ISIL declares ‘caliphate’

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Updated 30 June 2014
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ISIL declares ‘caliphate’

BEIRUT: An offshoot of Al-Qaeda which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic “Caliphate” and called on factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance, a statement posted on jihadist websites said on Sunday.
The move is an expansion of the group’s ambitions to wage a holy war and posed a direct challenge to the central leadership of Al-Qaeda, which has already disowned it.
The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, has renamed itself “Islamic State” and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghadi as “Caliph” — the head of the state, the statement said.
“He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere,” the group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani said in the statement, which was translated into several languages and an Arabic audio speech.
“Accordingly, the “Iraq and Sham” (Levant) in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration,” he said.
Charles Lister, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, saw considerable significance in the move.
“Whatever judgments are made in terms of its legitimacy, (the) announcement that it has restored the Caliphate is likely the most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11.
“The impact of this announcement will be global as Al-Qaeda affiliates and independent jihadist groups must now definitively choose to support and join the Islamic State or to oppose it.”
Fighters from the group overran the Iraqi city of Mosul last month and have advanced toward Baghdad. In Syria they have captured territory in the north and east, along the frontier with Iraq.
“It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to (him) and support him...The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khalifah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall in Beirut and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo)


UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

Updated 28 min 18 sec ago
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UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

  • Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000
  • The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa

DUBAI: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah will take a “calculated and gradual” approach to the battle, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday.

The comments came after witnesses said eight villagers had been killed and 15 others wounded when Houthi militia shelled a village in the center of the country called Haglan Maris.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was taking into consideration a “fragile humanitarian situation,” avoiding civilian casualties in addition to military calculations.

Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000. He declined to reveal the size of coalition forces but said they had “numerical superiority.”

He said that the Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time.

Gargash added that the Hodeidah port is a “major artery” for weapons smuggling from Iran to the Houthis.

“The liberation of Hodeidah is a major step in freeing Sanaa,” the UAE minister said, adding that “the roads leading to the port are filled with mines.”

France is said to be helping the Arab coalition in demining the roads.

“We have opened the road from Hodeidah to Sanaa to allow the militias to flee without resistance,” Gargash said.

The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa for emergency talks.

Martin Griffiths was expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee and halt heavy clashes against advancing government troops backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(With AFP, AP & Reuters)