Saudi Arabia helps free French hostage from Houthis in Yemen

The Frenchman Alain Goma, retained in Yemen, was released according to the Elysee. (Twitter)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia helps free French hostage from Houthis in Yemen

  • France’s president has announced the release of the French citizen held in hostage in Yemen for more than 4 months
  • French media reported Goma was on a sailing trip when damage on the ship forced him to dock in a Yemeni port

PARIS: A Frenchman held captive in war-torn Yemen for over four months after his boat ran into trouble near the port of Hodeidah has been released with the help of Saudi Arabia, the French presidency announced Tuesday.
Alain Goma dropped anchor in Hodeidah on June 3 after running out of water while sailing to India.
Hodeidah is under the control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who took him prisoner.
It is not clear whether they made any demands of France in return for the release of Goma, who is in his fifties.
In a statement President Emmanuel Macron has congratulated all those who contributed to Alain Goma’s release. Goma will be back in France soon.
Macron said Tuesday that he’s grateful to Oman’s sultan and authorities for their “decisive” role and Saudi authorities for their help.
Yemeni security officials said the Houthis released Goma from a prison in the capital, Sanaa, which is also under rebel control.
They said the release came after “intensive” talks between France’s envoy to Yemen and Houthi leaders in Sanaa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
Goma’s family members had last month made the situation of Goma public in French media so that he wouldn’t become a “forgotten hostage.”


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 55 min 55 sec ago
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters