GCC condemns ‘coup’ in Yemen

Updated 09 February 2015

GCC condemns ‘coup’ in Yemen

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council has accused the Houthi movement of staging a coup in Yemen after they announced they were dissolving parliament and forming a new government, Kuwait’s news agency said.
“The Houthi coup marks a grave and unacceptable escalation... and endangers the security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen,” the GCC said in a statement from its Riyadh headquarters.
The GCC had urged the Houthis to pull out of Sanaa, which the militia overran in September.
The GCC said its own security was linked to that of Yemen and vowed to take “all the necessary measures to defend their interests.”
The Gulf states called on the UN Security Council to intervene and put an end to the “coup which has placed Yemen and its people in a dark tunnel.”
The turmoil in Yemen has raised fears that the country could become a failed state. The opposition of the GCC may signal growing isolation for Yemen and reflects Sunni Muslim hostility toward the Houthi group.
“This Houthi coup is a dangerous escalation which we reject and is unacceptable. It totally contradicts the spirit of pluralism and coexistence which Yemen has known,” the GCC statement added.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in three cities in central Yemen to protest the Houthis seizing power. Houthi gunmen dispersed dozens of activists near the capital’s main university by firing into the air.
Protesters chanted slogans calling the Houthi moves a “coup” and demanded the group withdraw its forces from major cities.
The Houthis dissolved parliament on Friday and set up a five-member presidential council to form a transitional government to govern for two years.
Abdel Malik Al-Houthi, the group’s leader, said he was open to all parties playing a role in Yemen’s future.
“Our hand is extended to every political force in this country ... the space is open for partnership, cooperation and brotherhood and now everybody bears their responsibility for building, not destruction,” he said in a televised speech.
Tensions ran high in Sanaa on Saturday, with armed Houthis out in force near main government buildings.
A rudimentary bomb exploded outside the republican palace in Sanaa, wounding three militiamen, eyewitnesses said.
Yemen’s Houthi movement dissolved parliament on Friday and said it would set up a new interim government.
The Houthis entered Sanaa in September and began to fan out into more cities in Yemen’s south and west.


US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

Updated 9 min 38 sec ago

US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access
  • Mnuchin: Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury slapped punitive sanctions on Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Friday after the Tehran regime blocked Internet communications amid violent protests triggered by a petrol price hike.
“We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.
“Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” Mnuchin said.
The protests erupted across the country on November 15, after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 percent.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, while Amnesty International said that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed after authorities reportedly used live ammunition to quell the protests, which brought attacks on police stations and petrol stations and some looting of shops.
The Treasury said Azari Jahomi is a former official of the Ministry of Intelligence who has advanced Internet censorship since becoming minister two years ago.
He has “also been involved in surveillance against opposition activists,” the Treasury said.
Internet service remained mostly blocked on Friday for a sixth day, with officials and news agencies saying the blackout was gradually being rolled back.
The sanctions would freeze financial assets and property Azari Jahomi has in US jurisdictions and forbid Americans or US businesses, especially banks, from dealing with him.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Iran of blocking the Internet to cover up “death and tragedy” resulting from the protests.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Trump tweeted.
“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” he wrote.