US boots on ground in Yemen

A picture taken on May 3, 2016 shows a Yemeni security forces member patrolling a street in the Yemeni port of Mukalla, in the Hadramawt province, 480 km east of Aden. (AFP)
Updated 07 May 2016

US boots on ground in Yemen

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time Friday it has deployed US troops to Yemen since the country’s collapse last year to bolster government and Arab coalition forces battling Al-Qaeda.

Spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the US military has also stepped up airstrikes against fighters with Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A “very small number” of American military personnel have been working from a “fixed location” with Yemeni and Arab coalition forces — especially the Emiratis — in recent weeks around Mukalla, a port city seized by AQAP a year ago, Davis said.
“This is of great interest to us. It does not serve our interests to have a terrorist organization in charge of a port city, and so we are assisting in that,” the spokesman added.
He said the troops were helping the Emiratis with “intelligence support,” but refused to say if they are special operations forces.
AQAP terrorists have now fled Mukalla and other coastal areas, due to the government offensive.
In a statement posted online, the Houthis threatened to “fight with all our means” the US and UAE presence in southern Yemen.
Meanwhile, gunmen on Friday killed the chief of the main prison in Aden where terrorists remain active, a security source said.
Wahab Nejib Ahmed Aoun and a relative were gunned down by two men on a motorbike in the central district of Mansura where the prison is located. The incident comes a week after a similar attack claimed the life of a police colonel in the city.
On Thursday, AQAP began withdrawing from Abyan provincial capital Zinjibar and the nearby city of Jaar following tribal mediation to spare them from destruction.


Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

Updated 13 min 59 sec ago

Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

  • Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risked accusations of hypocrisy on Monday as he repeated his denunciations of Israel’s occupation and annexations in Palestine while allowing the Israeli airline El Al to resume cargo flights between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

The first such flight in 10 years landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment for US medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

As the plane touched down, Erdogan was sending a message to US Muslims restating his support for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem and his rejection of Israeli oppression.

“Last week we witnessed that a new occupation and annexation project, which disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law, was implemented by Israel,” he said.

“I would like to reiterate that Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the holy site of three religions and our first qiblah, is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”

Israel’s new unity government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz is expected to move forward soon with plans to annex swaths of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

Meanwhile, as Arab News reported this month, Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean. Erdogan is attempting a risky political balancing act, analysts told Arab News.

“I think Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because the political benefits of blockade and isolation have weakened,” said Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the geopolitical risk company Stratfor.

“But at the same time, they do want to keep some of that tradition of sympathy for Palestine alive for those remaining supporters who still prize the issue.”