No extension of Yemen cease-fire, says Al-Asiri

Pro-government fighters gather near a tank in the southwestern city of Taiz, Yemen, on Monday at the close of the two-day cease-fire declared by the Arab Coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels. (REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub)
Updated 22 November 2016
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No extension of Yemen cease-fire, says Al-Asiri

RIYADH: The 48-hour cease-fire in Yemen, which ended on Monday, will not be extended because of repeated violations by the Houthi militias and their supporters, said the spokesman of the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting terrorism.
“The conditions and requirements to extend the truce were not met, and cease-fire rules were repeatedly violated by the Houthi militias and their allies, therefore it was called off,” Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Asiri told Arab News on Monday.
The truce was announced on Saturday with the stipulation that it will be renewed if the Houthis and their supporters abide by the rules, including allowing the entry of humanitarian aid to the besieged areas.
“They did not respect the truce, they only violated its conditions,” Al-Asiri said.
He accused the rebels of violating the cease-fire about 500 times in Yemen and about 100 times across the border, in the southern provinces of Najran and Jazan.
The media center of the Yemeni National Army also reported hundreds of violations of the cease-fire by rebel militias in the provinces of Marib, Al-Baida’a and Taiz.
A Yemeni military source indicated that the air defense forces of the Arab Coalition intercepted three ballistic missiles at dawn on Sunday.
The missiles were launched by the Houthis in Marib; they were destroyed in the province’s airspace.


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.