Category: United Land of Yemen


November 13, 2017

CAIRO (AP) — Saudi Arabia said Monday that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen will begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world’s poorest country, days after closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

The announcement from the Saudi mission at the United Nations came after the coalition fighting Yemen’s rebels, known as Houthis, and their allies faced widespread international criticism over the closure, with the U.N. and over 20 aid groups saying it could bring millions of people closer to “starvation and death.”

“The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by” Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs, the mission’s statement said.

Those ports are in Aden, Mocha and Mukalla. For ports in rebel-held or disputed territories, like Hodeida, the mission said it had asked the U.N. to send a team of experts to discuss ways to make sure weapons can’t be smuggled in.

The Saudi-led coalition hopes that will prevent “the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices to the Houthi rebels,” the statement said.

Saudi Arabia announced it shut down all ports after a Nov. 4 ballistic missile attack on Riyadh near its international airport by the Houthis. Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore “Iranian markings.” The Houthis have denied that.

For its part, Iran long has denied offering any arms to Yemen, though it has backed the Houthis and highlighted the high civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign of airstrikes.

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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07.06.2017

The move came days after the coalition terminated Qatar’s membership in the anti-Houthi bloc, which has been launching an air campaign against Houthi rebels, who overran Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces in 2014.

According to QNA, top army brass had welcomed the troops on Tuesday.

On Monday, five Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen – cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Qatar denied the accusations, saying the move to cut ties with it was “unjustified” and aimed to impose guardianship on the Gulf country.

The new escalation came two weeks after the website of Qatar’s official news agency was allegedly hacked by unknown individuals who reportedly published statements falsely attributed to its emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani.

The incident triggered a diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighbors, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Anadolu Agency.

Link: http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/qatari-forces-in-anti-houthi-coalition-return-to-doha/836255.

December 17, 2016

A senior Iranian military commander has threatened further wars of conquest after describing the recent collapse of the Syrian opposition in Aleppo as an “Islamic conquest”, as footage has appeared showing Syrian refugees attempting to evacuate the ravaged city being shot at by Iran-backed Shia jihadists.

In comments to local Iranian media, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Hossein Salami said: “It is now time for the Islamic conquests. After the liberation of Aleppo, Bahrain’s hopes will be realized and Yemen will be happy with the defeat of the enemies of Islam.”

The IRGC commander also said that “the people of Mosul will taste the taste of victory,” in reference to the ongoing Mosul operations.

The taste of “victory”, however, tasted of blood and terror in Aleppo as the Middle East correspondent for BuzzFeed News tweeted footage of what pro-Assad regime Iranian proxies were doing there.

Borzou Daragahi tweeted “This is what hell on earth looks like,” as video footage from the devastated city shows “hungry, freezing men, women and children” who are trying to evacuate Aleppo are fired upon by the Shia jihadists.

This footage was supported by further reports and footage from Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah. Jarrah’s footage shows witnesses recounting their stories of how their convoy that was travelling with the Red Cross was waylaid by the Assad regime.

As the men in the video are talking, they and a vast convoy of cars come under attack by Assad regime, creating panic as people try to escape.

Iran’s ’empire’ and ‘Shia Liberation Army’

Salami’s comments are not the first to emerge from within influential and powerful Iranian official circles.

In March 2015, Presidential Adviser Ali Younesi said that the Iraqi capital of Baghdad was now a “capital of the Iranian empire,” inflaming the Arab world and especially Iraqis who have felt Iran’s pervading and dominating influence in their country.

Last November, Iranian army Chief of Staff General Mohammed Bagheri said that his country would in all likelihood set up military bases in Yemen, Syria and other Arab countries.

Speaking to the state-run Mashregh news agency in August, retired IRGC General Mohammad Ali Falaki said that Iran had created a “Shia Liberation Army” under the command of IRGC Qods Force commander Brigadier-General Qassem Soleimani.

According to Falaki, the Shia Liberation Army was already active on three “fronts” in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161217-iran-threatens-bahrain-yemen-with-islamic-conquest-like-aleppo/.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Yemeni army source said they removed 36,000 landmines which Houthi militias and forces loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh had planted in the Marib province.

