Houthis ‘putting pressure’ on UN aid organizations in Yemen

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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 27 August 2018
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Houthis ‘putting pressure’ on UN aid organizations in Yemen

  • Al-Maliki urges UN bodies not to remain silent over Houthi violations
  • Saudi air defenses shoot down another missile fired toward Jazan

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition on Monday accused the Houthi militia of putting “pressures” on UN humanitarian organizations operating in Yemen.
Spokesman Col Turki Al-Maliki called on them not to remain silent on abuses committed by the the Iran-backed militants.
“We call on UN organizations in Yemen to be neutral and not tolerate violations,” he said, at e news conference in Riyadh.
The coalition is fighting in support of forces loyal to the internationally recognized government against the Houthis, which seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.
The UN, which has several of its aid agencies operating in the country, has called peace talks for next month.
But Al-Maliki said the coalition was surprised by some of the statements made by UN officials, who he said have taken wrong stances based on “false allegations.”
He referred to an attack on a fish market and hospital in Hodeidah earlier this month, which the coalition said was carried out by the Houthis. At least 55 civilians were killed and 170 injured.
Al-Maliki also said the UN failed to respond to accusations that the Houthis had seized control of warehouses used by an international aid organization. 
He said Yemen’s humanitarian ports are operating at full capacity and that air, land and sea permits are granted continuously, especially to aid relief vessels.
The Houthis have fired eight ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia in recent days, five of which were during the Hajj pilgrimage. 

On Monday, another ballistic missile was launched by the Houthis from Saada province in Yemen toward Jazan, in Saudi Arabia. The Royal Saudi Air Defense managed to intercept the missile and no injuries were reported, Al Maliki said. 

Al-Maliki said the Houthis are using prisons to train militants and schools and hospitals for military purposes.
“We continue to neutralize ballistic missile launchpads belonging to the militias,” Al-Maliki said. 
Last week the coalition destroyed a SAM-6 air defense system operated by the Houthi militias in Sanaa.
He also said the Yemeni national army has made a major advance in the province of Al-Bayda.


Sudan protests rumble on as Bashir remains defiant

Updated 17 January 2019
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Sudan protests rumble on as Bashir remains defiant

  • Rights group Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40, including children and medical staff
  • Bashir has remained steadfast in rejecting calls for him to resign

KHARTOUM: One month after protests erupted across Sudan against rising bread prices, anti-government demonstrations have turned into daily rallies against a defiant President Omar al-Bashir who has rejected calls to resign.
Protest organisers have called for a march on the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum on Thursday, along with simultaneous demonstrations in several other cities.
Authorities say at least 24 people have died since the protests first broke out on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.
Rights group Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40, including children and medical staff.
The protests have escalated into nationwide anti-government demonstrations that experts say pose the biggest challenge to Bashir since he took power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.
"I have been demonstrating and will continue to demonstrate until this regime is overthrown," vowed Adel Ibrahim, 28, who has participated in demonstrations in Khartoum.
"We are protesting to save our future and the future of our homeland."
Protests initially broke out in the eastern town of Atbara, which has a history of anti-government sentiment, and within days spread to other provinces and then to Khartoum.
Cities like Port Sudan, Gadaref, Kassala and agricultural regions that previously backed Bashir saw protests calling for him to step down, while the western region of Darfur too witnessed rallies against the 75-year-old veteran leader.
Using social media networks to mobilise crowds, most protesters have marched chanting "Peace, freedom, justice", while some have even adopted the 2011 Arab Spring slogan -- "the people want the fall of the regime".
Crowds of demonstrators, whistling and clapping, have braved volleys of tear gas whenever they have taken to the streets, witnesses said.
"There's a momentum now and people are coming out daily," said prominent Sudanese columnist Faisal Mohamed Salih.
"Even the authorities are astonished."
Although the unrest was triggered by the cut in a vital bread subsidy, Sudan has faced a mounting economic crisis in the past year, including an acute shortage of foreign currency.
Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported across cities, including in Khartoum, while the cost of food and medicine has more than doubled.
Officials have blamed Washington for Sudan's economic woes.
The US imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997 that was lifted only in October 2017. It restricted Sudan from conducting international business and financial transactions.
But critics of Bashir say his government's mismanagement of key sectors and its huge spending on fighting ethnic minority rebellions in Darfur and in areas near the South Sudan border has been stoking economic trouble for years.
"If this regime continues like this, we will soon lose our country, which is why we have to fight," said Ibrahim, who has been looking for a job for years.
An umbrella group of unions of doctors, teachers and engineers calling itself the Sudanese Professionals' Association has spearheaded the campaign, calling this week the "Week of Uprising".
"Protesters don't even know the organisers by names, but they still trust them," said Salih.
Sudanese authorities led by the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have cracked down on protesters, drawing international criticism.
More than 1,000 people, including protesters, activists, opposition leaders and journalists have been arrested so far, rights groups say.
Bashir has remained steadfast in rejecting calls for him to resign.
"Demonstrations will not change the government," he told a rally in Darfur on Monday as supporters chanted "Stay, stay".
"There's only one road to power and that is through the ballot box. The Sudanese people will decide in 2020 who will govern them," said Bashir, who is planning to run for the presidency for the third time in elections to be held next year.
Two uprisings in Sudan in 1964 and 1985 saw regimes change within days, but experts say this time protesters have a long road ahead.
"At the moment, Bashir appears to have the majority of the security services on his side," said Willow Berridge, a lecturer at Britain's Newcastle University.
Bashir's ruling National Congress Party has dismissed the demonstrations.
"There are some gatherings, but they are isolated and not big," party spokesman Ibrahim al-Siddiq told AFP.
The International Crisis Group think-tank said Bashir might well weather the unrest.
"But if he does, it will almost certainly be at the cost of further economic decline, greater popular anger, more protests and even tougher crackdowns," it said in a report.
Salih said protesters appeared to be determined.
"But the one who tires first will lose," he said.