Landslide in Southeast Myanmar Kills at Least 10 People

Landslide in Southeast Myanmar Kills at Least 10 People

A landslide buried more than a dozen village houses in southeastern Myanmar, killing at least 10 people and injuring nearly 30, media reported Saturday.

Rescuers were using backhoes and bulldozers to clear the mud and debris from the village in Paung township. The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that some residents were still missing.

The top official in Mon state, Aye Zan, visited the site and villagers who were evacuated to a relief camp to escape floods following torrential rains.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that monsoon flooding had displaced more than 7,000 people this week in Mon state. Apart from the landslide in Paung, houses and a school in other townships were washed away, roads were blocked and villages were submerged.

Nearly 12,000 people have been displaced in Myanmar this week alone, bringing the total number of those in evacuation centers to more than 38,000, the U.N. said.

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At Least 42 Killed in Indian Landslides, Flooding

Indian officials say at least 42 people have been killed in landslides and flooding caused by heavy rains.  

Emergency officials say 100,000 people have been evacuated. The Indian state of Kerala has been worst hit, but Karnataka and Maharashtra states are also affected.

June to September is India’s monsoon season which brings the heavy rains that farmers depend on, but the rains also bring heavy death and destruction.

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Islamic State Working to Make US Military’s Fears Come True

In the 4½ months since U.S.-backed forces declared victory over the Islamic State terror group’s last shred of territory in Syria, there has been a steady drumbeat of doubt.

One by one, military leaders, diplomats and experts began raising concerns, aiming to convince policymakers that for all of the success in rolling back IS’s self-declared caliphate, the group was far from dead.

“This is not the end of the fight,” U.S. Special Representative for Syria Ambassador James Jeffrey warned, just days after the victory celebrations in Syria in late March.

“That will go on,” he said. “It is a different type of fight.”

FILE – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey, and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Oct. 17, 2018.

A series of new reports, citing intelligence from United Nations member states, the U.S. military and other sources, now indicate it is a fight that IS is increasingly well-positioned to win.

“As long as it can gain revenue, it will remain a danger,” the Rand Corp. declared Thursday in “Return and Expand?” a report on the terror group’s finances and prospects following the collapse of its caliphate.

IS assets

The Rand report estimates IS had perhaps in excess of $400 million in assets by early 2019.

Intelligence from U.N. member states, included in another recent report, indicates even after the fall of the caliphate, IS may still have up to $300 million at its disposal.

But even if the actual figure is lower, there are no indications that efforts to defeat IS has left the terror group wanting.

“It still has certainly more than enough money to survive for quite a while,” Rand senior economist Howard Shatz, one of the authors of the Rand report, told VOA.

“It’s a cash organization. Its expenses had to match its revenues,” he said. “We haven’t seen evidence of drawing from reserves or expenses outstripping revenues.”

And despite repeated strikes targeting senior IS leaders in Syria and Iraq, the group’s infrastructure and financial leadership has remained solid.

“It is possible to lower their level of effort, to lower their competency,” Shatz said. “But if there’s any let up, they do have people who are in the organization, come up through the organization, and take over.”

“Some of those people will be better. Some of those people will be worse. But the people are there,” he said.

Estimated number of fighters

The best U.S. estimates indicate an IS pool of anywhere from 14,000 to 18,000 so-called members across Syria and Iraq, many of whom are thought to be fighters.

While many of those fighters have gone underground, others remain active, targeting key community leaders in Syria and Iraq for assassinations, and burning crops to create turmoil.

Officials with Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led military operation to counter IS, also warn the terror group has solidified in capabilities, enhancing its command and control and logistics infrastructure in Iraq.

Military and diplomatic officials say IS also has retained support in rural parts of Iraq, especially in areas extending south of Mosul all the way to Baghdad, the capital.

In Syria, where military officials describe IS as “resurgent,” the group is using large displaced persons camps, like the one at al-Hol, to its advantage.

Despite efforts by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to provide security for al-Hol, coalition officials warned the U.S. Defense Department inspector general that thousands of IS supporters have been able to spread the group’s ideology “uncontested.”

“We have been clear that there is work left to do,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said.

“ISIS has prepared its resources to operate underground,” he said, adding that in the face of the terror groups’ resurgence, “we continue to work with allies and partners to enable stabilization efforts.”

FILE – The chief of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, purportedly appears for the first time in five years in a propaganda video in an undisclosed location, in this undated TV grab taken from video released April 29 by Al-Furqan media.

In some ways, this is what U.S. military officials have been worried about since last year, when the Pentagon warned that despite mounting territorial losses, IS was “well-positioned to rebuild and work on enabling its physical caliphate to re-emerge.”

According to a recent U.N. report, rebuilding efforts would still seem to include key IS leaders, including the group’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“This process is more advanced in Iraq, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and most of the [IS] leadership are now based,” the report said, a conclusion supported by some Western intelligence officials.

Key leaders survived

The U.N. said other key leaders have also survived “elsewhere in the former ‘caliphate’ area and parts of the immediate neighborhood,” though the report admits communication remains difficult.

The U.S.-led coalition has, at times, described the terror group’s current strategy as “strategic patience.”

“While their leadership hides for the sake of self-preservation, some groups of fighters have been attempting to create safe havens,” the coalition told VOA in a statement.

Still, there is persistent concern that even as IS seeks to regain its relevance on the battlefield, it is finding success in using social media to recreate the perception it is as relevant as ever.

This past April, al-Baghdadi was able to deliver his first video speech since he was shown giving a sermon in July 2014 at the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq.

“Jihad continues until judgment day,” al-Baghdadi said, urging IS followers to fight on.

FILE -  This image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq.
IS Claims Video Shows Reclusive Leader, Calls for Revenge

The Islamic State issued a new video Monday claiming to show its reclusive leader delivering a message to his followers, urging them to seek revenge for the fall of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate In Iraq and Syria.

The more than 18-minute-long video posted to the internet by IS’s al-Furqan media division shows a man, allegedly Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sitting cross-legged against a white backdrop with a machine gun and a couple of pillows by his side. 

The man is seen speaking with other IS members, whose faces are blurred or covered with masks, acknowledging the recent fall of the

In the past few months, IS has also ramped up its video messaging, showing fighters from Africa, East Asia, the Caucuses and elsewhere renewing their pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi.

“The so-called ISIS caliphate has been destroyed,” State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales said while briefing reporters earlier this month. “But the ISIS brand lives on around the world.”

Researchers, though, fear IS has one more card to play as the group seeks to reassert itself — its detailed record-keeping for the areas it once ruled.

“We know during the time of the caliphate, the Islamic State was recording financial details about individuals living in its territory,” said Shatz, the Rand economist.

“I don’t think that information goes away,” he said, adding when the time is right, the group knows whom to squeeze. “There are a lot of people now who are known to the Islamic State who the Islamic State could come to and try to get money from.”

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На Донбасі 9 серпня втрат не було – штаб ООС

У зоні бойових дій на Донбасі 9 серпня втрат серед українських військових не було, повідомляє штаб операції Об’єднаних сил. За цими даними, підтримувані Росією бойовики здійснили шість обстрілів позицій українських військових.

Ще два обстріли своїх позицій із боку бойовиків українські військові зафіксували після початку доби 10 серпня.

В угрупованні «ЛНР» українських військових звинуватили в одному обстрілі 9 серпня.

В угрупованні «ДНР» про бойові дії 9 серпня не повідомляли.

На засіданні Тристоронньої контактної групи в Мінську 17 липня домовилися про перемир’я на Донбасі з півночі 21 липня.

Сторони також домовилися про механізми контролю за дотриманням перемир’я і дисциплінарні заходи в разі його порушень; про відмову від наступальних дій і диверсійних операцій.

Перемир’я, про які домовлялися на засіданнях Тристоронньої контактної групи в Мінську, порушувалися практично відразу. При цьому сторони заперечують свою вину в цих порушеннях і звинувачують противників у провокаціях.

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Частина Великої Британії була без електроенергії

Значна частина Великої Британії, зокрема частини Лондона, на якийсь час лишилася без електроенергії через значну аварію в енергосистемі. Це сталося у вечірній «час пік» і зашкодило транспортному рухові – зокрема, зупинилися електропотяги.

«Національна мережа», електро- і газопостачальна компанія в Англії і Вельсі, повідомила, що аварія сталася через проблеми з двома генераторами, але ці проблеми вже вирішили.

Перерва в енергопостачанні сталася в багатьох регіонах Англії і у Вельсі. Електрики не було лічені хвилини, близько 15, але це призвело до серйозних наслідків.

Зокрема, по всій країні був порушений залізничний рух. В уражених місцевостях затримували чи взагалі скасовували залізничні рейси у п’ятничний вечірній «час пік». Електропотяги, що вже були в дорозі, позупинялися.

Також не працювали світлофори в частині Лондона.

Інші частини столиці не потерпіли. Зокрема, не зазнали шкоди від вимкнення електрики головні аеропорти – Гітроу, Ґатвік і Лутон.

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В РНБО вирішили, що будуть робити з «Укроборонпромом»

У Раді національної безпеки і оборони на координаційній нараді з питань реформування військово-промислового комплексу вирішили, що будуть робити з державним концерном «Укроборонпром», діяльність якого викликає критику.

У нараді, яку провів секретар РНБО Олександр Данилюк, узяли участь члени наглядової ради і генеральний директор «Укроборонпрому», радники секретаря і працівники апарату РНБО, а також представники уряду США: старший радник США з питань військово-промислового комплексу України Дональд Вінтер, тимчасовий повірений у справах США в Україні Вільям Тейлор, співробітники американського посольства та оборонних відомств.

«Ключовими темами наради стали процес реформування загальної системи управління у сфері ВПК, зокрема, ДК «Укроборонпром». Учасники обговорили перспективні напрями розвитку концерну і процес формування нової моделі державного управління в сфері ВПК. За підсумками наради було ухвалено рішення щодо державного органу, який має виконувати функцію акціонера ДК «Укроборонпром», структури і принципів формування й роботи наглядової ради, побудови маркетингової стратегії і системи продаж у ДК «Укроборонпром». Крім того, учасники наради досягли згоди щодо проведення всебічного аудиту концерну», – повідомили в РНБО.

«Укроборонпром» повинен стати прикладом ефективної системи управління державною компанією. Враховуючи специфіку, це має бути бізнес із чіткою основною місією – забезпечення українських військових усім необхідним», – заявив на нараді Данилюк.

У Генеральній прокуратурі України 22 липня повідомляли, що cпівробітники Генпрокуратури спільно з СБУ провели обшуки в службових приміщеннях Кабміну, Держприкордонслужби, Фіскальної служби і підприємства «Спецтехноекспорт» у кримінальному провадженні за фактом розкрадання коштів на суму понад 6 мільйонів доларів, в якому фігурує ДП «Укроборонпром».

Перед тим, 22 травня, прем’єр-міністр Володимир Гройсман повідомляв, що Кабінет міністрів виділив 32 мільйони гривень на аудит «Укроборонпрому».

Тодішній президент Петро Порошенко 6 березня повідомляв на засіданні РНБО, що Україна ініціює міжнародну комплексну перевірку діяльності державного концерну «Укроборонпром». 16 березня він указом увів у дію рішення РНБО щодо цього аудиту.

Державний концерн «Укроборонпром» об’єднує понад 100 підприємств-учасників у галузі оборонної промисловості, зокрема, розробки й виготовлення озброєння та техніки, наукової діяльності й експортно-імпортних операцій.

У лютому концерн опинився у центрі скандалу після того, як журналісти антикорупційного проекту «Bihus.info» опублікували розслідування про суми «відкатів» і схеми розкрадання мільйонів в оборонній сфері. Незабаром після оприлюднення розслідування були затримані кілька чинних і колишніх посадовців ДП «Спецтехноекспорт», що входить до складу «Укроборонпрому». Їх вважають причетними до розтрати коштів держпідприємства оборонної галузі на суму 55,5 мільйонів гривень.

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US Envoy Tells Germany: Spend More on Defense or We Move Troops to Poland

An envoy of U.S. President Donald Trump suggested on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unwillingness to boost defense spending might give the United States no choice but to move American troops stationed in Germany to Poland.

The comments by Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, signal Trump’s impatience with Merkel’s failure to raise defense spending to 2% of economic output as mandated by the NATO military alliance.

“It is offensive to assume that the U.S. taxpayers continue to pay for more than 50,000 Americans in Germany but the Germans get to spend their [budget] surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell told the dpa news agency.

Germany’s fiscal plans foresee the defense budget of NATO’s second-largest member rising to 1.37% of output next year before falling to 1.24% in 2023.

FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, Dec. 27, 2018.

Eastern European countries like Poland and Latvia, fearful of Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, have raised their military spending to the 2% target, drawing praise from Trump who wants Germany to do the same.

Deteriorating relations

U.S. complaints about Germany’s defense spending pre-date Trump but relations with the United States have deteriorated since he became president.

The two allies do not see eye-to-eye on a range of issues, including Iran, trade tariffs and the NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Trump said in June he would deploy 1,000 U.S. troops from Germany to Poland, which sees the measure as deterrence against possible aggression from Russia.

Georgette Mosbacher, U.S. ambassador to Poland, has made a similar criticism of Germany’s reluctance to commit more financial resources to NATO.

“Poland meets its 2% of GDP spending obligation towards NATO. Germany does not. We would welcome American troops in Germany to come to Poland,” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

U.S. troops

The United States has more than 33,000 soldiers in Germany and an additional 17,000 U.S. civilian employees to support them. It is believed the United States also has nuclear warheads in Germany.

“President Trump is right and Georgette Mosbacher is right,” Grenell told dpa. “Multiple presidents have asked Europe’s largest economy to pay for its own defense. This request has been made over many years and by many presidents.”

Grenell added that the United States must react if Germany continues to ignore Trump’s demand to boost defense spending.

Trump travels to France this month for the G-7 summit, where Iran will be a major topic. Trump will also visit Poland and Denmark.

Grenell earlier this month criticized Germany for showing reluctance to join a planned U.S. naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz, close to Iran.

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Trump Administration Moves to Limit State Powers to Block Pipelines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday unveiled a proposal that would curb state powers to block pipelines and other energy projects, as part of the Trump administration’s effort to boost domestic oil, gas and coal development.

The move, swiftly criticized by an organization representing progressive states, comes four months after President Donald Trump ordered the EPA to change a section of the U.S. Clean Water Act that states like New York and Washington have used in recent years to delay pipelines and terminals.

“When implemented, this proposal will streamline the process for constructing new energy infrastructure projects that are good for American families, American workers, and the American economy,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release announcing the move.

The EPA’s proposal is centered on changes to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which allows states and tribes to block energy projects on environmental grounds, it said.

David Hayes, director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, part of the New York University Law School, which coordinates policy with state attorneys general, said the proposal runs counter to the Trump administration’s promises to support so-called “cooperative federalism” in which states are given broad authority to decide policy.

“The Trump administration gives lip service to ‘cooperative federalism,’ but it practices ‘fair-weather federalism,” he said. “It’s a hypocritical double standard.”

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Курс гривні в понеділок зросте на 22 копійки – НБУ

Офіційний курс гривні щодо долара 12 серпня зміцниться ще на 22 копійки – такі дані Національного банку України.

Згідно з офіційним курсом НБУ, 12 серпня долар коштуватиме 25 гривень 9 копійок, тоді як 9 серпня курс становить 25,31 гривні.

Міжбанківські торги, згідно з нішевим сайтом «Мінфін», 9 серпня завершилися на позначці 25,17-25,21 гривні за долар.

На 1 серпня НБУ встановив найвищий за останні три з половиною роки курс гривні до долара – 25,02 за одиницю американської валюти.

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«Нафтогаз» просить Окружний адмінсуд скасувати постанову уряду щодо ціни на газ

Національна акціонерна енергетична компанія «Нафтогаз» звернулася до Окружного адміністративного суду з позовом до Кабінету міністрів, повідомляє прес-служба суду.

Згідно з повідомленням, «Нафтогаз» просить суд скасувати постанову уряду, яка регламентувала розрахунки ціни на газ для населення.

«Позивач просить суд визнати протиправною та нечинною постанову Уряду від 5 червня 2019 року №485 «Про внесення змін до постанови Кабінету Міністрів України від 3 квітня 2019 р. №293». Наразі судом вирішується питання про відкриття провадження за даним адміністративним позовом», – йдеться в повідомленні суду.

Читайте також: «Нафтогаз» у серпні знизить ціну на газ для населення ще на 265 гривень – уряд​

У червні прем’єр-міністр Володимир Гройсман заявив, що Кабінет міністрів зобов’яже НАК «Нафтогаз» встановити ціну на газ для населення в червні 8 тисяч гривень за тисячу кубометрів.

Згідно з урядовим рішенням, ухваленим на засіданні 3 квітня, якщо кон’юнктура газового ринку демонструє зниження цін на газ для промисловості, «Нафтогаз» зобов’язаний продавати газ для населення за ціною, що визначається як середньоарифметична ціна газу, за якою державна компанія пропонує паливо промисловим споживачам за умови передоплати.

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Thai Prime Minister Not Quitting for Botching Oath

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday he is not quitting despite facing mounting criticism for failing to properly take his oath of office.

Prayuth led the inauguration of his Cabinet in a ceremony presided over by the king on July 16.

However, he omitted a phrase in the oath of office in which he was supposed to pledge to uphold every aspect of the constitution. The omission has raised questions over whether the inauguration was legally valid.

Prayuth told reporters Friday that he was continuing to conduct his duties “to the best of my abilities because I am the prime minister.”

The oath of office is required under Article 161 of Thailand’s Constitution, which includes the complete oath and states it must be said to the king before Cabinet ministers take office.

Prayuth’s failure to recite the oath in full, which also led to other ministers making the same error because they repeated what he said, was pointed out by opposition politician Piyabutr Saengkanokkul during a Parliament session on July 25.

Legal activist Srisuwan Janya filed a complaint over the issue to the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday which has been accepted for consideration.

Prayuth led a military junta that seized power in 2014 and was dissolved with the inauguration of the new Cabinet. The junta had ruled with a heavy fist and regularly cracked down on its critics. It also introduced new election laws to favor Prayuth’s return as prime minister.

Mongkolkit Suksintaranont, a leader of a political party that was part of Prayuth’s coalition, said on Thursday that he and four other parties which hold single seats in the House of Representatives were leaving the coalition.

“I did not think that being part of the government coalition would mean that we would have such little freedom,” Mongkolkit said, adding that he had been told to refrain from criticizing the government in Parliament sessions.

When asked how he would handle the issue of the Cabinet’s incomplete oath of office, Mongkolkit said, “If I was prime minister, I would have resigned already.”

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Yemen’s Famine: Not Enough Food – and Plenty of Blame to Go Around

The World Food Program’s partial aid suspension in Yemen has increased concerns for families.

Mohammed Qaid worries for his four-day-old boy Nazeh.  Qaid has seven other children, and little hope that he can feed his family.  But this family is not the only household feeling the pinch of the recent reduction in food aid delivered to Sana’a.  

Qaid is among the thousands of residents in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, a Houthi stronghold, who is dependent on international humanitarian aid in the midst of the conflict.  The war has ravaged Qaid’s life, and his family now survives on scraps. “We’re now sort of dependent on restaurants’ leftover rice,” he told VOA.  “We pay dishwashers $0.80 for collecting leftover rice.”
 
Destitute and hungry, families have resorted to sending their children out to collect leftover rice granules.  Qaid tells VOA his young sons were crying the morning of the interview because he could not afford to pay the cost of two eggs, opting instead for tea. 

Normally, Qaid’s family would have received a monthly basket from the World Food Program consisting of 75 kilograms of wheat, two bottles of cooking oil, sugar, and lentils.  That stopped when WFP shipments were held up due to a standoff between the agency and the Houthi authorities.  Both sides had disagreed over who would be responsible for monitoring the food routing system.  U.N. officials now say they have the Houthi’s agreement to implement a biometric registration system to prevent diversion of food aid.  

FILE – Men deliver U.N. World Food Program (WFP) aid in Aslam, Hajjah, Yemen, Sept. 21, 2018.

The WFP says partial food aid to 850,000 people in Sana’a will resume next week, but the relief is not coming soon enough for many struggling to survive as the war heads into its sixth year.  

The conflict began in 2014 when the internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi was run out of the capital, Sana’a, by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.  Prompted by rife political corruption and mounting civil unrest, the rebels took the capital and have been fighting against a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which seeks to restore the previous government.   

As the war rages, 13 million Yemeni civilians on the ground face starvation.  U.N. officials say Yemen is suffering the world’s current largest humanitarian crisis and one of the largest man-induced famines in history. 

Critics identify two main culprits.  The first are the Houthi rebels, who have been accused of unlawfully confiscating food and reselling aid to fund the war.  The second is Saudi Arabia, whose campaign of air strikes and bombings of civilians has been labelled by the international rights group Human Rights Watch as illegal.  These attacks have not only made it difficult for Yemen to produce food, but also hampered efforts to get food aid to the people who need it most.   

Aid workers say grain often rots as supply routes are regularly attacked.  Saudi air strikes have not only targeted mosques, schools, stores and homes, but farms, grain storage units, seaports, and food factories. 

The food shipments that do make it through are often not getting to where they are most needed.  Speaking at the U.N. Security Council last year, WFP director David Beasley said there is “serious evidence that food was being diverted and going to the wrong people.”   As many as 60% of residents of the capital, he said, were not receiving food. 

FILE – A severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen, Oct. 1, 2018.

 
WFP officials say using a biometric registration system that includes iris scanning, facial recognition, and fingerprints will help identify those who need aid the most and combat corruption in distribution.

Critics at the United Nations, WHO, and even within the United States, point to the U.S. role, which they say is propelling the conflict by selling billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. 

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia had agreed to spend $110 billion in “leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.”   While the arms deal mostly consists of letters of intent and is a far smaller number than the detailed $110 billion, the kingdom’s anti-terrorism campaign, along with its efforts to contain Iranian influence, are in line with Washington’s wider strategic interests in the region.  Houthis oppose this arms deal because they view Saudi Arabia as pandering to western influence and not supporting pan-Arab culture.   

While some claim the U.S. bears indirect responsibility for Yemen’s food shortages, others point, paradoxically, to America’s role in saving millions of Yemenis from starvation.  The United States donates approximately $2.5 billion annually–more than Britain, and Germany and other EU members combined. 

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