Yemen’s Shiite insurgents, army rebels back 5-day cease-fire

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Updated 11 May 2015
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Yemen’s Shiite insurgents, army rebels back 5-day cease-fire

SANAA, Yemen: Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies in the country’s splintered armed forces said Sunday they would accept a five-day humanitarian cease-fire to allow aid to reach civilians after more than a month of daily Saudi-led airstrikes.
The cease-fire, scheduled to begin Tuesday, would help ease the suffering of civilians in the Arab world’s poorest country who increasingly lack food, fuel and medicine since the bombing campaign began March 26.
However, all sides in a conflict that’s seen the exile of Saudi- and Western-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have warned they’ll retaliate if the cease-fire is broken.
On Sunday, state news agency SABA, which is under the control of the rebels known as Houthis, quoted Col. Sharaf Ghalib Luqman as saying rebels in the armed forces agreed with the cease-fire, warning against any violation of the truce. The Houthis earlier issued their own statement saying they will cooperate with the cease-fire, .
Saturday, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ali Asiri, the Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman, also warned that the cease-fire will be canceled if the rebels violated it.
The Houthis say their campaign is aimed at defeating Al-Qaeda militants based in Yemen and accuse Hadi’s forces of supporting the group.
“Any military violation of the cease-fire from Al-Qaeda and those who stand with it ... will be responded to,” Luqman said in a statement published by Saba news agency.
Meanwhile, Saudi-led strikes have continued in Yemen, with a residence of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital, Sanaa, reportedly hit. Social media accounts later posted pictures of what appeared to be Saleh speaking in front of his ruined home after the strike.
Saleh and his forces back the Houthis, who are also backed by Iran.

Trapped
The Houthis’ acceptance of a truce came as Saudi ground forces conducted air strikes, fired artillery and launched at least two dozen rockets on Saada province, a Houthi stronghold along its southern border.
Riyadh has called on civilians to evacuate the province, in a move that has drawn criticism from the United Nations.
“The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw said in a statement.
“Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage. The targeting of an entire governorate will put countless civilians at risk.”
International concern about the humanitarian situation has grown as the strikes have killed more than 1,300 people, sent locals fleeing from their homes and destroyed infrastructure, leading to shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
Iranian news agency Tasnim said an aid ship would set sail for the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodaida on Sunday, in a move that will likely be blocked by the Saudi-led coalition.
Iran denies arming the Houthis, but the Sunni Muslim monarchies leading the campaign believe Tehran is using the Shiite Houthis to gain a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula and have blocked previous aid flights.
Residents in the capital Sanaa reported that Arab planes bombed for a second day in a row the vast compound which is home to ex-president Saleh, a key player in Yemen’s political crisis whose loyalists in the army fight on the Houthis’ side.
In a sign that the wily political operator was unscathed, Saleh blasted the Saudi-led campaign on his official Twitter account on Sunday.
“Look for a solution to exit from your quagmire of killing and destroying the Yemeni people. Stop drinking Yemeni blood and let us solve our differences,” he wrote.
Saleh and the Houthis have asked for a UN-backed political dialogue, but their opponents say they have yet to make any concessions and have called for them to end their military push on Aden and Yemen’s south.


Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

Updated 9 min 9 sec ago
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Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

  • The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year
  • Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs
BEIRUT: Slowing capital inflows to Lebanon and weaker deposit growth increase the risk of a government response that will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default, Moody’s Investors Service said.
This was despite fiscal consolidation measures included in the draft 2019 budget that is being debated in parliament, Moody’s said in a June 25 credit analysis.
Asked about the report, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Thursday “matters are under control.”
The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year, with Lebanese leaders warning the country faces financial crisis without reform.
Lebanon’s public debt is 150 percent of GDP, among the largest in the world. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt-servicing costs and subsidies for power.
The Moody’s report said: “Despite the inclusion of fiscal consolidation measures in the draft 2019 budget, slowing capital inflows and weaker deposit growth increase the risk that the government’s response will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default under our definition.”
Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs, chiefly the state budget deficit and the current account deficit of an economy that imports heavily and exports little by comparison.