Pro-government forces in Yemen bolstered by an unlikely ally

Pro-government forces in Yemen bolstered by an unlikely ally
Brig. Gen. Tareq Saleh’s troops are focused on reaching Hodeidah’s port, a key entry point for supplying aid to Yemen’s civilians. Reuters
Updated 29 May 2018

Pro-government forces in Yemen bolstered by an unlikely ally

Pro-government forces in Yemen bolstered by an unlikely ally

ADEN: Yemeni forces have made major advances into Houthi-held areas in Hodeidah province in recent days, spurred on by an unlikely new ally.
Brig. Gen. Tareq Saleh, nephew of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and commander of the powerful Republican Guards, is leading his troops in the fierce fighting toward Yemen’s largest port.
Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down as president after the Arab Spring protests in 2011, but sided with the Houthis when they seized control of the capital in 2014 from the internationally recognized government. He was followed by sections of the military still loyal to him, including the elite Republican Guards.
Last summer, the Saleh-Houthi alliance crumbled and the two parties turned their guns on each other. Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by Houthi rocket fire in December and Tareq fled the Houthi territory, eventually to Aden before rebuilding his brigades in Mooch, less than 200km south of Hodeidah.
Now he is leading his fighters in the offensive against the Houthis on the west coast where they have made rapid gains in the past week.
Tareq Saleh’s forces are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with other sections of the Yemeni military and groups wanting to defeat the Iran-backed Houthis.
Ammar Aqeel, a fighter with the Republican Guards involved in the battles, told Arab News they are focused on reaching Hodeidah’s port.
“Brig. Gen. Tareq Saleh is leading the battles on the ground and every day we liberate new areas,” he said.
The fighter said they were currently in Al-Tohaita district and he was sure that during the coming days they would advance in new areas.
He said that since joining the fighting they had pushed the front line from the border between Taiz and Hodeidah provinces deep into Hodeidah itself.
He said that when the forces reached the port in Hodeidah, it would be easy to receive reinforcements from the sea.
The Yemeni army also said strong gains had been made against the Houthis in Hodeidah, with the capture of Al-Zaraniq military camp and the surrounding areas.
Local reports suggested that the army was less than 20km away from Hodiedah city.
Abdulmalek Al-Houthi, the militia’s leader, reportedly tried to assure his followers that the losses in Hodeidah were small.
A spokesman for Yemen’s army, Sadeq Dawaid, told Sky News Arabia that after liberating Houthi areas, the army was then faced with heavily mined land which it had to clear.
“Houthis have an obsession with planting land mines. They do it randomly, often injuring and killing their own forces in the process,” Dawaid said.
Aqeel also said the Houthis had laid as many mines as possible to slow their progress.
He said many new fighters were joining Tareq Saleh’s forces, some of whom fled from the Houthi-controlled areas in the north and others from government-held territory.
Tareq Saleh’s defection and new role battling the Houthis has been criticized by some pro-government groups unwilling to forgive his military support for the Houthis.
Aqeel believes, however, that the new advances on the country’s west coast were evidence that the commander is now loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition.
“We do not care about criticism, we are focusing on advances toward Hodeidah to prove these accusations are wrong.”
Abdulkareem Al-Madi, a political analyst and a leader of the General People’s Congress, Saleh’s party, said the liberation of Hodeidah is going according to a perfect plan, which needs time to be implemented.
“There are some people wanting to hurry the liberation of Hodeidah and they are not aware that the pro-government forces do not attack randomly, but they attack specific targets to avoid targeting civilians.”
Al-Madi said Tareq Saleh’s forces include fighters from all of Yemen’s provinces and from different military units.
He said more fighters were preparing to join the battle.
He also said they were coordinating with all the other groups of the pro-government forces.


