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It was on 19 November 2016 that the command of the Saudi-led Arab alliance in Yemen gave its support to a 48-hour UN-backed ceasefire. The hope was that this respite from the bloodshed would allow for the delivery of sorely needed humanitarian aid across the country. It was also very clear that cessation of hostilities could be extended if the Iran-allied Houthi militia abided by the terms of truce. Importantly, this included allowing the entry of aid to the besieged areas of the war-torn country, particularly Taiz City, Yemen’s third largest city. What was formally the country’s vibrant cultural capital is now almost completely surrounded by the Houthis and their allies. The suffering of the city’s inhabitants is immeasurable.

Ultimately, the aim of the ceasefire was to bring about a permanent and lasting end to the conflict through the reopening of diplomatic channels. Alas, the Pacification Committee of the Yemeni army recorded in excess of 70 breaches of the truce by Houthi forces  its allies in Taiz province, only moments after the ceasefire came into effect. These infringements included shelling with heavy and medium weapons and sniping that wounded two civilians. Militia fired artillery and mortar shells at people’s homes in Al-Salow District and bombed the Al-Tabadud Valley area. Mortar rounds and rockets rained down indiscriminately across the different areas of Taiz City. In total, the ceasefire was broken 563 times in Yemen and 163 times on the Saudi border, a coalition official confirmed.

Beyond the flagrant contravention of the ceasefire terms, Houthi forces have frequently launched missiles into Saudi Arabian territory. On one occasion, the Houthis even went as far as to target the Holy City of Makkah, the holiest site of the Muslim world. When such atrocities are regularly attempted by the Houthis, there can be no foundation of trust on which to base a ceasefire. Saudi Arabia necessarily reserves the right to act with the utmost caution in brokering such ceasefires with the Houthis, bearing in mind that the protection of our own citizens must be our priority.

In a latest development, Houthis and General People’s Congress have unilaterally announced the formation of a new government that had legitimacy or support from the internationally recognised Yemeni government. These actions have been condemned by the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh, who said, the move “represents a new and concerning obstacle to the peace process and does not serve the interests of the people of Yemen in these difficult times.” Equally, the Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher said that Houthis and their allies are “certainly aware that they are undermining U.N. peace efforts when announcing a new government.”

We join Mr Ould Cheikh in his plea to the Houthis and the General People’s Congress to “re-think their approach & demonstrate their commitment to the peace process with concrete actions,” rather than illegitimate and damaging posturing. To end the conflict there must be a withdrawal from occupied cities, and a handing over arms to make way for a much-needed political process and reconstruction of the country.

The number of Saudis employed in the private sector rose in 2015 by over 10 percent compared to the previous year’s total. The annual statistics of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) show that the number of Saudi workers in the private sector reached approximately 1.74 million male and female workers, almost 200,000 more than the 2014 figure.

The statistics also highlighted that the number of female employees surpassed 499,000, meaning women now account for 29 percent of the total of private sector employees.

The statistics from SAMA, based its data and information on figures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, revealed that male and female Saudis working in the private sector represent 16 percent of the total number of Saudi workers – a number exceeding 10.5 million.

It was Riyadh that enjoyed the majority of new recruits to the private sector, with the total of Saudi workers exceeding 671,000, representing 38 percent, while the Eastern Province occupied second place in the recruitment of Saudis in the private sector at 23 percent of the total. Makkah came in third, with 395,000 male and female Saudi workers, representing 22 percent of the Kingdom’s total.