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.


German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

Updated 24 November 2020

German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

  • Germany insists it acted correctly in boarding a Turkish ship to enforce arms embargo of Libya
  • Turkey summoned European diplomats to complain at the operation

BERLIN: Germany’s defense minister on Tuesday rejected Turkey’s complaints over the search of a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean Sea by a German frigate participating in a European mission, insisting that German sailors acted correctly.
Sunday’s incident prompted Turkey to summon diplomats representing the European Union, Germany and Italy and assert that the Libya-bound freighter Rosaline-A was subjected to an “illegal” search by personnel from the German frigate Hamburg. The German ship is part of the European Union’s Irini naval mission, which is enforcing an arms embargo against Libya.
German officials say that the order to board the ship came from Irini’s headquarters in Rome and that Turkey protested while the team was on board. The search was then ended.
Turkey says the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed the German crew’s actions.
“It is important to me to make really clear that the Bundeswehr soldiers behaved completely correctly,” she said during an appearance in Berlin. “They did what is asked of them in the framework of the European Irini mandate.”
“That there is this debate with the Turkish side points to one of the fundamental problems of this European mission,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added, without elaborating. “But it is very important to me to say clearly here that there are no grounds for these accusations that are now being made against the soldiers.”
This was the second incident between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally enforcing an arms blockade against Libya.
In June, NATO launched an investigation over an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.
Turkey supports a UN-backed government in Tripoli against rival forces based in the country’s east. It has complained that the EU naval operation focuses its efforts too much on the Tripoli administration and turns a blind eye to weapons sent to the eastern-based forces.
In Ankara, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Irini was “flawed from the onset.”
“It is not based on firm international legal foundations,” Akar said. He renewed Turkey’s criticism of the German ship’s actions.
“The incident was against international laws and practices. It was wrong,” he said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that “Turkey is still an important partner for us in NATO.” Turkey being outside the military alliance would make the situation even more difficult, she argued, and Turkish soldiers are “absolutely reliable partners” in NATO missions.
But she conceded that Turkey poses “a big challenge” because of how its domestic politics have developed and because it has its “own agenda, which is difficult to reconcile with European questions in particular.”