Yemen’s Houthi rebels have launched an attack on Abha civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia that killed one person and wounded seven others, the Saudi-led coalition battling the group in Yemen has said.
Earlier this month, a Houthi missile hit the same airport, which is located about 200 km (125 miles) north of the Yemen border and serves domestic and regional routes, in a strike that wounded 26 people.
Campaigners hailed a “historic” ruling by the United Kingdom’s court of appeal declaring British arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in its war against Yemen unlawful as a potential turning point in the conflict. The decision in London on Thursday follows a challenge by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) that accused the UK government of licensing arms sales despite a clear risk their use could breach international humanitarian law.
A special U.N. investigator says Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be investigated in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi because there is “credible evidence” that he and other senior officials in the kingdom were responsible. Western intelligence agencies, including in the U.S., have already assessed that the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi’s death, but this report is from an independent investigator.
Yemen’s Houthis have fired a missile at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport, wounding 26 civilians in the building’s arrivals hall, according to the Saudi-UAE-led coalition fighting the rebels. The attack could amount to a war crime and proved that the Houthis have acquired “advanced weapons from Iran”, the coalition said, vowing to take “urgent and timely” measures in response. There was no immediate response from Iran, which has denied arming the Houthis.
Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz offered pointed criticisms of the Trump administration’s response to the slain Saudi journalist’s brutal 2018 murder, pleading with the United States and other western governments to hold Saudi Arabia accountable through sanctions and an international investigation. Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and legal U.S. resident, was murdered and his body was dismembered by a team of Saudi assassins last October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Cengiz was waiting outside the consulate while Khashoggi was inside to seek marriage documents.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shiites, in a mass execution across the country for alleged terrorism-related crimes. It also publicly pinned the executed body and severed head of a convicted Sunni extremist to a pole as a warning to others. It marked the largest number of executions in a single day in Saudi Arabia since Jan. 2, 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people for terrorism-related crimes in what was the largest mass execution carried out by Saudi authorities since 1980.
Saudi Arabian authorities have released three female activists who were jailed last year after campaigning to lift the driving ban and dismantle restrictive guardianship laws, several human rights organizations and news outlets report. Conditions of the women’s release remain unknown and initial reports indicate it is temporary as their trials continue to move through the criminal court. Human rights group ALQST announced the women’s release over Twitter, adding that authorities had issued “promises that the others will be released on Sunday 31 March.”
Italy’s famed La Scala opera house has decided to return three million euros ($3.4m) in investment funding to Saudi Arabia after a plan to work closely with the kingdom was widely criticized by rights groups and the government. The proposed deal, which would have included giving a seat on the La Scala board to Saudi Arabia’s Culture Minister Badr bin Abdullah, came under fire earlier this month in light of the country’s human rights record. The kingdom is under increased global scrutiny since the killing of a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its consulate in Istanbul last October and the plight of a Saudi woman who turned to social media to help escape alleged family abuse.
The head of the state-backed Saudi human rights commission dismissed an international investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as interference on Thursday, and said everyone accused was already facing justice in the kingdom. Three dozen Western countries, including all 28 European Union members, called on the kingdom last week to cooperate with a U.N.-led investigation. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, provoking an international outcry.
Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince of going “full gangster” and urged the Trump administration’s nominee for ambassador to Riyadh to hold the country accountable for human rights abuses. The comments by Rubio (R-Fla.) drew agreement from others on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and underscored the ongoing bipartisan frustration among U.S. lawmakers with the oil-rich Arab kingdom. The ambassadorial nominee, retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, stressed that the U.S. relationship with the Saudis was bigger than the crown prince, and that the best way to change conditions in the Arab kingdom was through engagement.