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.


Rouhani warns Trump of ‘mother of all wars’ as US launches campaign to erode support for Iran’s regime

Updated 22 July 2018
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Rouhani warns Trump of ‘mother of all wars’ as US launches campaign to erode support for Iran’s regime

  • Rouhani warned Trump on Sunday: “Do not play with the lion’s tail or else you will regret it”
  • Trump suggested Iranian leaders are “going to call me and say ‘let’s make a deal’” but Iran rejected talks

DUBAI: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday cautioned US President Donald Trump about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “America should know ... war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” but he did not rule out peace between the two countries, either.
Iran faces increased US pressure and looming sanctions after Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
Addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state-news agency IRNA reported.
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries which have been at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reported efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
In Washington, US officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups.

More than half a dozen current and former officials said the campaign, supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, is meant to work in concert with US President Donald Trump’s push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions.

The drive has intensified since Trump withdrew on May 8 from a 2015 seven-nation deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The White House declined comment on the campaign. The State Department also declined to comment on the campaign specifically, including on Pompeo’s role.

A review of the State Department’s Farsi-language Twitter account and its ShareAmerica website — which describes itself as a platform to spark debate on democracy and other issues — shows a number of posts critical of Tehran over the last month.

Iran is the subject of four of the top five items on the website’s “Countering Violent Extremism” section. They include headlines such as “This Iranian airline helps spread violence and terror.”

In social media posts and speeches, Pompeo himself also appeals directly to Iranians, the Iranian diaspora and a global audience.

On June 21, Pompeo tweeted out graphics headlined: “Protests in Iran are growing,” “Iranian people deserve respect for their human rights,” and “Iran’s revolutionary guard gets rich while Iranian families struggle.” The tweets were translated into Farsi and posted on the ShareAmerica website.

Rouhani scoffed at Trump’s threat to halt Iranian oil exports and said Iran has a dominant position in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping waterway.
“Anyone who understands the rudiments of politics doesn’t say ‘we will stop Iran’s oil exports’...we have been the guarantor of the regional waterway’s security throughout history,” Rouhani said, cited by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday backed Rouhani’s suggestion that Iran may block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are halted.
Rouhani’s apparent threat earlier this month to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries came in reaction to efforts by Washington to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for any hostile US action. Separately, a top Iranian military commander warned that the Trump government might be preparing to invade Iran.
“The enemy’s behavior is unpredictable,” military chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri said, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
“Although the current American government does not seem to speak of a military threat, according to precise information it has been trying to persuade the US military to launch a military invasion (of Iran),” Baqeri said.
Iran’s oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by the end of the year because of new US sanctions, putting oil markets under huge strain amid supply outages elsewhere.
Washington initially planned to totally shut Iran out of global oil markets after Trump abandoned the deal that limited Iran’s nuclear ambitions, demanding all other countries to stop buying its crude by November.
But it has somewhat eased its stance since, saying that it may grant sanction waivers to some allies that are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies.