wars when he was president. The two now jointly control Yemen's northern highlands and the capital Sanaa.

His omission from the list is confirmation of reports earlier in the summer that a falling out between the two parties might have originated from a Saudi-brokered peace deal that the Houthi leader refused.

In the last two years of fighting, the coalition has driven the Houthis from much of southern Yemen but the fighting has become bogged down in Taez province and along the Red Sea coast.

The coalition claims the Houthis are increasing their reliance on Hizbollah in exchanging military expertise.

ISIL and extremist rival Al Qaeda have taken advantage of the war to bolster their presence in the south. ISIL said it carried out a major attack on a security compound in Aden on Sunday aimed at a top-ranking official that killed more than 15 people.

The coalition said Yemen’s borders had been closed "to fill the gaps in the inspection procedures, which enable the continued smuggling of missiles and military equipment to the Houthi militias loyal to Iran in Yemen".

“It is not clear, however, that this will have a significant impact, with the current blockade and entry limits apparently not achieving this aim,” said Miriam Eps Regional Security Analyst at Le Beck International.

Although humanitarian activities are expected to continue, Ms Eps thinks that the closures are liable to slowing down the entry of aid, “impacting the already existing crisis and affecting the average Yemeni more than Houthi fighters.”

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

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Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The biog

Age: 35

Inspiration: Wife and kids 

Favourite book: Changes all the time but my new favourite is Thinking, Fast and Slow  by Daniel Kahneman

Best Travel Destination: Bora Bora , French Polynesia 

Favourite run: Jabel Hafeet, I also enjoy running the 30km loop in Al Wathba cycling track

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The Genius of Their Age

Author: S Frederick Starr
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 290
Available: January 24

ARM IPO DETAILS

Share price: Undisclosed

Target raise: $8 billion to $10 billion

Projected valuation: $60 billion to $70 billion (Source: Bloomberg)

Lead underwriters: Barclays, Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase and Mizuho Financial Group

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Mamo

Year it started: 2019 Founders: Imad Gharazeddine, Asim Janjua

Based: Dubai, UAE

Number of employees: 28

Sector: Financial services

Investment: $9.5m

Funding stage: Pre-Series A Investors: Global Ventures, GFC, 4DX Ventures, AlRajhi Partners, Olive Tree Capital, and prominent Silicon Valley investors.

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Three stars

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl

Power: 153hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 200Nm at 4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Price: Dh99,000

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1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

JOKE'S ON YOU

Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".

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Director: Colin Trevorrow

Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt

Rating: 4/5

ALRAWABI SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

Creator: Tima Shomali

Starring: Tara Abboud, Kira Yaghnam, Tara Atalla

Rating: 4/5

VEZEETA PROFILE

Date started: 2012

Founder: Amir Barsoum

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: HealthTech / MedTech

Size: 300 employees

Funding: $22.6 million (as of September 2018)

Investors: Technology Development Fund, Silicon Badia, Beco Capital, Vostok New Ventures, Endeavour Catalyst, Crescent Enterprises’ CE-Ventures, Saudi Technology Ventures and IFC

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Qureos
Based: UAE
Launch year: 2021
Number of employees: 33
Sector: Software and technology
Funding: $3 million

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
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If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Why it pays to compare

A comparison of sending Dh20,000 from the UAE using two different routes at the same time - the first direct from a UAE bank to a bank in Germany, and the second from the same UAE bank via an online platform to Germany - found key differences in cost and speed. The transfers were both initiated on January 30.

Route 1: bank transfer

The UAE bank charged Dh152.25 for the Dh20,000 transfer. On top of that, their exchange rate margin added a difference of around Dh415, compared with the mid-market rate.

Total cost: Dh567.25 - around 2.9 per cent of the total amount

Total received: €4,670.30 

Route 2: online platform

The UAE bank’s charge for sending Dh20,000 to a UK dirham-denominated account was Dh2.10. The exchange rate margin cost was Dh60, plus a Dh12 fee.

Total cost: Dh74.10, around 0.4 per cent of the transaction

Total received: €4,756

The UAE bank transfer was far quicker – around two to three working days, while the online platform took around four to five days, but was considerably cheaper. In the online platform transfer, the funds were also exposed to currency risk during the period it took for them to arrive.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends