6 December 2018
| The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had advised against Malaysia’s involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemeni civil war in 2015, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
In addition, it had said at the time that there is no need to evacuate the 198 Malaysians still in Yemen then.
This was revealed by Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong today when he read out in Parliament parts of two letters written by the Ministry of Defence’s Policy and Strategic Planning Division.
The first letter – dated May 6, 2015 and addressed to the Malaysian Armed Forces Headquarters – outlined the procedural requirements for deploying troops to participate in the Saudi-led “Operation Renewal of Hope”, as well as Wisma Putra’s official views on the matter.
“The following are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs views: firstly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is of the view that the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) should not participate in any military mission in the Middle East led by Saudi Arabia or any military or security mission related to the Yemen issue except under the UN or Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) banner.
“Secondly, any humanitarian aid mission involving MAF troops in relation to the security crisis in Yemen should come only after a security resolution has been passed by the UN Security Council or the OIC, and not put under Saudi control.
“Thirdly, at this time, there is no need for an evacuation for the 198 remaining Malaysian citizens in Yemen. Moreover, they have clearly stated that they don’t want to leave Yemen,” Liew said, reading from the letter.
The letter goes on to quote Wisma Putra saying that if Malaysia were to join the Saudi-led intervention, it would relegate the then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates to irrelevance.
It said it is also appropriate for Malaysia to maintain a neutral stance towards the internal affairs of any country since Malaysia is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Apart from the outlining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ views, the division also said in the letter that the operation and its financial implications need to be debated in both houses of Parliament or at least in a cabinet meeting.
In its second letter dated May 26, 2015, the division said the international media had reported on Malaysia’s military presence in Saudi Arabia and this was detrimental to Malaysia’s image in the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
It also said that, at the time, no military assets had been used to evacuate Malaysians.
“The division wishes to stress that the Committee for the Evacuation of Malaysians from Yemen that is chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and joined by various agencies such as the National Security Council and the Ministry of Defence has never made any request to deploy MAF personnel or assets to Saudi Arabia.
“To date, the mission to evacuate Malaysians from Yemen had only used commercial assets managed by the Prime Minister’s Department’s research division,” Liew read from the letter.
We raised our suspicions two years ago in 2016 when Saudi Arabia bragged about their massive military exercise – Northern Thunder – which involved 350,000 troops from 20 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, Djibouti, Mauritania, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, Tunisia, Morocco, Comoros, Mauritius, Egypt, Maldives and Malaysia.
Saudi news media boasted that the force included 2,540 aircraft, 460 helicopters and 20,000 armoured vehicles, arguably the largest military operation in the region since the liberation of Kuwait in 1990’s Operation Desert Storm. But it raised the red flag, simply because Malaysia was the only country in the Southeast Asia involved in the military exercise (from February 16 until March 4, 2016).
The funniest thing was when the “Operation Northern Thunder” was exposed, the then-Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he was clueless, or pretended to be clueless, about the country’s involvement. According to Bernama, the official Malaysian government mouthpiece, Mr. Hishammuddin was reduced to seeking clarification from the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) on the matter.
The Operation Northern Thunder was nothing but a “face-saving” exercise by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to hide the humiliating failure of its war in Yemen. Started a year earlier in March 2015 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Arabian-led 10-nation of Arab states could not defeat – until today – the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Yemeni Civil War.
It was no coincidence that the military exercise was conducted in a place called Hafar Al-Batin, located in the North of Saudi Arabia. The city is located just 94.2 km from the Kuwait border, and about 74.3 from the Iraq border, not to mention its nearest point to Iran. The exercise was to send a warning messageto Iran that Saudi and its allies, including Malaysia, could mobilize a massive army.
Now that the previous Najib regime had collapsed the past abuse of power has emerged to haunt both scumbags cousin brothers. On Monday (Dec 3), Deputy Defense Minister Liew Chin Tong revealed that since June 11, 2015, about 27 officers and 62 rank-and-file troops were deployed to Saudi for “Ops Yemen 2” – without approval from the Cabinet.
Mr. Liew’s claim has since received confirmation from Khairy Jamaluddin, former Youth and Sports Minister who served the previous Najib regime. With the confirmation from Mr. Khairy that the military was deployed without proper approval, the new government has yet again exposed another mini scandalinvolving the previous administration.
Apparently, there were two operations – “Ops Yemen 1” and “Ops Yemen 2″. The first operation involved the deployment of 26 officers, 16 rank-and-file troops and two C130 aircraft in Riyadh on April 6, 2015. The mission was to evacuate Malaysians from war-torn Yemen. About 763 Malaysian students were reportedly evacuated under Ops Yemen 1.