Brigadier General Sheikh Zayd Thabet, chief of the military engineering unit in the national army, told reporters that thousands of the mines they found date back to the era of World War II, in addition to other Russian and Iranian-made mines and locally-produced mines, adding that they have so far destroyed 6,500 mines.

A recent Yemeni human rights report said 47 civilians were killed in Marib while 98 others were injured by these mines.

Popular resistance sources had said Houthi militias and forces loyal to Saleh have planted more than 40,000 mines in different areas in Taiz since March 2015. Human Rights Watch said in a report that 23 people were killed and 56 others were injured in Taiz by these mines.

Official sources in al-Jawf province had said that the rebels planted more than 30,000 mines in the province.

Source: al-Arabiya English.

Link: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2016/11/30/Yemeni-army-removes-over-30-000-landmines-in-Marib.html.

Tue Nov 29, 2016

The formation of a new government by Yemen’s armed Houthi movement and its political allies will hinder peace efforts in the country, the U.N. special envoy to Yemen said on Tuesday.

The move, reported by the Houthi-run state news agency on Monday, has been seen as a blow to U.N.-backed efforts to end 20 months of war in Yemen.

“The announcement by (the Houthi) Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress on the formation of a new government in Sana’a 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,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement.

The unilateral declaration contradicted recent comments by the Houthis to the U.N. and to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and only complicated the search for a peace deal, which needed to be based on U.N. talks, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

“There is still a chance to pull Yemen back from the brink,” he said, adding that all parties to the conflict should recommit to a cessation of hostilities, including a complete halt to ground and air military activities.

The formation of the new government was also condemned by the Gulf Cooperation Council, whose member Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition backing Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the internationally recognized president.

The coalition has carried out thousands of air strikes on the Houthis but failed to dislodge them from the capital Sanaa.

“The step of forming a government indicates the enormous importance of reinforcing our domestic position and serving the people, despite the difficult economic situation,” the Houthi group’s leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, said in a statement carried on the website of a Houthi-controlled news channel.

Diplomats had hoped the Houthis, who control Sanaa, would hold off on putting together a cabinet of their loyalists and instead form a unity government with their Yemeni foes, whom they pushed into Saudi exile.

The Houthis, who control territory with more than half of Yemen’s population, previously said forming a government with their allies did not mean abandoning the U.N.-sponsored peace process.

(Reporting by Tom Miles, Katie Paul and Ali Abdelatti; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Source: Reuters.

Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-un-idUSKBN13O2K1.

SANAA (BNO NEWS) — Tens of thousands of people protested across Yemen on Thursday to urge the international community to support their demands as tensions continue to escalate in the conflict-ridden country, according to media reports.

Anti-government protesters took to the streets of the Yemeni capital Sana’a and other provinces to send a message to the international community to support their demands of change, freedom and a civil state. The uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh has claimed at least 1,500 lives since February.

The United Nations is trying to persuade President Saleh to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) brokered deal – which he refused to ink three times previously. Saleh has repeatedly said he is committed to the deal, though he has so far refused to sign it, the DPA news agency reported.

The GCC-proposed plan includes guarantees that Saleh will not be prosecuted after his resignation within 30 days from the acceptance date. It also calls to hold presidential elections within two months from the date of Saleh’s departure as well as the establishment of a new government within 90 days.

Tensions have further escalated since Saleh returned to Yemen after spending more than three months in Saudi Arabia to recover from injuries he sustained in a rocket attack which hit the mosque of the presidential palace in Sanaa on June 3. On Saturday, Saleh said he is planning to leave power ‘in the coming days’, although a ruling party official immediately said that Saleh has no intention to leave.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved.)

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate (BNO News).

Link: http://wireupdate.com/news/thousands-of-yemenis-demand-international-support.html.

Paris (AFP)

Aug 18, 2016

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday said it was evacuating its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen after 19 people were killed in an air strike on one of its facilities earlier this week.

