Yemeni officials say ex-president may be under house arrest

Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh gestures to supporters as he arrives to a rally held to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of his General People's Congress party in Sanaa, Yemen, on August 24, 2017. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 30 August 2017
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Yemeni officials say ex-president may be under house arrest

SANAA: Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has not left his Sanaa home for nearly a week, fueling speculation that his rebel allies have effectively placed him under house arrest, officials said Tuesday.
They spoke four days after differences between the two sides boiled over into clashes in the capital, which left a Saleh aide, Col. Khaled Al-Rodai, and three rebels dead. The clashes in central Sanaa were followed by the large-scale deployment of forces by the two sides, keeping tensions high.
Three days of talks on defusing the crisis have failed, according to the security and military officials, who are affiliated with both sides of the rebel alliance. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
The Iran-backed rebels, known as Houthis, are allied with Saleh’s forces in a war against Yemen’s internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led coalition.
The civil war has killed over 10,000 civilians, displaced 3 million people, and pushed the country to the brink of famine. An outbreak of cholera has killed 2,000 people. The rift within the rebel alliance could further complicate stalled peace efforts.
Gunmen suspected of links to the Houthis on Tuesday beat up Saleh’s lawyer and close aide, Mohammed Al-Masswary, a vocal critic of the rebels who has frequently accused them of not honoring their part in the alliance.
A statement by Saleh’s National Congress party condemned the “criminal” attack.
Saleh and the Houthis have always been unlikely allies.
As president, Saleh had repeatedly gone to war with the Houthis in their northern heartland, but after he stepped down in the wake of Arab Spring protests in 2011 he threw his support behind them. Security forces loyal to Saleh played a key role in helping the Houthis to sweep down from the north and capture Sanaa in 2014. They later went on to seize much of the country.
The officials said Saleh has not left his home since a tension-fraught celebration by his party in the capital on Thursday. They said he communicated to the Houthis his intention to attend Al-Rodai’s funeral on Thursday, but the officials said the Houthis may not allow him to leave.
The officials said differences between the two sides are primarily rooted in the Houthis’ belief that Saleh, who ruled Yemen for more than 30 years, was plotting against the Houthis with key members of the Saudi-led coalition.
Last week, rebel leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi made thinly-veiled charges against Saleh and his loyalists, saying his rebels have been “stabbed in the back while fighting the enemy in good faith.” Without mentioning Saleh or forces loyal to him by name, he suggested that they were not fighting pro-government forces in earnest.
Saleh dismissed the charges and complained of what he called the domination of decision-making by the Houthis’ Revolutionary Committees instead of the National Salvation government the two sides have jointly set up.


War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

Updated 22 July 2018
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War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

  • Any further escalation will deepen humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip: UN chief
  • Before the truce, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters

GAZA CITY: After seven chaotic and violent hours, quiet returned to the Gaza Strip Friday night. Yet on Saturday, civilians in the Palestinian enclave and Israel remained fearful of the potential for a new war.
The fatal shooting by a Palestinian sniper of an Israeli soldier during protests along the border on Friday sparked a widespread wave of Israeli bombing, with three fighters from Hamas killed and dozens of targets struck.
After intensive indirect mediation by the UN and Egypt, a truce came into force at midnight, yet both populations remained on high alert of another all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“War is coming. I know that the (Israeli) occupation is carrying out raids to pave the way with their home base,” Somaya Rabaya, 21, from Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, said.
While the cease-fire deal included an end to rockets and mortars, it didn’t include a commitment by Hamas to stop what Israeli media have dubbed “terror kites,” a senior Hamas source said.
In a brief statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the escalation and called on both sides to step back from the prospect of another devastating conflict. “Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods,” he said.
On Saturday morning in Gaza, 17-year-old Wissam was with a number of other youths fitting kites with small bottles full of diesel, while sheltering behind a sandbank for fear of Israeli strikes. “This morning, they bombed a Hamas observation post near here. I was afraid they would hit us with a missile,” he said.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying the incendiary devices into Israel.
On Friday, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters.
“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’ training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”