Saleh ‘subject to trial’ over Yemen coup: Arab coalition

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri. (SPA)
Updated 11 February 2017
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Saleh ‘subject to trial’ over Yemen coup: Arab coalition

RIYADH: Ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh will be subject to trial over the “criminal” coup in the country, an Arab coalition spokesman has said.
Saleh is a Yemeni citizen and thus “subject to imposition of international penalties for carrying out criminal acts in Yemen,” said Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, who is also an adviser to the Saudi minister of defense.
Al-Assiri was speaking in an interview with Russia’s Sputnik and RIA Novosti news agencies. He said the legitimate government in Yemen is in charge of its citizens, and as such, “Saleh will be subject to trial based on Yemeni law.”
Al-Assiri said Saleh “belongs to a group of criminals that carried out a coup d’état” in the state, and must cooperate with the legitimate government if he wishes to avoid harsher penalties.
He said the Arab coalition considers “all groups that supported the coup as one body that led Yemen to the destruction and hardship it is currently facing.”
Asked whether Riyadh was targeted by ballistic missiles from Sanaa, as had been claimed by some, Al-Assiri said he “would not comment on such lies, as all incidents taking place in the Kingdom or areas or operations are announced and addressed via official statements by the coalition.”
He added: “No official statement was released about this activity by Houthi militias, which means it is a lie, and we have no time for verbal controversies and debates on media channels.
“We believe in truth, and we say to all those claiming that the Kingdom, or some of its territories, have been the target of such activity to issue a statement or a report. We promised transparency with Saudi Arabia, (the) Arab and international community, and should any such kind of activity occur, we would announce it, as we have nothing to hide.
“To date, Houthi militias targeted the Kingdom with 38 ballistic missiles; all these attacks were addressed and noted in official statements by the leadership of the coalition.
Most of these missiles launches failed and fell inside Yemeni territory, threatening the lives of civilians.”
The spokesman added: “Everyone understands that (Houthi and Saleh militia) groups are losing. Very soon, security, stability and the legitimate government will be restored. Currently, the government controls 85 percent of the country… There is no place in Yemen for rebellious groups.
“The Arab coalition supports the legitimate government, including in their policies. The government spent three months on peaceful talks in Kuwait. All possible options and concessions were discussed. But the opposite party decided to carry out their own policy, and the talks failed. Houthis and the government led by Saleh fuel the conflict, by establishing a parallel government.
“They abducted and killed a lot of people. In fact, those supporting them make up only one percent of the Yemeni population. They want to impose their will on 26 million Yemenis.”


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 19 min 27 sec ago
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Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

  • Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place
  • The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.