Liberation of Al-Mokha ‘blow to Houthis and Iran’

Pro-government fighters give food to Yemeni children on the road leading to the southwestern port city of Mokha, in this January 26, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2017

Liberation of Al-Mokha ‘blow to Houthis and Iran’

ADEN: The Yemeni Army on Wednesday announced that it has liberated Al-Mokha strategic port and its surroundings from the grip of Houthi and deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s militias.
The army said in a statement that the operation was backed by the Saudi-led Arab alliance. It added that the coup militia elements fled toward the road leading to the city of Al-Hodeidah, west of the country.
Arab News called Rajeh Badi, a Yemeni government’s spokesman, for comment, but he didn’t reply.
Al-Mokha’s liberation has allowed coalition, government and Popular Resistance forces to link fronts in their battle against the militias.
The liberation has allowed for the elimination of Houthi rebels hiding in the city, and led to the deaths of 27 Daesh militants who were also holed up there.
The liberation represents a double strike against rebel militias and Iran, as the coalition, the Yemeni Army and Popular Resistance forces have cut off their last lifeline for the smuggling of Iranian weapons via the strategic port.
This has allowed for the halting of contraband trade by Houthis to finance their operations. Military analysts say it is also a blow to Iran, which had announced its readiness to establish naval bases close to Bab Al-Mandab, having expected continuous Houthi control of the coast of Taiz.
According to analysts, Al-Mokha’s liberation will open two main fronts: One headed toward the city of Al-Hodeidah and from there to Sanaa, and the other eastward to complete the liberation of Taiz and head toward the provinces of Ibb and Dhamar in order to fully encircle Sanaa.
The importance of control of Al-Mokha and its port lies in the fact that it secures the Bab Al-Mandab strategic naval passage, as the city links the province of Taiz with Al-Hodeidah. This allows for control over it and to regain what is left of towns along the Al-Hodeidah–Taiz route.
Analysts said control of Al-Mokha enables legitimate forces to launch military operations in the direction of the directorates on the western coast of Al-Hodeidah, and in the direction of Khaled Camp east of Al-Mokha, the largest rebel camp in Taiz, thus cutting off the main artery for arms supplies via the Red Sea.
The liberation of Al-Mokha aims to guarantee the entry of assistance to the city, and to enable preparations for the launch of the second phase of the Golden Spear operation in Yemen.
Apache helicopters played a big role in targeting Houthi boats, which had been transporting military equipment and reinforcements to rebels.
Analysts said isolating militias geographically by preventing them from controlling ports that provide financial assistance and smuggled weapons will hasten the end of the war.
Militias had been using the port of Al-Mokha to receive arms shipments from Iranian vessels, as well as for sending weapons to Al-Hodeidah port.


Tunisians emerge from lockdown into mosques and cafes

Updated 1 min 28 sec ago

Tunisians emerge from lockdown into mosques and cafes

  • Schools will stay closed to most students until the start of the new academic year in September
  • The government still restricts social gatherings at homes and urges the wearing of masks

TUNIS: Tunisians returned to mosques and cafes on Thursday as the country ended most lockdown restrictions after largely containing the spread of the novel coronavirus for now.
Sitting with friends at the Brazil coffeeshop in the Ibn Khaldoun district of Tunis, schoolteacher Nizar Jamal said he was glad to resume his daily chats with friends.
“We are again breathing the air of life. We missed the smell of coffee a lot,” he said.
Tunisia in March closed its international borders, stopped all movement between towns and cities, shuttered mosques, shops, schools, cafes and restaurants, imposed a nightly curfew and stopped people leaving homes at day for most reasons.
It has recorded 1,048 cases of the coronavirus and 48 deaths, compared with nearly 10,000 cases in neighboring Algeria. The only recent cases came from people arriving into quarantine from abroad.
Schools will stay closed to most students until the start of the new academic year in September and the government still restricts social gatherings at homes and urges the wearing of masks. International borders will reopen fully in late June.
In another Tunis district, Menzah 9, a cafe owner who gave only his first name, Mahmoud, said he was relieved to have reopened.
“This cafe provides work for 20 families. We have suffered a lot from stopping work for three months and we hope to make up for it soon,” he said.
Tunisia’s government has announced compensation measures to help businesses and needy families with the economic effects of the lockdown and has agreed a package of financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.