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.


Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

Updated 12 November 2018
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Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

  • The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing
  • Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Monday approved the formation of an independent commission to help determine the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the country’s civil war, which ended nearly three decades ago.
The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing, collect DNA samples and exhume mass graves from the 1975-1990 conflict.
Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament.
“This is the first step toward giving closure to families of the missing hopefully,” said Rona Halabi, spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross. “This represents a milestone for the families who have waited for years to have answers.”
The Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons says more than 17,000 people are estimated to have gone missing during the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said lawmakers approved the law after voting on each of its 38 articles.
LBC TV said lawmakers initially protested, saying calls for accountability may affect current officials. The broadcaster said they were reassured the 1991 amnesty for abuses committed by militias during the war remains in place.
Many of Lebanon’s political parties are led by former warlords implicated in some of the civil war’s worst fighting.
“For the first time after the war, Lebanon enters a genuine reconciliation phase, to heal the wounds and give families the right to know,” Gebran Bassil, the country’s foreign minister tweeted.
The ICRC began compiling DNA samples from relatives of the disappeared in 2016 and has interviewed more than 2,000 families to help a future national commission.
DNA samples have been stored with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the ICRC. The law would allow Lebanese security forces to take part in the sample collection.