CNN says Saudi Arabia and UAE transferred US-made weapons to militias designated by the US as terrorist groups.
US-made Oshkosh armoured vehicles were given to the Abu al-Abbas Brigade in Taiz, CNN reported [Al Jazeera]
Saudi Arabia and its coalition partner in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) transferred US-made weapons to al-Qaeda-linked groups and a Salafi militia whose commander who once “served with” the Yemeni branch of ISIL, a CNN investigation has found.
Corroborating an earlier report by Al Jazeera, the CNN investigation said that the weapons had also made their way into the hands of Houthi rebels who are battling against the coalition for control of the country.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE entered Yemen’s war in 2015 leading a military coalition to try and restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The two Gulf countries wanted to restore the Hadi government after a civil war broke out between Hadi’s supporters and those loyal to the Houthis.
But according to CNN, the coalition was using US-manufactured weapons “as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape,” local commanders and analysts said.
According to the Pentagon, the Gulf monarchies were breaking the terms of their arms deal with Washington.
A US defence official told CNN that there was an ongoing investigation into the issue.
‘The coalition is still supporting me’
Citing the situation in the flashpoint city of Taiz, CNN said that al-Qaeda had forged “advantageous alliances with the pro-Saudi militias they fought alongside”.
It said the Abu al-Abbas Brigade possessed US-made Oshkosh armoured vehicles that were paraded through the city in a 2015 show of force.
Abu al-Abbas, the militia’s founder, was sanctioned by the US in 2017 for allegedly financing al-Qaeda and the Yemeni chapter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
“The coalition is still supporting me,” al-Abbas said in an interview in December with the Washington Post. “If I really was a terrorist, they would have taken me in for questioning.”
According to CNN, his group still enjoyed support from the Saudi-led coalition and was absorbed into the coalition-supported 35th Brigade of the Yemeni army.
“The United States has not authorized the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates to re-transfer any equipment to parties inside Yemen,” Pentagon spokesperson Johnny Michael told CNN.
“The US government cannot comment on any pending investigations of claims of end-use violations of defence articles and services transferred to our allies and partners,” Michael added.
US weapons in Houthi hands
According to the report, US-made weapons also ended up in the hands of Houthi rebels.
In September 2017, a Houthi-run TV channel broadcast images of Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a senior Houthi leader, sitting behind the wheel of a captured US-made Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) in the capital Sanaa, as a crowd chanted “death to America” in the background.
CNN also obtained an image showing the serial numbers of a second MRAP in the hands of another senior Houthi official last year in Hodeidah.
The vehicle was part of a $2.5bn sale to the UAE in 2014.
The sale document, seen by CNN, certifies that “a determination has been made that the recipient country can provide the same degree of protection for the sensitive technology” as the US.
Hiram Al Assad, a member of the Houthi political council, confirmed to CNN that the MRAPs were still in Houthi hands but denied reports that the vehicles had been probed by Iranian intelligence.
The US is by far the biggest supplier of arms to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and its support is crucial to the Saudi-led coalition’s continuing war in Yemen.
In his first overseas trip as president, US President Donald Trump sealed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth about $110bn over several years. The agreement was said to be aimed at bolstering security “in the face of Iranian threats”.
According to CNN, the revelations raise fresh questions over whether Saudi Arabia is responsible enough to be allowed to continue buying sophisticated US arms and other military hardware.
Out of the 18,000-plus raids the Saudi-UAE coalition has launched since the start of the conflict, nearly a third of all bombs have hit civilian targets, according to the Yemen Data Project, a monitor of the war in Yemen.
The developments also come as Congress, outraged with Riyadh over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, considers whether to force an end to the Trump administration’s support for the Saudi-UAE coalition.
Test strip helps prevent fentanyl overdoses 01:50
(CNN)A controversial tool has emerged in the fight against opioid overdose deaths. It’s a strip that allows people who use street drugs such as cocaine and heroin to test whether their drugs are laced with fentanyl.
CNN: Facts first, just not on Israel
CNN firing commentator Marc Lamont Hill exposes yet another layer of mainstream media’s bias and lack of objectivity.Last week, the US mainstream media demonstrated once again that it has a Palestine problem. CNN suspended the contract of commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after he gave a speech at the United Nations in which he criticised the Israeli occupation and the abuse of Palestinian rights.
