Yemeni forces make further progress against Houthi militias in Saada province

File photo showing Yemeni army troops advancing further in Saada Province. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Yemeni forces make further progress against Houthi militias in Saada province

  • Yemeni Commander: Army units succeeded in cutting the Houthi militias’ supply lines to Harad and Al-Malahiz in Saada province
  • Col. Al-Maliki: The pace of military operations in Saada is moving rapidly and troops have made progress and gained new territory from the Houthis in Saada

LONDON: The commander of Yemen’s special forces brigade, General Adel Al-Mosaabi, said that his troops took over control of the route connecting Maran and Al-Malahiz in the south-west of Saada province – the Houthi militias’ key area of support.
Al-Mosaabi said, in a statement published on the Yemeni army’s web page, that his units advanced to the road connecting the city of Saadah with the Al-Malahiz-Harad road junction. 
The general declared that his forces succeeded, with air support from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, in cutting the Houthi militias’ supply lines to Harad and Al-Malahiz after a battle that cost the Houthis at least 12 dead and the destruction of several of their armored vehicles.

In Hodeidah, on Friday, the 'Amalika' army brigade announced that it has repelled a Houthi counter attack on Hodeidah airport. The statement posted on the brigade's web page said that the Iran backed Houthi militia tried to infiltrate the Yemeni army's lines at Hodeidah airport. The attack was thwarted, and a senior Houthi militia commander was captured.  

Earlier, the Saudi-led Arab coalition spokesperson said Friday that military operations in Saada are picking up momentum. 
Col. Turki Al-Maliki was speaking at a press conference in Brussels, where he added that the pace of military operations in Saada- the Iran backed Houthi militia’s stronghold, is moving rapidly, stressing that military operations in Saada have made progress and gained new territory from the Houthis.
Al-Maliki, who was in Belgium to hold talks with European officials on the situation in Yemen and aid delivery to the war-torn country, added that the coalition’s operations in Yemen are “aimed at pressuring the Houthi militias to accept the political solution,” and that “the safety of people in Yemen was the coalition’s top priority.”
Col. Turki Al-Maliki explained at the press conference that the Saudi-led coalition's control of Hodeidah will safeguard maritime navigation in the Bab Al-Mandab strait in the Red sea. 
“The political diplomatic solution is always the best option for the Yemeni people,” he added, stating that the coalition was continuing its efforts to restore the legitimately elected government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Yemen.
The Yemeni national army, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, launched last week an operation to liberate Hodeidah and its strategic port from the Iran-backed Houthi militias.

Al-Maliki also accused the Houthis of using civilian residences as military fortifications. They have also imposed additional taxes on business owners to fund their war effort he said.
On the Humanitarian aid front, Col Al-Maliki said that the coalition has been using all possible ways to deliver medical and food aid to Hodeidah. “Aid is being delivered throughout Yemen without discrimination,” he said.

On the other hand, Al-Maliki said that the Houthis have arrested several human rights groups workers. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement Friday that civilians have been fleeing the combat zones in Hoddeidah province.
"More people are fleeing areas of conflict and seeking shelter in safer locations, including in the capital Sanaa," 150 kilometres (95 miles) to the northeast and also under Houthi control, the Humanitarian agency (OCHA) said in a statement.
It said some of the displaced had arrived in the capital but specific figures were not yet available.


In Iraq, bloody tribal custom now classed as ‘terrorism’

A member of an Iraqi clan enters a straw tent in the town of Mishkhab, south of Najaf on November 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 44 min 57 sec ago
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In Iraq, bloody tribal custom now classed as ‘terrorism’

  • In Iraq, a country of 39 million people, clan origin and family name can carry weight in securing a job, finding romance, and gathering political support

BAGHDAD: A bloody, age-old custom used by Iraq’s powerful tribes to mete out justice has come under fire, with authorities classifying it as a “terrorist act” punishable by death.
For centuries, Iraqi clans have used their own system to resolve disputes, with tribal dignitaries bringing together opposing sides to mediate in de facto “hearings.”
If one side failed to attend such a meeting, the rival clan would fire on the absentee’s home or that of fellow tribesmen, a practice known as the “degga ashairiya” or “tribal warning.”
But in an age when Iraq’s vast rural areas and built-up cities alike are flooded with weapons outside state control, the “degga” may be deadlier than ever.
A recent dispute between two young men in a teashop in the capital’s eastern district of Sadr City escalated to near-fatal proportions, leaving a 40-year-old policeman with a broken hip and severely damaged abdomen.
His cousin Abu Tayba said the policeman was “wounded in a stray bullet during a ‘degga’ on a nearby home.”
“Weeks after the incident, he’s still in the hospital, hovering between life and death,” Tayba told AFP.
Even in Baghdad, disputes often involve machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the city’s military command warned a top Iraqi court recently.
That body, the country’s Superior Magistrate Council, issued a decision last week classifying “deggas” as “terrorist acts” — and therefore warranting the death penalty — because of their impact on public safety.
A few days later, it announced it would take legal action against three people accused of targeting a home in Al-Adhamiyah, north of Baghdad, with the deadly custom.

In Iraq, a country of 39 million people, clan origin and family name can carry weight in securing a job, finding romance, and gathering political support.
They can also interfere in the work of the state, as tribal structures in some areas can be more powerful than government institutions.
Last year, Iraq’s tribes and the ministries of interior and justice pledged to work closer together to impose the law, but “deggas” seem to have hindered such cooperation.
Raed Al-Fraiji, the head of a tribal council in the southern province of Basra, told AFP the warnings have become commonplace.
“This happens every day. Yesterday it happened twice. The day before, three times,” he said.
“Two months ago, a domestic dispute between a husband and wife turned into an armed attack on the husband’s home. The exchange of fire killed one person and wounded three.”
Fraiji said tribal influence and practices were growing because the state was seen as unreliable.
“For an Iraqi citizen, the law has become weak. Meanwhile, tribes impose themselves by force.”
“Iraq is like a jungle — so a citizen will turn to a tribe to find solutions to their problems.”
The country has been ravaged by years of conflict since the US-led invasion in 2003 that removed strongman Saddam Hussein and led to the rise of militias.
A decade later, the Daesh group overran much of Iraq and was only ousted from its urban strongholds across the country late last year.

Years of instability have left many of Iraq’s communities flush with weapons and largely out of the state’s reach, contributing to a preference for tribal mediation methods.
“The government is responsible for the increase in tribal conflict and of ‘degga’ cases,” said Adnan Al-Khazaali, a tribal leader in Baghdad’s Sadr City.
“Most of the young men today are armed and even the security forces cannot stand in their way.”
Tribal leaders and government officials alike are clinging to the hope that the new ruling could change things.
“These incidents are continually happening, and are often causing casualties,” interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan told AFP.
“Court rulings and their implementation,” Maan said, could be the only way to secure peace.
Back in Basra, the head of the local human rights commission estimated around a dozen people were wounded or killed in “deggas” last year.
“These incidents threatens social peace,” said Mahdi Al-Tamimi.
“It’s sad and worrying, and cannot be eliminated without a solid and effective law.”
But Fraiji, known in Basra for his relatively progressive views, feared the court’s ruling would not be enough to take on Iraq’s powerful clans.
“The decision will only remain ink on paper if the security forces do not enforce it on the tribes,” he said.