Monday’s Saudi-led coalition strike on Abs hospital in the rebel-held province of Hajja was the fourth and deadliest attack yet on an MSF facility in war-torn Yemen, according to the charity.

The decision to pull staff out “is never taken lightly”, the Paris-based aid agency said in a statement, accusing the coalition of “indiscriminate bombings and unreliable reassurances”.

“Given the intensity of the current offensive and our loss of confidence in the SLC’s (Saudi-led coalition’s) ability to prevent such fatal attacks, MSF considers the hospitals in Saada and Hajjah governorates unsafe for both patients and staff,” it added.

The hospitals will continue to be manned by local workers and volunteers, MSF said.

Yemen has been gripped by unrest since Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and allied loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

The violence increased after a Saudi-led Arab coalition launched a military campaign in March last year to help shore up the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The coalition stepped up its air strikes this month after UN-mediated peace talks between the rebels and Yemen’s internationally backed government were suspended.

– ‘Indiscriminate attacks’ –

Monday’s bombing of Abs hospital drew international condemnation, prompting the coalition to announce an independent investigation into the attack.

MSF said it had shared the hospital’s GPS coordinates with all parties involved in the conflict.

“Coalition officials repeatedly state that they honour international humanitarian law, yet this attack shows a failure to control the use of force and to avoid attacks on hospitals full of patients,” it said.

“MSF is neither satisfied nor reassured by the SLC’s statement that this attack was a mistake.”

It also accused all sides in Yemen’s war of “indiscriminate attacks without any respect for civilians”.

One MSF worker was among those killed in the Abs hospital attack, while another 24 people were wounded.

The group’s emergency coordinator Laurent Sury told AFP that “several dozen” international and Yemeni MSF workers were affected by the decision to pull out of the six hospitals.

“Our aim is to open programs, not close them, especially considering the enormous needs in the north,” he said. “But today, the minimum security conditions can no longer be guaranteed.”

He said that civilians were paying a heavy price in the conflict.

“Today in Yemen, you risk your life when you seek out care, whether you are a pregnant woman needing a Cesarean or child requiring antibiotics.”

The hospital strike was the latest in a series of coalition raids that have allegedly hit civilian facilities — including a school in the rebel stronghold of Saada on Saturday where 10 children were killed.

The UN says more than 6,500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since last March and more than 80 percent of the population needs humanitarian aid.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/MSF_evacuates_staff_from_6_Yemen_hospitals_after_air_strike_999.html.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Taiz, YEMEN – The national tricolor of Yemen could not be seen in Taiz on this year’s unity day, and its people did not celebrate. The government-in-exile cancelled Sunday’s events in answer to those planned by their Houthi enemies in the capital, Sanaa.

Instead, new flags were flying for a growing movement – the Republic of Taiz – and traditional celebrations were replaced by local protests calling for independence.

Such is the mood in Taiz, scarred by a year of war, neglected by the government and its Saudi backers, shunned by southern separatists and under siege by the Houthis, that many feel their only answer is to go it alone.

The republican movement has taken root among residents and those fighting the Houthis – the local “Popular Resistance” and regular army troops who ostensibly back the government-in-exile of President Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

And their feelings have been made known. Their red, blue and yellow flag can now be seen fluttering from many military vehicles in the city of Taiz, and protests are regularly held by civilians.

Farouq al-Samei, an independence activist in Taiz, told Middle East Eye: “When I saw the Houthis killing the civilians of my city and no one helped, I decided to demand independence.

“All sides had disappointed Taiz – even those injured in the war have been denied help. We demand independence, and then we can develop our country.”

Samei said resistance fighters and the military were at the forefront of the movement, which would push their plan after the Houthis were defeated.

“In 2011 we supported Hadi, and he did not help us. In 2015 we fought for Hadi, and again he did not help us. We will not fight for Hadi again, we are fighting for liberation, and then we will build our own country.”

“We changed our loyalty, we are loyalists to the Republic of Taiz and not Yemen, and we do not care about the north or the south, we only care about Taiz.”

Taiz faces isolation despite being caught in the nexus of Yemen’s year-long civil war. It has been besieged by Houthi fighters for months, and reinforcements from the Saudi-led coalition have never arrived.

The secessionist Southern Movement, based in Aden, has refused aid to Taiz and continues to send undocumented “northerners” back to a war zone if they are found in its territory.

On Thursday, independence activists staged their first public demonstration in Jamal Street, in the center of Taiz city. Although the protest was small, military vehicles were decked with the new standard, suggesting tacit if not outright support from military leaders.

A soldier in Taiz city told MEE: “I have been fighting the Houthis for more than one year. The Yemeni government and the coalition forces did not send enough military reinforcements for us.

“Meanwhile, the southern authorities did not allow our injured friends to recover in Aden’s hospitals. I will not fight for the sake of Hadi or his government any more, but I will fight for Taiz.”

He could not give his name for fear his leadership would revoke his pay.

Activists say the new republic would encompass “al-Ganad” – Taiz province and surrounding areas such as Ibb, and some areas from al-Dhale and Lahj provinces.

Their plan mirrors agreements made in the national transition period after the fall of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, which envisaged the division of Yemen into six regions as a solution to growing calls for independence in the former South Yemen.

The Houthis cancelled the plan, agreed by the National Dialogue Conference, when they took over Sanaa and kicked out President Hadi, Saleh’s replacement.

The Houthis and Hadi government are currently locked in UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait, which special envoy Ahmed Ould-Sheikh on Wednesday said was “closer” to an agreement to end more than a year of full-blown war.

“We are in a stage where the parties have to make hard choices and compromises,” the diplomat said, adding that he was “very optimistic” that a deal could be reached.

However, a report released by the London-based Chatham House think tank warned on Wednesday that Yemen faces dissolving into a “chaos state” of small wars over local issues and grievances that would be unresolved by “elite-level” talks in Kuwait.

“In the event of an end to the ‘big war’, a replication of past patterns of behavior – focusing on the dynamics and ignoring localized issues – will most likely result in Yemen collapsing into a multitude of small wars,” the report said.

Taiz is one such localized issue.

Fadhl al-Rabei, a political analyst, said while independence for Taiz was not likely, the demand would nevertheless send a message to the world that Taiz was fighting alone.

Division was “the best solution” for war-torn Yemen, he added, noting Taiz was not the only area calling for independence.

The Tehama movement has grown in popularity in Hodeida province and its surrounding areas in recent years, with grievances similar to Taiz such as neglect by the government.

“The Southern Movement demands independence, the Tehama movement demands independence for Tehama, as does Taiz. These parts of Yemen can be divided into regions, and this will be the best solution,” he added.

However, the movement in Taiz is still only grassroots. Many of the province’s political parties support the Hadi government, meaning their hands are tied.

The leaders of the Popular Resistance, meanwhile, are publicly against the movement. Nael al-Adimi, a leader in Taiz city, called those involved “traitors” and a threat to the common defense of the province.

He stated that all Taiz residents must first expel the Houthis, before any other project can be discussed.

“We will not support such a ridiculous project,” he said.

“There are some traitors in Taiz trying to divide the Popular Resistance with their new projects, which are not in the interests of Taiz, and the Republic of Taiz is one of them.”

Source: Middle East Eye.

Link: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/republic-taiz-yemen-resistance-1769604821.

May 18, 2016

The Yemeni government delegation on Tuesday has walked out of talks in Kuwait saying rebels insist on power sharing in violation of UN resolutions.

A source in the government delegation told Anadolu news agency that the delegation will issue a formal statement later in the day adding that the delegation intends to stay in Kuwait.

Yemen’s Saba News Agency (state owned) reported Foreign Minister, Abdulmalek Al-Mikhlafi who heads the government delegation as saying that he had asked UN envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to oblige the rebels to respect the negotiations references as precondition to return.

Anadolu news agency reported sources close to the talks earlier as saying that the rebels had asked to transfer President Hadi powers to a transitional council which includes them before they withdraw from cities they control.