Lebanon extends area claimed in border dispute with Israel

Lebanon extends area claimed in border dispute with Israel
Updated 21 min 15 sec ago

Lebanon extends area claimed in border dispute with Israel

Lebanon extends area claimed in border dispute with Israel
  • Public Works Minister signed a decree amendment that would formally extend Lebanon’s claims by 1,430 square kilometers
  • Lebanon’s unilateral move likely to anger Israel and the U.S. who aren’t expected to recognize the disputed area’s extension

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s outgoing public works minister said Monday that he has signed a decree that would increase the area claimed by the Mediterranean country in a maritime border dispute with Israel.
Public Works Minister Michel Najjar told reporters that he has signed an amendment of the decree that would formally extend Lebanon’s claims by 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles).
The unilateral move by Lebanon is likely to anger Israel and the US who are not expected to recognize Beirut’s extension of the disputed area.
Lebanon and Israel began indirect talks with US mediation in October to reach a deal over the disputed area that is believed to be rich with oil and natural gas deposits. The meetings that stopped few weeks later were being held at a UN post along the border of the two nations that remain technically in a state of war.
The negotiations were the first non-security talks to be held between the two countries, which have no diplomatic relations following decades of conflict. Resolving the border issue could pave the way for lucrative oil and gas deals on both sides.
In late October, the Lebanese delegation to the talks — a mix of army generals and professionals — offered a new map that pushes for an additional 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles).
This area is to be included in Lebanese territory on top of the already disputed 860 square kilometer- (330 square mile-) area of the Mediterranean Sea that each side claims is within their own exclusive economic zones.
Najjar said, however, that the decree still required the signatures of the defense minister, prime minister and president to go into effect.
The announcement came as US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale was expected in Lebanon this week to meet Lebanese officials.
Lebanon is passing through its worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history and had plans to start drilling in search for oil and gas in the disputed area this year.
Israel has already developed offshore natural gas rigs, producing enough for domestic consumption and export abroad. Lebanon hopes that its own oil and gas discoveries will help alleviate its long-running economic troubles.
It was not immediately known how the US and Israel would respond to the Lebanese decision.


Syrian regime used chemical weapons in 2018 attack on Saraqib

Syrian regime used chemical weapons in 2018 attack on Saraqib
Updated 12 April 2021

Syrian regime used chemical weapons in 2018 attack on Saraqib

Syrian regime used chemical weapons in 2018 attack on Saraqib
  • Syrian Arab Air Force used the chemical weapon chlorine in an attack on the town of Saraqib in 2018
  • OPCW previously reported that Assad’s air force used the nerve agent sarin and chlorine in two attacks on the village of Lataminah in March 2017

THE HAGUE: The Syrian regime’s air force used the chemical weapon chlorine in an attack on the town of Saraqib in 2018, the global toxic arms watchdog said on Monday after an investigation.
The report is the second by an investigations team set up by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has the new power to apportion blame for attacks.
The OPCW said in a statement that the Investigations and Identification Team “concludes that units of the Syrian Arab Air Force used chemical weapons in Saraqib on 4 February 2018.”
“The report reached the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, at approximately 21:22 on 4 February 2018, a military helicopter of the Syrian Arab Air Force under the control of the Tiger Forces hit eastern Saraqib by dropping at least one cylinder,” the OPCW report said.
“The cylinder ruptured and released chlorine over a large area, affecting 12 named individuals.”
The team issued its first report a year ago, in which it said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air force used the nerve agent sarin and chlorine in two attacks on the village of Lataminah in March 2017.


