Yemen strongly condemns Houthi attack near Makkah

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mekhlafi. (Reuters file photo)
Updated 30 October 2016
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Yemen strongly condemns Houthi attack near Makkah

JEDDAH: Yemeni government on Friday said Houthis failed attempt to attack Makkah undermines regional stability and proves they are a menace to world stability.
“We seek peace and they seek war; we look for the stability of Yemen and the region, and they look for destruction and sedition, and reaffirm they are a menace to the world peace,” Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mekhlafi said on Friday, adding that the deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthi militias are seeking a regional war to implement their plans offensive to Arabs and Muslims, and show that those "criminal gangs" have no respect for the sanctity of Islam.
"This criminal act is additional proof that the Houthis are the tool Iran is using to destroy Yemen and its neighboring countries," he said.
Seperately, the Yemeni government on Friday denounced and condemned in the strongest and harshest words the blatant ballistic missile attack on Makkah by Houthi and forces of ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh, describing the assault as a clear violation of all international norms and values, and human ethics and morals.
“This irresponsible act reveals the true face of the Houthis and proves their sectarian nature driven by Iran, through its puppets in the region, which has been campaigning for a sectarian incitement recently against Saudi Arabia,” a Yemeni government official said in a statement sent to Arab News yesterday, adding that the attack and the recklessness of Houthi militias and Saleh forces reflect their association with the destructive Persian scheme against Arabs and all Muslims as well as sacred Muslim shrines.
 He pointed out that the Yemeni people and government reject and condemn this flagrant and criminal assault by the Houthis against the feelings of millions of Muslims, adding that Yemen fully supports and stands in solidarity with Saudi Arabia and its wise leadership in confronting anyone trying to compromise its security and stability, or dare to target the religious shrines.
The official called on all Arab and Muslims states to support Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government, the legitimate government that is being internationally recognized, and the Arab coalition in their efforts to restore the hijacked legitimacy from the putschists and those supporting them, in aborting their dangerous plans deemed destructive for the present and the future of the Arab and Islamic nation.
“We urge the UN, the Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to immediately mobilize efforts and take strict measures to put an end to Iran’s blatant interventions through their tools to sabotage the region, and not just issue statements of condemnation or denunciation,” he said.
 The official pointed out that the Houthi militias confirm through this behavior, in addition to their previous attempts to target ships in the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb undermining the freedom of international maritime movement, and their daily crimes against Yemenis, that it is still determined to proceed with its subversive and destructive disregard of all the international community’s binding decisions aimed at putting an end to the suffering of the Yemenis and ending the war sparked by the rebel group.
 He said the restoration of the legitimate state by ending the coup, and the application of the terms of reference agreed upon locally and internationally for a political solution, based on the GCC initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue and UNSC Resolution 2216, is the only way to address the perils of the Houthis at the local, regional and international levels.


Egypt votes on extending El-Sisi’s rule, country awaits result

Updated 20 April 2019
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Egypt votes on extending El-Sisi’s rule, country awaits result

  • El-Sisi cast his ballot at a polling station in the eastern suburb of Heliopolis in the Egyptian capital
  • Supporters argue that El-Sisi has stabilized Egypt and needs more time to complete crucial economic reforms.

CAIRO: Egyptians were voting on Saturday in a referendum that aims to cement the rule of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the former coup leader who presents himself as a rock of stability in a turbulent region.

Voters were being asked to back amendments to the constitution to allow El-Sisi, 64, to run for another six-year term while boosting his control over the judiciary and giving the military even greater influence in political life.

At a polling station in Manyal, a Cairo suburb overlooking the Nile, Mohamed Abdel Salam, 45, told AFP he was voting enthusiastically in support of the changes.

"I don't care about the presidential terms," he said.

"Sisi could stay forever as long as he's doing his job... and he has already done a lot"

The three-day referendum bucks the trend of North Africa's renewed uprisings, in which mass pro-democracy protests this month swept away veteran presidents in Algeria and Sudan.

Sisi himself was among the first to vote when polls opened, casting his ballot in the upmarket Cairo suburb of Heliopolis.

In Shubra, a working-class neighbourhood of the capital, dozens of voters, mostly women carrying their children, queued outside a polling station in the local high school.

In Cairo, troops and police were deployed in numbers although the interior ministry declined to give any nationwide figures.

Egypt is still battling a hardened Islamic insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula that has seen attacks in Cairo and other cities.

Sisi has argued that he needs longer to complete the job of restoring security and stability after the turmoil that followed the overthrow of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring of 2011.

Out on the streets, Sisi's supporters waved flags bearing their campaign motto: "Do the Right" thing, as they pressed passers-by to turn out and vote 'Yes'.

The Egyptian leader won his first term as president in 2014, a year after he led the army in overthrowing elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his single turbulent year in power.

Standing virtually unopposed after the disqualification or withdrawal of all realistic challengers, he was re-elected in March 2018 with more than 97 percent.

Both elections drew heavy criticism from human rights groups as they were accompanied by swingeing crackdowns on dissent -- both Islamist and secular.

Human Rights Watch also took issue with the referendum on extending Sisi's rule, saying the "constitutional amendments" would "entrench repression".

In a statement Saturday, the New York-based watchdog criticised the "grossly unfree, rights-abusive environment" of the vote.

For the past few weeks, Egypt's streets have been awash with banners and billboards urging citizens to vote for Sisi, while popular folk singers have exhorted voters to go to the polls.

Pro-Sisi campaign volunteers handed out boxed meals at four different polling stations in Cairo to voters after they had cast their ballots, AFP reporters said.

A parliamentarian greeted voters and volunteers gave out vouchers for the meals in the Shubra district.

In Manyal, a DJ blared loud patriotic songs extolling the virtues of Egypt under Sisi's leadership, including a new song by iconic Lebanese diva Nancy Ajram dedicated to Egypt and called "Ragel ibn Ragel" (What a fine man).

But not everyone is upbeat about the changes.

Sporting casual attire, a voter in his mid-30s told AFP in Cairo: "We are all staff in the same company and we were instructed by management to go vote.

"I want to say 'No'... on extending the presidential terms and the amendments related to the judiciary," he said declining to give his name for fear of repercussions.

He pointed to his bosses nearby who were making sure employees were voting.

"Even if I say 'No', they (the authorities) are still going to do what they want in the end," he added despondently.

Earlier in the week, parliament overwhelmingly endorsed the consitutional changes, which also include the creation of a second parliamentary chamber and a quota ensuring at least 25 percent of lawmakers are women.

Think tank the Soufan Center said the main effect of the referendum would be to "solidify Sisi's grip on the Egyptian political regime" in a country that "has become even more autocratic than it was under Mubarak".