According to sources the rebels have also asked to respect the peace and partnership agreement signed in September, 21 2014.

President Hadi has described the agreement void after moving to Aden in February 2015, saying it was signed under force of arms.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Monday said the two sides were still discussing the best way to reach a peaceful solution in Yemen after nearly 4 weeks of fruitless talks.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160518-yemeni-government-delegation-pulls-out-of-kuwait-consultations/.

25 April 2016 Monday

Yemeni troops have recaptured a key port city from Al-Qaeda militants who held it for a year, in what a Saudi-led coalition hailed Monday as a major victory in which over 800 fighters were killed.

The assault on the southeastern city of Mukalla, home to some 200,000 people, was part of a wider counter-offensive against the Sunni extremists launched by pro-government forces last month after a year in which they had focused their firepower on Shiite Huthi rebels who control the capital.

It comes as government and rebel delegations hold peace talks in Kuwait and after US President Barack Obama during a visit to Saudi Arabia called for a negotiated settlement that would enable both sides to turn their attention on Al-Qaeda.

At the talks, which opened last Thursday, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that “significant differences… remain but nonetheless there is consensus on the need to make peace”.

The peace talks and Obama visit have contributed to a change in “strategic priorities”, with Al-Qaeda back at the top, according to the Soufan Group consultancy.

The rebels’ Yemen-based branch, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is regarded by Washington as their most dangerous and the group’s militants have come under repeated US air and drone strikes in and around Mukalla.

The rebels used the area as a base to plan attacks overseas, including a January 2015 assault on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people in Paris.

“We entered the city center and were met by no resistance from Al-Qaeda militants who withdrew west,” a military officer told AFP by telephone from Mukalla.

The officer, who requested anonymity, said residents had appealed to the rebels to spare the city the destruction of fighting and to withdraw.

Qaeda car bombing

Government troops were backed by special forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as coalition air strikes, commanders said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Loyalist forces also recaptured a swathe of the adjacent Arabian Sea coast, including the city of Shihr and its Mina al-Dhaba oil terminal as well as Mukalla’s Riyan airport.

“The operation resulted… in the deaths of more than 800 Al-Qaeda members and some of their leaders, while some others fled,” the coalition commanders said.

The death toll could not be independently confirmed and no indication was given of any civilian casualties.

Mukalla is one of a number of southern cities that Al-Qaeda had overrun since the Saudi-led coalition launched its military intervention in March last year when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into exile after the Iran-backed rebels seized much of the country.

The rebels overran two other provincial capitals further west — Huta, which government forces recaptured last week, and Zinjibar which they entered late on Saturday, only to beat a tactical retreat.

An Al-Qaeda car bomb killed seven soldiers and wounded 14 as they were entering Zinjibar on Sunday triggering the pullback, military sources said.

“The withdrawal was decided following information that Al-Qaeda was preparing other car bomb attacks against our troops,” an officer in the province told AFP.

The counter-offensive against the rebels has come as a fragile April 11 ceasefire between pro-government forces and the rebels firms up.

US drone war

Washington, which has provided reconnaissance and refueling support for the coalition air campaign, had put mounting pressure on coalition leaders to call a halt and seek a negotiated settlement.

Obama joined a Gulf summit last week and Pentagon chief Ashton Carter also held talks with Gulf counterparts.

Washington has been waging a drone war against AQAP since November 2002, when it killed the suspected mastermind of an October 2000 bombing of a US destroyer that killed 17 sailors in the southern port of Aden.

In April last year, a US air strike killed AQAP commander Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, who claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in a video, outside the presidential palace in Mukalla where the rebels had set up base.

Last month, an air strike on an AQAP training camp in Hajr, west of Mukalla, killed more than 70 rebels, provincial officials said.

During its year-long rule in Mukalla, AQAP imposed its strict interpretation of sharia law forbidding consumption of the mild narcotic qat, a mainstay of Yemeni social life, and demolishing the tombs of revered Sufi mystics.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/middle-east/171969/yemeni-forces-recapture-key-port-city.