Yemeni forces launch massive new offensive to capture Hodeidah from Houthis

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Yemeni pro-government forces gather on a main road on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, as they continue to battle for the control of the city from Houthi rebels on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Yemeni pro-government forces advance towards central Hodeida, as they continue to battle for the control of the city controlled by Huthi rebels, on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Yemeni pro-government forces gather in a highway as they advance towards central Hodeida, while they continue to battle for the control of the city controlled by Huthi rebels, on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Yemeni pro-government forces gather on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, as they continue to battle for the control of the city from Huthi rebels on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 November 2018
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Yemeni forces launch massive new offensive to capture Hodeidah from Houthis

  • Trump’s administration is thinking about classifying the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization
  • Yemen’s government said its forces had advanced toward the north and western sides of Hodeidah

JEDDAH: Yemeni government forces fighting n have taken the main hospital from the Houthi militia in the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, government military officials said Saturday.
The May 22 Hospital lies in the east of the militia-held city, a key aid conduit that is the target of a renewed offensive by the Saudi and Emirati-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Yemeni government forces backed by the Arab coalition launched a “vast offensive” to take full control of Hodeidah on Friday.
The internationally recognized government based in the southern city of Aden said national army forces had advanced toward the north and western sides of the city.

“Fierce battles are taking place at these moments,” the statement said.

A total of 110 Houthi rebels have been killed in the last 24 hours of clashes in Hodeidah along with 22 pro-government troops fighting to retake the port city, AFP reported Friday.
The latest deaths raised to 382 the number of fighters killed on both sides since the battle for Hodeidah intensified on November 1.
The offensive follows a week of fighting as pro-government troops advanced into the city’s suburbs.
The Houthis have controlled Hodeidah since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and the north of the country.
They have been driven out of virtually all of the south and much of the Red Sea coast by pro-government forces and the Arab coalition, which intervened to restore the government in 2015.
The offensive comes as it emerged Donald Trump’s administration is thinking about classifying the Iran backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, the Washington Post reported.
The move would be part of a US campaign to end the war in Yemen and put pressure on Iran.
The terrorist classification, which would be made by the State Department, has been discussed frequently since at least 2016. But the matter was reviewed recently as the White House tries to outline a tough stance on Iranian-linked groups across the Middle East, the newspaper reported.
A variety of potential actions that could be taken against the Houthi militia, including lesser measures to punish them, have been considered by the administration.
However, a decision has not yet been made and it is unclear how far deliberations about the terrorist classification had progressed.
Aid agencies have warned that the fighting in Hodeidah could further exacerbate the desperate humanitarian situation in the country.
The United Nations’ refugee agency said on Friday that most of the 600,000 population of Hodeida has fled but expressed concern about those trapped in the city.
The war in Yemen has become focussed in Hodeidah, the country’s biggest port and main point of imports, including aid.


Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

Updated 21 January 2019
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Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

  • Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil called for 'effective solutions' for the return of Syrian refugees to their country
  • Summit also called for dialogue over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine

BEIRUT: The fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit was held in Beirut on Sunday, in an effort to, among other things, find ways to alleviate the suffering of refugees in the Middle East.

The summit, though attended by representatives from 20 Arab nations, was soured by the absence of most Arab heads of state, and was divided over several issues, including the absence of Syrian delegates, and a boycott by Libya.

The summit did, though, call for dialogue with the international community over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Delegates expressed their support for the Palestinian people, and cited the “collective responsibility” of all parties towards maintaining the city of Jerusalem’s “Islamic and Christian identity.”

In a statement, the summit declared: “We reiterate Palestinian refugees’ rights of return and compensation, according to the UN General Assembly’s resolution 194 of 1948.”

Delegates also discussed at great length the need for international cooperation to support the growing digital economy across the region. They emphasized “the importance of building the necessary capacity” to benefit from the digital economy, and praised the initiative launched by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to create a sovereign investment fund to support the development of technology in the Gulf and the Middle East.

They urged all Arab nations to “support this initiative to strengthen the joint Arab economy,” and called on other Arab banks and funds to invest in it.

The summit also praised the role of small and medium businesses across the Arab world for their contribution to flourishing Arab economies, as well as the implementation of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy 2030, to ensure power across the region becomes cleaner and more sustainable.

The summit was far from harmonious, though, with the Lebanese foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, addressing the hall to ask the international community “to assume its responsibilities by finding effective solutions for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.”

Bassil called on Arab nations and others to “shoulder the burden, honor their commitments and meet the refugees’ needs.”

There were also disputes over the attendance of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, as well as the boycott by Libyan delegates.

“I am saddened because of the absence of the Libyan delegation, and by the circumstances that led to this point,” Arab League president, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said.

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, echoed the words of his foreign minister, calling on the international community “to exert all efforts to provide the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and to present incentives so they can contribute to their country’s reconstruction.”

He proposed the establishment of an international Arab bank to help affected countries overcome the crisis, and invited established Arab funds to Beirut to discuss his proposals.

“I deplore the absence of other Arab presidents and kings, but each of them has his reason. Our union remains of great importance given that we will not be able to address the challenges facing our region and peoples, unless we agree on key issues,” Aoun said.

The next Arab Economic and Social Development Summit will be held in Mauritania in 2023.