Yemen’s Al-Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad: KSA

Smoke and fire billow during a controlled explosion by Yemeni experts to destroy explosives and mines laid by Houthi rebels in the southern city of Aden. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2017
0

Yemen’s Al-Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad: KSA

PARIS: Al Qaeda’s Yemeni arm is losing its ability to export militancy overseas after sustained military pressure on its operations, and Daesh and Shiite militants are instead Riyadh’s main internal concern, Saudi Arabian officials said on Wednesday.
The US and Britain on Tuesday announced new restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.
The Saudi Interior Ministry’s chief security spokesman Mansour Al-Turki told reporters in Paris that he had no specific information on what prompted the new curbs — which also affect Saudi Arabian Airlines — but he suggested there may be a link to Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
“The US has said they raided Al-Qaeda people in Yemen and they were able to gather some information, but I don’t know whether they found something linked to this,” he said.
Asked whether they believed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had the capacity to project operations overseas with innovative bomb designs, including embedding them inside computers, however, the officials said the group had been severely constrained by fighting on multiple fronts.
“They don’t have the power to export their activities,” said Abdullah Al-Shehri, a senior counter-terrorism official from the Interior Ministry.
“It is fighting Islamic State (Daesh), which is trying to take its place. It is not getting new fighters and after the (Saudi-led) Desert Storm operation it is also fighting the legitimate government and the Houthi (rebels),” he said.
AQAP has in the past plotted to down US airliners and claimed responsibility for the 2015 attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. It also has boasted of having one of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri. The US estimates it has 2,000 to 3,000 fighters.
Al-Turki said Riyadh considered the threat of an attack from Daesh on its soil to be greater given that some 3,500 Saudis had traveled to join the group in Syria and Iraq. Of those, 1,500 remain in the conflict zone with the rest killed.
“(Al-) Qaeda actually has not been involved in any real kind of terrorism-related incident in Saudi Arabia for three years,” he said. “Most of the incidents came from Daesh or militant groups related to Shiites in the eastern province.”
Al-Turki is leading a delegation of Interior Ministry and counter-terrorism officials in Paris to discuss wider cooperation between the two allies.
The talks have also focused on ways to prevent attacks including with a new digital system implemented in the Kingdom to identify potential lone wolf militants radicalized on social media.


Iraq’s new PM will name cabinet in two days

Updated 21 October 2018
0

Iraq’s new PM will name cabinet in two days

  • Abdul Mahdi’s proposed cabinet will consist of 22 ministers and two vice-presidents. He will not have a deputy prime minister
  • All the proposed ministers are independents nominated by the political blocs in the ruling coalition

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is putting the finishing touches to his first cabinet and will submit the names to parliament for approval in the next two days.

All the proposed ministers are independents nominated by the political blocs in the ruling coalition, and none is a current or former member of parliament, leading party negotiators told Arab News on Sunday.

The Shiite coalition was formed last month after lengthy negotiations following parliamentary elections in May. It comprises the Reform alliance sponsored by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, and the Iranian backed Al-Binna’a led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the Badr Organization, the most powerful Shiite armed faction.

Abdul Mahdi’s proposed cabinet will consist of 22 ministers and two vice-presidents. He will not have a deputy prime minister. Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and minorities must all be represented, under Iraq’s constitution. In addition, an unwritten rule requires that ministerial posts and high government positions be filled according to the distribution of parliamentary seats.

Negotiators told Arab News that Abdul Mahdi’s ministers for oil, transport, health, electricity, higher education and water will come from the Reform alliance; ministers for the interior, foreign affairs, communication, housing and construction, and labor and industry will be from Al-Binna’a; Sunnis will be ministers for defense, planning, trade, education, agriculture and youth; and the ministers of finance, justice and immigration will be Kurds. 

“The final names have not been revealed yet,” a Reform negotiator told Arab News. “We presented four names for each post and we are waiting for Abdul Mahdi to present his final list on Monday.”

The coalition will support Abdul Mahdi for one year. “The veto imposed by Sadr and Amiri on any current or former parliamentarians to be a minister has embarrassed everyone and pushed them to change their plans,” an Al-Binna’a negotiator said.

“A year is enough to see if Abdul Mahdi has formed a harmonious team and whether his team will succeed, so it’s fair enough for all parties.”