While everything seemed to be in order for Ops Yemen 1, the same cannot be said about the second operation. The new government reveals that Ops Yemen 2 was not to evacuate Malaysians from the conflict zone, but instead to assist the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in the Yemen war. This means Hishammuddin had literally lied when he said the soldiers were not involved in the Yemeni Civil War at all.
Mr. Liew exposed that not only the Ops Yemen 2 had cost RM14.6 million of taxpayers’ money, the secretive operation also involved 12 missions to bring in explosives, spare parts, bullets and other equipment that belonged to the Arab Alliance. Thanks to Hishammuddin, the Malaysian Armed Forces were treated like errand boys by the Saudi Arabia in its little game of war in Yemen.
The Ops Yemen 2 involved 27 officers and 62 rank-and-file troops being deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since June 11, 2015. Fortunately, the troops were withdrawn following the new Pakatan Harapan government’s decision on Sept 4 this year, after the historic victory in the May 9 polls which saw the previous Barisan Nasional lost its power for the first time in 61 years since independence in 1957.
Caught with his pants down, the disgraced Hishammuddin now claims that the Ops Yemen 2 did not go through the standard operating procedure of obtaining Cabinet approval because the matter was handled by the National Security Council (NSC). He also argued that there were still over 700 Malaysians left in Yemen, obviously trying to justify his “abuse of power” and infringement of the law.
Ops Yemen 2 was never about evacuating the so-called 700 Malaysians because the Deputy Defense Minister Liew Chin Tong has clarified that they did not want to be evacuated but had chosen to remain behind. Hishammuddin tried to hide behind the NSC, but in reality, the National Security Council was not formed to send military overseas, let alone for combat operations.
Although the NSC report directly to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, its core functions are to defend national sovereignty, manage crisis and disaster and border management of land, maritime and air. In a nutshell, NSC is to defend the country from domestic and international threats. Clearly, the country wasn’t under any threat whatsoever during the period of Ops Yemen 1 and Ops Yemen 2.
Instead, the ex-PM Najib Razak, who chaired the NSC, along with his cousin’s ex-Defence Minister Hishammuddin as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs (Anifah Aman) and the Minister of Communications and Multimedia (Salleh Said Keruak), had chosen to interfere with foreign conflicts – Yemeni Civil War – and sanctioned the army’s provision of logistical support for the Arab military pact.
The burning question is – did the Chief Secretary to the Government (Ali Hamsa), Chief of Defense Forces (CDF General Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP Khalid Abu Bakar) was being complicit in risking the lives of innocent soldiers? All of them were part of NSC executive members, and were supporters of crooked Najib Razak, therefore, should be grilled.
More importantly, Najib Razak and cousin Hishammuddin Hussein may have committed an act of treason of the highest order for unlawfully used NSC to operate the Ops Yemen 2 with the intention of sucking up to the Saudi Arabia royal family in exchange for the infamous RM2.6 billion donation (which turned out to be corruption and money laundering scheme).
It’s also safe to presume that the “Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King)”, who is the Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces, was not consulted at all before the deployment of the military to the Middle East. It is certainly a betrayal and an insult to the Commander-in-Chief if he wasn’t consulted on the military operations despite being the highest-ranking officer in the military chain of command.
PETALING JAYA: A veterans group today questioned Hishammuddin Hussein’s response to the deployment of troops in support of the Saudi-led Arab coalition offensive in Yemen, saying the former defence minister’s referral to the National Security Council (NSC) raises more questions than answers.
“Is he implying that the NSC is the authority to sanction the deployment of Armed Forces troops overseas?” the National Patriots Association (Patriot) said in a statement.
“Is he saying that the Cabinet or Parliament has no role in sanctioning troop deployments overseas? Is he saying that the Armed Forces chief’s committee need not be consulted and can be bypassed?”
Patriot president Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji urged Hishammuddin to explain where it is stipulated in the NSC Act that the council is empowered to deploy forces overseas and be part of a force engaged in war with another country.
“Hishamuddin must also explain what he meant by saying the information (relating to the deployment) must be declassified as it is of national importance.
“Is deploying troops to fight alongside another country that is at war deemed to be of national importance? Was there some form of a defence arrangement or an agreement between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia wherein Malaysia was obligated to assist Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen?”
Arshad added that the people had been told the troops in Saudi Arabia were on standby to extricate Malaysians in Yemen back to Malaysia.
“If true, why were the troops there for more than three years? The mission for such an operation could have been accomplished in less than a month.”
He also maintained that the deployment of troops to assist Saudi Arabia in Yemen was illegal as it had not been authorised by the Cabinet or Parliament.
“The war in Yemen has been repeatedly accused by human rights groups of unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets, which amount to war crimes,” he said.
“It is also seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which Malaysia has no business in.”