Yemen president dismisses army commander after battlefield setbacks

Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, President of Yemen. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 29 January 2020

Yemen president dismisses army commander after battlefield setbacks

  • Dozens of Houthis and loyalist forces, including commanders, have been killed since the Marib attack

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has dismissed an army general following a series of military setbacks in Nehim district, near Houthi-held Sanaa.
The official Saba News agency reported on Monday that Hadi had appointed Maj. Gen. Ahmad Hassan Jebran as the commander of the 7th Military Region, replacing Maj. Gen. Mohsen Al-Khubi.
Al-Khubi has been commanding government forces in Nehim and neighboring battlefields since August 2018. The Nehim battlefield has endured a military stalemate as government forces could not make major gains.
The dismissal comes amid reports that the Iranian-backed Houthis have seized control of Fardhat Nehim military base, a large swathe of the mountainous district and a strategic road that links Marib city with the northern province of Jawf.
The rebels expanded in Nehim following heavy clashes with government forces, backed by air support from Saudi-led coalition warplanes.
Last week, Yemen’s minister of defense said that army troops carried out a “tactical retreat” in Nehim to allow forces to regroup before pushing back into the battlefield. Fighting in Nehim escalated on Jan. 19, a day after a Houthi missile and drone attack killed more than 110 soldiers and civilians at a military base mosque in the city of Marib.
The attack prompted senior government officials to threaten to pull out of the Stockholm Agreement, which largely ended hostilities in the western province of Hodeida. Dozens of Houthis and loyalist forces, including commanders, have been killed since the Marib attack.

HIGHLIGHT

The dismissal comes amid reports that the Houthis have seized control of Fardhat Nehim military base.

Saba reported on Monday that Hadi telephoned the minister of defense and the governors of Marib, Jawf and Sana’a, hailing “victories” on the battlefields and ordering his forces to escalate military activities until they purged the Houthis from areas under their control.
Fighting also continued in Abyan’s Lawder district when the Houthis attacked government forces.
Similar clashes were also reported in Jawf, Marib’s Serwah and Taiz. UN envoy to Yemen urges recommitment to Stockholm Agreement
The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has urged the Houthis and the internationally recognized government to adhere to the Stockholm Agreement and to stop hostilities on the battlefields as the Yemeni government reiterated threats to pull out of the deal.
“The parties in Yemen must de-escalate violence and renew their commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Yemeni people deserve better than a life of perpetual war,” he said on Tuesday, urging both sides to commit to keeping Hodeida safe and releasing detainees.
“More than a year ago in Stockholm, the parties promised the Yemeni people to keep Hodeida safe, to use port revenues to pay salaries and to return detainees to their loved ones. They must fulfill these promises and build a conducive environment for the peace process,” he added.
Yemeni government officials argue that the Houthis exploited a cessation of fighting in Hodeida to strengthen their forces in Nehim and Taiz.


Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

An Iranian army soldier walks through a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 58 min 22 sec ago

Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

  • Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible”

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani has warned that “the new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640.
Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China.
Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.
At his daily news briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 123 more people in Iran had died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
He reported 2,901 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the overall number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309.
According to the official, 12,391 of those hospitalized have recovered and 3,467 are in “critical” condition.
“We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, which has not yet happened to date,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting.
“The new way of life we have adopted” is to everyone’s benefit, he said, adding that “these changes will likely have to stay in place for some time.”
After weeks of refraining from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible.” Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country.
After Rouhani’s warning, the reopening of schools following this year’s new year holidays of March 19 to April 3 appears unlikely.

FASTFACT

Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January

On a positive note, Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that “in some provinces we have passed the peak (of the epidemic) and are on a downward trajectory.”
Several Iranian government officials and notable figures have been infected by the new coronavirus, some of whom have died.
The most recent case of infection was Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of former president Mohammad Khatami and an ex-deputy speaker of parliament.
He is currently hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, a deputy health minister who tested positive for the virus in late February, has returned to public life and appeared on state television to emphasize safety precautions.