Yemen suspends military operation against Al-Qaeda

Updated 31 January 2013
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Yemen suspends military operation against Al-Qaeda

SANAA: Yemen suspended a military operation against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the south on Wednesday while tribal leaders tried to secure the release three Western hostages the militants are holding, a tribal leader said.
About 8,000 soldiers have been taking part in the offensive, which was launched on Monday against on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) stronghold in the small town of Al-Manaseh, in Al-Bayda province south of the capital Sanaa.
The army began its offensive after the militants rejected demands to release the hostages being held in the town.
The Finnish couple and an Austrian man were snatched last month by tribesmen in Sanaa. A Yemeni official said they were later sold to Al-Qaeda members and transferred to Al-Manaseh.
“We will meet today with both parties to discuss all issues but most importantly the release of the hostages,” Sheikh Nasser Al-Aji, a tribal chief, said in a written statement about the mediation efforts with Al-Qaeda representatives.
“Fighting has stopped between the army and Al-Qaeda followers.”
Aji said the militants had demanded that the military immediately halt its attacks and retreat to base. A senior government official in Al-Bayda said the military operation would resume if the mediation efforts faltered.
Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi has assured Finland that security forces will “safely secure the release of the hostages,” Yemen’s state news agency Saba reported yesterday.
Saba reported earlier that dozens of Al-Qaeda-linked militants had been killed and injured during the offensive, without giving details.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.