UN ‘alarmed’ over renewed Yemen violence after drone attack

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Yemeni security forces loyal to the Houthis stand guard during a demonstration outside the United Nations office in the capital Sanaa on December 10, 2018. (File/AFP)
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UN envoy Martin Griffiths has urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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UN ‘alarmed’ over renewed Yemen violence after drone attack

  • A Houthi drone attacked a Yemeni government military parade in Lahaj province that killed six people
  • The UN was hoping the Sweden talks would help launch formal peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties

DUBAI: The UN envoy to Yemen said he was “alarmed” over the escalation of violence after a rebel drone attack on the country’s largest air base killed six loyalist soldiers.

In tweets posted overnight Thursday Martin Griffiths urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint.

The Shiite Houthi rebels said they carried out the strike which hit a military parade at Al-Anad air base, in government-held Lahij province some 60 kilometers north of Yemen’s second city Aden.

Six loyalist soldiers were killed and at least 12 people wounded, including top commanders, medics said.

Yemen’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Al-Hadrami on Thursday meanwhile said that repeated violations by the Houthi militia were obstructing peace efforts in Yemen.

Al-Hadrami stressed during his meeting with Junaid Munir, the US Deputy Ambassador to Yemen, the need for the international community, the UN and the Yemen peace process sponsors to condemn the infractions and to have a firm position against the Houthis’ non-compliance.

The attack comes as the UN, which brokered several agreements between the rebels and the Saudi-backed government at talks in Sweden last month, is desperately seeking to relaunch negotiations for an end to four years of devastating conflict.

Griffiths tweeted that he was “alarmed by today’s (Thursday) escalation of violence in Yemen.”

 

He urged “all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation” and to “create a conducive environment to maintain the positive momentum generated” in Sweden.

The UN was hoping last month’s talks in Sweden would help launch formal peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties.

Thursday’s attack is likely to create a new obstacle for those efforts.

The Houthis said in November they were halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government forces. However, the Saudi-led Arab coalition has reported several attempted missile attacks iin recent weeks, and accused the Houthis of committing numerous violations of the Hodeidah agreement.

In Sweden, the warring sides agreed truce deals for the key rebel-held aid port of Hodeidah and for battleground third city Taiz.

The Houthis last month claimed to have pulled out of Hodeidah port in compliance with the pact, but the UN had expressed doubts until other concerned parties have made verified the credibility of such move.

The drone strike drew condemnation from the UAE, a key contributor to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.

The “murderous drone attack tells you everything you need about the Houthis. Peace negotiations are a tactic to them, not a commitment,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.

“464 cease-fire violations, 36 killed & 318 wounded since (Sweden) agreement. The international community must increase pressure,” he said, blaming the Houthis for the slow progress of peace efforts.

The war between the Houthis and loyalist troops escalated in March 2015, when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people and pushed some 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.


Hamas unveils Iran-funded homes for former Israel prisoners

Updated 17 January 2019
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Hamas unveils Iran-funded homes for former Israel prisoners

  • Hamas officials say the program is a first of its kind to be funded by Iran
  • The prisoners ministry says the project will give away 26 apartments in a new building to 125 former prisoners

GAZA CITY: Hamas said Thursday it had allocated new homes funded by Iran in Gaza to former Palestinian prisoners who had been held in Israeli jails.
The prisoners ministry said 26 apartments in a new building in southern Gaza had been given out in a lottery between 125 former Palestinian prisoners.
Officials from Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, said the program was the first of its kind funded by Iran.
A second building will be constructed in northern Gaza, the ministry said, adding the project aimed to “reduce the suffering of our freed prisoners.”
Iran has long been a strong backer of Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad, providing them with funds, weapons and training.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.
Israel regards Iran as its main enemy, accusing of seeking the destruction of the Jewish state though its support for militant groups such as Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.