Yemen radical party members held, ratcheting up tensions

Pro-government fighters are seen outside a military camp near airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden in this file photo. Security forces have arrested 10 members of an Islamist partner in the internationally-recognized government, increasing tensions, the Islah party said on Wednesday. (AFP file photo)
Updated 12 October 2017
0

Yemen radical party members held, ratcheting up tensions

ADEN: Security forces in the southern Yemeni city of Aden arrested 10 members of a radical partner in the internationally recognized government, the Islah party said on Wednesday.
Aden is dominated by local forces backed by the UAE, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power but is hostile toward hard-liners.
The arrests could raise tension within the coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh who seized much of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.
Islah said security forces raided the home of its No. 2 man in Aden, Mohammed Abdel-Malek, and arrested him, along with a member of the party’s local Shoura Council as well as a local militia commander.
Security forces also closed down the party’s office in Al-Qaloua district of Aden, Islah said in a statement.
A security source in Aden confirmed four people were arrested and said the move was related to the assassination of a Salafi imam in Aden on Tuesday by a bomb planted in his car.
While both in the radical camp, Salafis and Islah are at odds as some of the former back a secession of south Yemen while the latter wants the Arabian Peninsula state to remain intact.
It was unclear if the arrested Islah members had been formally charged.
“(Islah) directs a call to public opinion, the government and the coalition demanding they shoulder their responsibility to swiftly release brother Abdel-Malek and his colleagues and to stop these arbitrary measures,” Islah’s statement said.
With thousands of fighters deployed on battlefronts against the Houthis, Islah has been an important ally of Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition trying to reinstate his government.
But Islah, seen as linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, has come under pressure since a rift erupted between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet — comprising the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — in June over allegations Qatar backs radical militants. Qatar denies this.
Since the coalition intervened in Yemen, Islah has tried to distance itself from the Brotherhood in an effort to ease Gulf rulers’ anxiety about its radical ideology.
The Brotherhood denies accusations from conservative Arab governments of involvement in terrorism, saying it seeks change only by peaceful means.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
0

Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.