Hill based his speech very much on facts. He cited Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians; the use of arbitrary violence by the Israeli security apparatus; the use of torture against Palestinian detainees; the denial of due process to Palestinians by Israeli courts; the restriction on movement in the occupied territories, etc – all violations that have been well-documented and condemned by the UN and a myriad of human rights organisations.
Yet CNN, which last year adopted a new slogan – “Facts first” – did not seem to agree with these facts. After pro-Israel organisations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the speech, the TV station was quick to sever its ties with Hill.
While CNN did not announce why it chose to do so, it is clear to many of us it caved in to pressure from pro-Israel groups. Hill was accused of being anti-Semitic for using the phrase “free Palestine from the river to the sea”, which supposedly is a “Hamas slogan” and a call for the destruction of Israel. Well, it is neither.
Throwing accusations of anti-Semitism at people criticising Israel and supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination is a convenient tool of the Zionist lobby. But calling for the freedom of Palestinians and for the recognition of their rights is not anti-Semitic; it is pro-Palestinian.
Conflating anti-Semitism with pro-Palestinian positions and criticism of Israel is not only ill-intentioned but also dangerous, as it does a disservice to Jews who have faced hate speech and hate attacks.
In Palestine, the Israeli authorities have brought this tactic to the extreme and have already passed a number of laws curbing freedom of speech. This means that those of us who dare criticise Israeli policy or call for resistance to Israeli occupation, even if in the form of a poem, face the risk of imprisonment.
In the United States, those who do so clearly face the risk of being fired, as in the case of Professor Hill and as in the case of many others before him- and probably many others after. The way CNN (mis)handled this situation offers us an opportunity to discuss how media organisations succumbing to Israel’s campaign of silencing critics is particularly problematic.
The Trump administration vows to fight CNN lawsuit which claims the journalist’s constitutional rights were violated.
A federal judge will hold a hearing on Wednesday on a CNN lawsuit against President Donald Trump‘s administration after the White House revokedthe press credentials of the network’s journalist last week.
The American network said its correspondent Jim Acosta’s removal was a violation of his First Amendment rights to freely report on the government.
The White House dismissed CNN’s complaint as “grandstanding” and vowed to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit.
If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials
A CNN STATEMENT
The dispute on live national television and Acosta’s resulting banishment triggered a wave of accusations that Trump is stifling the free press, and marked a sharp escalation in tensions between the president and CNN.
“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” the news network said in a statement, announcing the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Washington.
“If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials,” CNN said.
US District Judge Timothy Kelly ordered the Trump administration to respond by 11:00am (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday and set a hearing for 3:30pm.
Kelly, a former chief counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee, was appointed by Trump last year.
The First Amendment
The White House had suspended Acosta’s hard pass after he sparred at a news conference with the president, who demanded that the reporter give up the microphone and called him a “rude, terrible person” when he did not immediately comply.
They began sparring after Acosta asked Trump about the caravan of migrants heading from Latin America to the southern US border. When Acosta tried to follow up with another question, Trump said, “That’s enough!” and a female White House aide unsuccessfully tried to grab the microphone from Acosta.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement accusing Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern”, calling it “absolutely unacceptable”.
Hours later, Sanders announced Acosta’s hard pass had been suspended, in a move that she justified by claiming the reporter was inappropriately “placing his hands” on the intern.
The interaction between Acosta and the intern was brief, and Acosta appeared to brush her arm as she reached for the microphone and he tried to hold onto it. “Pardon me, ma’am,” he told her.
She alleged that Acosta “physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern,” softening the earlier misconduct accusation and then casting blame on the journalist for his persistent questioning.
“The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolise the floor,” the press secretary said in a statement.
“If there is no check on this type of behaviour, it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff and members of the media to conduct business.”
CNN lawyer Ted Boutrous said the White Houses’ suspension of the press pass made “clear it was based on the content of the reporting.”
“CNN’s argument is very straightforward,” the lawyer told the American network. “We can’t have the White House tossing people out because they don’t like what they are saying or what they are reporting.”
“That is what happened. That is the First Amendment.”