Fighting rages in Yemen’s Abyan province

A tank belonging to forces loyal to Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) separatists fires while on the frontline of clashes with pro-government forces for control of Zinjibar, the capital of the southern Abyan province, on its eastern outskirts in the Sheikh Salim area, on May 15, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 18 May 2020

Fighting rages in Yemen’s Abyan province

  • Internationally recognized government seeking to expel the separatist Southern Transitional Council

AL-MUKALLA: Fighting raged on Sunday for the seventh consecutive day between government forces and separatists on the outskirts of the city of Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, residents and local military commanders said.

Government troops launched an offensive on May 11 aimed at expelling the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) from southern provinces including the port city
of Aden. “Fighting has been raging since early Sunday as our forces cut a road between Jaar and Zinjibar,” a local military commander, who wished to remain anonymous, told Arab News by telephone. He said that more than 20 soldiers on both sides had been killed and dozens injured since early last week.
On Saturday Yemeni government commanders admitted that separatist forces had captured Brig. Saif Al-Qufaish, the commander of Brigade 115 in Abyan, and a number of his associates after besieging their position in Abyan’s Sheikh Salem region.
“Our forces are in their positions and what happened on Saturday happens in every war,” Maj. Gen. Sanad Al-Rahwah, the commander of the government’s 1st Presidential Protection Brigade, told official media, commenting on the capture of Al-Qufaish. “If they captured a commander, we would respond by capturing or killing one or 10 of theirs.”
Over the last couple of days, residents in Zinjibar and Shouqra have reported hearing explosions from battlefields as government forces intensified the shelling of separatists on the outskirts of Zinjibar in an attempt to make headway. Government military commanders admit that separatists have resisted their offensive
and that it could take longer to break through and reach Zinjibar and Aden.

FASTFACTS

• 20 soldiers on both sides have been killed.

• Six Houthi militants killed in Taiz.

There is mounting local and international pressure on the STC to back down and revoke its controversial self-rule declaration that triggered the violence. However, the council’s leaders are defiant and are demanding that government forces stop their offensive and surrender.
Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Iryani said that the STC self-rule declaration in Aden had hampered the government’s efforts to pay public servants and fight the spread of coronavirus.
At least six Houthis were killed on Saturday in clashes with government troops in the southern city of Taiz.
Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesperson in Taiz, said that Houthis shelled the densely populated city with canons, tanks and heavy machine guns before attacking government troops on the western edges of the city. Two government troops were killed and three injured in the clashes that ended on Saturday afternoon when loyalists repelled the Houthi attack.

COVID-19 cases
Local health authorities in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Sunday reported four new coronavirus cases in the coastal areas of the province, including two deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in government-controlled areas to 126. Health authorities also recorded three recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered cases to four.


Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

  • Nassif Hitti submits resignation to the prime minister and leaves government house without making any comments
  • Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Hassan Diab’s government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned on Monday, becoming the first Cabinet minister to defect from his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis striking the country.
Minister Nassif Hitti’s submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.
A career diplomat, Hitti became foreign minister in January as part of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. He was was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said he also was angered by Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab had said Le Drian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Diab’s government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid an unprecedented financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.