Arab coalition calls for restraint as tank battle rocks Aden

The Arab coalition has called for talks as fighting escalated in Aden on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 29 January 2018
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Arab coalition calls for restraint as tank battle rocks Aden

RIYADH/ADEN: President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on Monday that a “coup” was underway in Aden, where separatists were battling his forces for a second day.
Military sources told AFP that at least nine people were killed in heavy fighting on Monday as a tank battle broke out in Aden.
The Arab coalition, which supports the government of Hadi, called for dialogue and for it to hear the demands of the separatists in the southern port city.
“We are calling on the legitimate government to look into the demands of the political and social movement,” said coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.
He urged “restraint” from the separatists and for them to “hold talks with the legitimate government.”
Al-Maliki said the coalition’s priority was to deliver humanitarian aid and said 12 aid flights had been sent to Aden within a week to relieve the people’s suffering.
In addition, Al-Maliki said more than 19 ships were at Yemeni ports carrying humanitarian aid for the Yemeni people.
“The Yemeni people have a right to humanitarian aid and this right should not be disrupted,” Al-Maliki said.
Hadi, meanwhile, renewed his call for a cease-fire, saying “rebellion and weapons won’t achieve peace or build a state.”
“The real and the main battle is with Iranian Houthi militias and any other side problems will impact the main battle,” he said, according to Reuters. “Any assault on legitimacy is a coup.”
UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged all parties to return to “calm and dialogue.”
As the fighting escalated in Aden, military sources told AFP that civilians were hunkered down at homes as five separatist fighters were killed by snipers and four soldiers died in clashes with tanks and heavy artillery entering the fray.
Fighters from both sides have been deployed in most areas of Aden, paralyzed for a second day after 15 people were killed and dozens wounded on Sunday.
Universities, schools and shops stayed closed, an AFP photographer said.


Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 21 March 2019
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Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.