Many dead in Yemen’s Aden as PM accuses separatists of coup

Yemen's Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr attends a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 18, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 29 January 2018
0

Many dead in Yemen’s Aden as PM accuses separatists of coup

ADEN, Yemen: Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher on Sunday accused southern separatists of attempting a coup in the interim capital of Aden after they took over the government headquarters.
The premier called on the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis to intervene, hours after fierce clashes erupted between military units loyal to the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and separatist security forces.
At least 15 people were killed in fierce fighting on Sunday in Yemen’s interim capital of Aden, hospital sources said, as separatists took over the government headquarters.
Three civilians were among those killed, medical sources in four hospitals in Aden said.
“A coup is ongoing here in Aden against legitimacy and the country’s unity,” Dagher said in the statement.
Security sources told AFP that pro-separatist had taken over the government headquarters in Aden after clashes.
The clashes erupted after separatist protesters were prevented from entering Aden where supporters of secessionists were gathering for a rally to demand the ouster of Dagher’s government.
Aden serves as a temporary base for Hadi’s Saudi-backed government as Iran-backed rebels took over the capital Sanaa more than three years ago.
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to back Hadi’s government in its war against the Houthis.
Military and security units from both sides were deployed in the city amid high tension.
Universities, schools and the only international airport in the city had all been closed, according to witnesses.
Dagher said that events in Aden were headed toward “total military confrontation” and urged members of the coalition, in particular the UAE, to take action.
He also warned that separating south Yemen from the rest of the country would benefit Iran and the Houthis.
“Iran is trying to consolidate its presence in Yemen through the Houthis and by splitting Yemen, we are giving them one-third of the land and three-quarters of the population,” Dagher said.
Sunday’s rally was called by the South Transition Council, an autonomous body aimed at overseeing self-governance among southern provinces.
The 26-member council, which is not recognized by Hadi’s government, includes the governors of five southern provinces and two cabinet ministers.
Former Aden governor Aidarous Al-Zoubeidi formed the council in May after Hadi fired him the previous month.
Ahead of the planned protest, the coalition called for calm and restraint from “all Yemeni political and social” parties.
It urged all sides to “adhere to the language of calm dialogue,” to liberate all of Yemen from the control of the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists, according to a statement cited late Saturday by Saudi state news agency SPA. The Yemeni government has welcomed the statement.
Yemen’s government spokesman Rajih Badi said in a statement that the position of the coalition in its support for the legitimate government was what it had stressed from the outset – which was the importance of maintaining the focus of the battle in confronting the Iranian-backed efforts to divide the country from within.
He said there was a need to keep faith in the goals and objectives of the legitimate government, the Arab coalition and UN in achieving and maintaining stability in the country.
The spokesman explained that the adoption of any action against the legitimate government only led to  serve the enemies of Yemen, Gulf Arab countries, and the Arab region.


Erdogan and Putin vow closer cooperation on Syria at Moscow talks

Updated 23 January 2019
0

Erdogan and Putin vow closer cooperation on Syria at Moscow talks

  • The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict
  • Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday vowed to coordinate their actions more closely in Syria.
“Cooperation between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone for Syrian peace and stability,” Erdogan said in translated comments at a joint press conference after their talks, which lasted around three hours.
“With our Russian friends we intend to strengthen our coordination even more.”
“We agreed how we’ll coordinate our work in the near future,” Putin said, calling the talks which included the countries’ defense ministers “effective.”
At the start of their meeting in the Kremlin, Putin addressed Erdogan as “dear friend,” saying that their countries “work on issues of regional security and actively cooperate on Syria.”
Erdogan used the same term for Putin and said “our solidarity makes a weighty contribution to the security of the region.”
The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict: Russia provides critical support to the Syrian government, while Turkey has backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Despite this, they have worked closely to find a political solution to the seven-year conflict.
Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria following US President Donald Trump’s shock announcement last month about pulling 2,000 American troops out of Syria.
Putin said that if carried out, the withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria “will be a positive step, it will help stabilize the situation in this restive area.”
Turkey has also welcomed Washington’s planned withdrawal, but the future of US-backed Kurdish militia forces labelled terrorists by Ankara has upset ties between the NATO allies.
Erdogan had said on Monday he would discuss with Putin the creation of a Turkish-controlled “security zone” in northern Syria, suggested by Trump.
The US-allied Kurds, who control much of the north, have rejected the idea, fearing a Turkish offensive against territory under their control.
Putin said Wednesday that Russia supports “establishing dialogue between Damascus officials and representatives of the Kurds.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week said that Damascus must take control of the north.
The northwestern province of Idlib earlier this month fell under the full control of a jihadist group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The Russian foreign ministry said earlier Wednesday that the situation in the province remained of “serious concern.”
Putin said that the leaders discussed the situation in Idlib “in great detail today.”
“We have a shared conviction that we must continue jointly fighting terrorists wherever they are, including in the Idlib zone,” the Russian leader said.
Erdogan said that the countries will wage a “lengthy fight” in Syria.
Nearly eight years into Syria’s deadly conflict, the planned US pullout has led to another key step in Assad’s Russian-backed drive to reassert control.
Kurdish forces who were left exposed by Trump’s pledge to withdraw have asked the Syrian regime for help to face a threatened Turkish offensive.
The Kremlin hailed the entry by Syrian forces into the key northern city of Manbij for the first time in six years after Kurds opened the gates.
Moscow plans to organize a three-way summit with Turkey and Iran early this year as part of the Astana peace process, launched by the three countries in 2017.
Putin said Wednesday the next summit would be held “in the near future” in Russia, saying the leaders still needed to agree the time and location with Iran.
The last meeting between Putin, Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani took place in Iran in September last year with the fate of rebel-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.
Ties between Russia and Turkey plunged to their lowest level in years in November 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane over Syria.
But after a reconciliation deal in 2016, relations have recovered at a remarkable speed with Putin and Erdogan cooperating closely over Syria, Turkey buying Russian-made air defense systems and Russia building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.