34 migrants dead after boat capsizes off Djibouti: IOM

34 migrants dead after boat capsizes off Djibouti: IOM
Updated 12 April 2021

34 migrants dead after boat capsizes off Djibouti: IOM

34 migrants dead after boat capsizes off Djibouti: IOM
  • Survivors reported that the boat capsized in rough seas at around 4:00 am after leaving Yemen with around 60 passengers on board

DJIBOUTI: Thirty-four migrants drowned on Monday after their boat capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, the second such accident in just over a month.
Survivors reported that the boat capsized in rough seas at around 4:00 am (0100 GMT) after leaving Yemen with around 60 passengers on board, an IOM official in Djibouti told AFP, asking not to be named.
"The migrants were being transported by people smugglers," Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM's regional director for East Africa and the Horn of Africa, added on Twitter.
"Apprehending and prosecuting people traffickers and smugglers who exploit the vulnerabilities of migrants must become a priority. Too many lives needlessly lost."
There were "many children" among the bodies found, the first official said, adding that survivors were receiving treatment from the IOM and local authorities.
The boat capsized in seas north of the Djibouti port town of Obock, a major transit point for thousands of African migrants in the region trying to reach the Gulf.
It follows a similar accident on March 4 when 20 people drowned after smugglers threw dozens of migrants overboard during a journey between Djibouti and Yemen across the Gulf of Aden.
At least 200 migrants were packed aboard that vessel when it left Djibouti. But about 30 minutes into the voyage the smugglers panicked about the weight on board, and threw 80 people into the sea before turning back towards land.
Two similar incidents in October claimed the lives of at least 50 migrants.
Every year thousands of migrants make perilous boat journeys from the Horn of Africa to war-torn Yemen, many with the aim of travelling overland to Gulf nations in search of work.
It is believed thousands of migrants are stranded in Yemen, where a years-long conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions in what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The strait which separates Djibouti from Yemen is unusual in that it sees migrants and refugees passing in both directions -- boatloads of Yemenis fleeing to Africa to escape war, while others head in the opposite direction carrying African migrants to the Arabian Peninsula in search of better opportunities.


Netanyahu says will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

Netanyahu says will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons
Updated 32 min 46 sec ago

Netanyahu says will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

Netanyahu says will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons
  • Israel will never allow Tehran to build nuclear weapons says Netanyahu
  • Iran blamed Israel for Sunday's incident at the Natanz nuclear site, threatens revenge

DUBAI: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran has never given up efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and that Israel will never allow Tehran to build them.
The Israeli leader, addressing reporters with visiting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at his side, made no comment about Iran's accusation that Israel had sabotaged its key Natanz nuclear site.

Iran blamed Israel for Sunday's incident at the Natanz nuclear site and will take its revenge, state TV quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Monday.
Iranian authorities described the incident a day earlier as an act of "nuclear terrorism" and said Tehran reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators.
Iran and world powers held what they described as "constructive" talks last week aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran that Washington abandoned three years ago.
"The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions ... they have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists," Zarif was quoted as saying.

On Monday, Iran had identified the person who disrupted flow of power at the Natanz nuclear facility that led to electricity outage in the site, Iran’s Nournews website quoted intelligence sources as saying.
“The person has been identified ... Necessary measures are being taken to arrest this person who caused the electricity outage in one of the halls at the Natanz site,” the website reported. It gave no details about the person.


Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international

Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international
Updated 12 April 2021

Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international

Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international
  • The program is an expansion of last year’s local ‘10 Million Meals’
  • Donations can be made across the globe to the campaign through www.100millionmeals.ae

DUBAI: The ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign, launched by Dubai’s ruler, will provide food parcels for the needy across 20 countries during Ramadan.
The program is an expansion of last year’s local ‘10 Million Meals,’ which distributed food in communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic across the country.
Individuals and companies across the globe can make donations to the campaign through www.100millionmeals.ae, which will then distribute food in countries such as Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Angola, Uganda and Egypt.
“Providing food during the holy month of Ramadan is the best we can give from the UAE to humanity,” Dubai’s Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) will work with the UN World Food Program, Food Banking Regional Network and local humanitarian organizations in receiving countries to distribute food for those in need.
“We will work with humanitarian organizations, companies, entities and humanitarians to join us in securing 100 million meals to bring a sense of safety to underserved homes across the world,” Al-Maktoum said.  
The campaign also supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end hunger by 2030.