Truce ‘dead duck’ if Houthi breaches go on: Coalition

The coalition urged the UN to quickly deploy officers to oversee the withdrawal of the opposing forces from the city and its outskirts. (AFP)
Updated 20 December 2018

Truce ‘dead duck’ if Houthi breaches go on: Coalition

  • A total of 21 violations since cease-fire commencement have come to our notice, says coalition source told AFP

DUBAI: A hard-won truce in the battleground Yemeni city of Hodeidah will collapse if militia violations persist and the UN does not intervene, the Saudi-led coalition said on Wednesday.

UN observers are due to arrive in the Red Sea port city during the day to chair monitoring teams made up of Yemeni government and Houthi representatives tasked with overseeing the implementation of the cease-fire that took effect on Tuesday.

“A total of 21 violations since cease-fire commencement have come to our notice,” a coalition source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“If the UN continues to drag the chain and take too long to get into the (military) theater, they will lose the opportunity altogether... and the agreement will turn a dead duck,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said in English.

“We will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt and show restraint but early indicators are not promising.”

The coalition urged the UN to quickly deploy officers to oversee the withdrawal of the opposing forces from the city and its outskirts, warning that the truce could break down. 

A UN team led by a Dutch general is expected to travel to Hodeidah later this week.

Meanwhile, the coalition bombed an air base next to Sanaa’s international airport, destroying a rocket launcher and a drone that it said was preparing to carry out an attack.

It said the Houthis are using the airport “as a military camp in violation of international humanitarian law.”

An aid group meanwhile said that more than half-a-million displaced people in Yemen face the “double threat” of famine and freezing temperatures as winter sets in.

In addition to the UN-supervised withdrawal of fighters from Hodeidah, the International Committee of the Red Cross is due to oversee a promised exchange of around 15,000 prisoners.

A “mutual understanding” was also reached to facilitate aid deliveries to Yemen’s third city Taiz — under the control of loyalists but besieged by the Houthi militia.

Hodeidah residents said on Tuesday they hoped the truce would lead to lasting peace in the war-ravaged Arabian Peninsula country.

“We hope that this cease-fire agreement holds and for this war to end because the people of Yemen have had enough of this wicked war,” Amine Awad said.


Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Hosni Mubarak

Updated 5 min 55 sec ago

Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Hosni Mubarak

  • The Republican Guard carried Mubarak’s casket wrapped in the Egyptian flag
  • To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt’s modern history

CAIRO: Egypt was holding a full-honors military funeral Wednesday for the country’s former autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, who was for decades the face of stability in the Middle East but who was ousted from power in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that swept much of the region.
A few dozen Mubarak supporters, clad in black and carrying posters of the former president, had gathered since morning hours at a mosque complex in an eastern New Cairo neighborhood, where Mubarak’s body was brought for the funeral service.
The Republican Guard carried Mubarak’s casket wrapped in the Egyptian flag.
The 91-year-old Mubarak died on Tuesday at a Cairo military hospital from heart and kidney complications, according to medical documents obtained by The Associated Press. He was admitted to hospital on Jan. 21 with intestinal obstruction and underwent surgery, after which he was treated in intensive care.
To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt’s modern history but his rule of nearly 30 years ended after hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, forcing him to step down.

Perhaps ironically, Mubarak’s funeral service was held at the Tantawi Mosque in eastern Cairo, named for now retired Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ran Egypt following Mubarak’s ouster and until the election of Islamist President Muhammed Morsi in 2012.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi attended the service, which was to be followed later in the day by burial at the cemetery in Heliopolis, an upscale Cairo district that was Mubarak’s home for most of his rule and where he lived until his death.
On Tuesday, El-Sisi extended condolences to the former president’s family, including his widow Suzanne and two sons, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal.
In a statement, El-Sisi praised Mubarak’s service during the 1973 war with Israel but made no mention of his rule as president of the most populous Arab state. Three days of national mourning were to begin Wednesday, El-Sisi announced.
Pro-government media paid tribute to Mubarak, focusing on his role in the 1973 war with Israel when Mubarak, a pilot by training, commanded Egypt’s air force.
“Through his military and political career, Mubarak made undeniable achievements and sacrifices,” the state-run Al-Aharm newspaper eulogized Mubarak in its editorial Wednesday.
Born in May 1928, Mubarak was vice president on Oct. 6, 1981, when his mentor, President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by Islamic extremists while reviewing a military parade. Seated next to Sadat, Mubarak escaped with a minor hand injury as gunmen sprayed the reviewing stand with bullets. Eight days later, the brawny former air force commander was sworn in as president, promising continuity and order.
Mubarak’s rule was marked by a close alliance with the US in the fight against Islamic militancy and assisting regional peace efforts. Many older Egyptians, who had long considered him invincible, were stunned by the images of Mubarak on a gurney bed being taken to court for sessions of his trial in Cairo following his ouster.
Mubarak’s overthrow plunged Egypt into years of chaos and uncertainty, and set up a power struggle between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood group that he had long outlawed. Some two and a half years after Mubarak’s ouster, El-Sisi led the military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mursi, and rolled back freedoms gained in the 2011 uprising.
In June 2012, Mubarak and his security chief were sentenced to life in prison for failing to prevent the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising. Both appealed the verdict and a higher court later cleared them in 2014.
The following year, Mubarak and his sons were sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges during a retrial. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while Mubarak walked free in 2017.