Yemen president orders his forces to cease fire in Aden

Fighters from Yemen's southern separatist movement gather in a street of Aden on Sunday during clashes with government forces. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2018
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Yemen president orders his forces to cease fire in Aden

ADEN: Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Sunday ordered his forces to cease fire immediately in interim capital Aden after fierce clashes with southern separatists.
The call came in a communique issued by Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher to the commanders of government forces in the southern port city.
“Based on instructions from President Hadi, supreme commander of the Yemeni armed forces, and after talks with the Arab coalition... you must order all military units to cease fire immediately,” said the communique seen by AFP.
It ordered government forces “to return to base,” and said all positions taken on Sunday should be vacated by all sides unconditionally.
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 Iranian-backed Houthis to intervene, hours after fierce clashes erupted between military units loyal to the government of President Abed Rabbo 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 a 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 government as Iranian-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 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 Gov. 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 Iranian-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.


Palestinian leader’s health apparently improving in hospital

Updated 54 min 39 sec ago
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Palestinian leader’s health apparently improving in hospital

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be making a swift recovery in hospital from his latest health troubles.
His office released a photo and a brief video clip late on Monday showing him walking in the hospital hallway, dressed in a blue bathrobe and flanked by aides. Another photo showed him sitting and reading a newspaper in Ramallah's Istishari Hospital. Independent media outlets were banned from entering the hospital.
Abbas was hospitalized on Sunday with a fever, just days after undergoing ear surgery. Palestinian officials said he had pneumonia and was on a respirator, receiving antibiotics intravenously.
Top aide Saeb Erekat said Abbas was in "very good health" after spending several hours visiting the Palestinian leader and said he should be released within days. Erekat said Abbas was taking antibiotics and responding well to his treatment.
It was the latest health scare for the 83-year-old, who has had health problems in the past but never designated a deputy or successor. His sudden hospitalization has revived anxiety over a potentially chaotic or even bloody succession battle that could further weaken the Palestinian cause.
Abbas, who is a heavy smoker and overweight, has a long history of health issues, ranging from heart trouble to a bout with prostate cancer a decade ago. Two years ago, he underwent an emergency heart procedure after suffering exhaustion and chest pains.
More recently, a cardiologist moved into the presidential compound in Ramallah to monitor the longtime leader after a mysterious hospital visit in the United States, following Abbas' address to the United Nations Security Council, in which he appeared weak.