Yemeni media organization: 2,250 violations against journalists since Houthi coup

Followers of the Shi'ite Houthi movement perform the traditional Baraa dance in Sanaa, Yemen, on September 9, 2017. (Reuters file photo)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Yemeni media organization: 2,250 violations against journalists since Houthi coup

JEDDAH: A report issued on Friday by the National Organization of Yemeni Media “Sada” revealed that 2,250 cases of violation against journalists and media workers, and their institutions, were recorded since the Houthi militia coup against the legitimate government in Yemen until the end of December 2017.

In its report titled “Price of Abandonment,” the organization — according to the official Saba news agency — held the Iranian-backed Houthi militia accountable for 85 percent of documented violations against journalists in 21 Yemeni governorates.

It said the capital Sanaa, under militias control, topped the list of documented violations with 88 percent.

According to the report, 20 types of violations committed by the Houthi militia against media workers were recorded.

These violations included “abduction, enforced disappearance, murder, physical assault, targeting of houses, occupation of media institutions, and security prosecution.”

Over the past three years, the Houthi militia has been reported to have killed 22 journalists through sniping, using them as human shields, and 141 journalists have been kidnapped, the report said.

The report also showed that “Houthi-controlled Sanaa ranked first in documented violations with 1,972 cases, while Taiz governorate came second with 81 cases.”

In the period between 2015 and the end of 2017, according to the report, in Marib governorate, 219 journalists and media staff accounted for 40 percent of 544 journalists displaced by Houthi militia.

The report called on the legitimate government to pressure the United Nations and international organizations to do more to release and stop the torture of the journalists abducted by the Houthi militia.


Turkey, Russia discussing Idlib airspace control: Sources

Updated 23 September 2018
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Turkey, Russia discussing Idlib airspace control: Sources

  • Turkey has set up observation posts in Idlib in a bid to prevent clashes between rebels and government forces
  • After a meeting on Sept. 17 between Putin and Erdogan, agreed to create a de-militarized zone in Idlib by Oct. 15

ANKARA: The partial transfer of control of the airspace over the de-escalation zone in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib from Moscow to Ankara is being discussed by the two sides, Russian sources said. 

The aim is to enable Turkey to conduct an aerial campaign against Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which Ankara recently designated a terrorist organization. 

A former Al-Qaeda affiliate, HTS is the strongest armed group in Idlib, the last stronghold of Syrian anti-government rebels. 

In February, HTS claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian warplane in Idlib using a surface-to-air missile.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are monitoring the de-escalation zone in the province as part of a trilateral agreement. 

Turkey has set up observation posts in Idlib in a bid to prevent clashes between rebels and government forces.

“Discussions are ongoing about the details of this transfer (of airspace control). I guess it will be limited to the buffer zone in Idlib for now,” Yury Barmin, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, told Arab News.

“If Russia is taking steps to allow Turkey to use Idlib’s airspace, it will give Turkey more room for maneuver in the region.”

But airstrikes by Ankara against HTS might create another refugee influx into Turkey, which already hosts more than 3 million Syrian refugees, Barmin said. 

Idlib is home to more than 1 million displaced Syrians, and its population exceeds 3 million. Turkey is concerned that the creation of a humanitarian crisis near its border would further swell its own refugee population. 

After a meeting on Sept. 17 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two countries agreed to create a de-militarized zone in Idlib by Oct. 15.

The deal requires that all radical groups, including HTS, withdraw from the area and that all heavy weapons be removed.

Russian and Turkish troops will conduct coordinated patrols to ensure that all armed groups respect the deal.

Emre Ersen, a Syria analyst at Marmara University in Istanbul, said a transfer of airspace control would mean that Ankara and Moscow are determined to implement their latest agreement regarding Idlib. 

“Until now, Idlib’s airspace has been fully controlled by Russia, which weakened Turkey’s hand in trying to convince rebel groups in the region to abandon their arms,” he told Arab News.

Transferring airspace control “would give Ankara additional diplomatic leverage in its dealings with HTS,” he said. 

“If Ankara fails to persuade HTS to comply with the Putin-Erdogan deal regarding Idlib, it’s almost certain that Russia and Syrian government forces will start a military operation in the region.”

So Turkey is sending a message to HTS that if carrots do not work, it has some sticks at its disposal, Ersen said.