Yemen court begins trial of Houthi leaders

Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi group wave up their weapons as they shout slogans during a gathering of Houthi loyalists on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen July 8, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 July 2020

Yemen court begins trial of Houthi leaders

  • Local security and military officers believe that Houthi sleeper cells were involved in directing drone

AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni military court in the government-controlled city of Marib held the initial session of the trial of Iran-backed Houthi leaders on Tuesday, accused of masterminding the coup against the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2015 and the subsequent military campaign.

The defendants faced charges of forming a terrorist armed group called Ansar Allah, colluding with the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), revolting against the republican system, putting Masur Hadi under house arrest and trying to kill him.

Along with the movement’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, among the 175 accused figures were Mohammed Al-Houthi, a member of the country’s Supreme Political Council, Abdullah Yahiya Al-Hakim, a senior military commander, the Houthi ambassador to Iran, Ibrahim Mohammed Al-Daylami, and dozens of ministers, intelligence, military and political officials.

According to the official Saba news agency, the prosecution demanded the maximum available punishments for the defendants, including the death penalty.

By the end of the session, the court decided to publish the names of the accused figures in local newspapers and demanded that they appear the same court on Sept. 25, or face prosecution in absentia.

With the help of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Houthi militias seized control of the capital Sana’a in September 2014, and placed Mansur Hadi under house arrest, dismissing his government and replacing it with their allied Revolutionary Committees. The Houthis killed Saleh in late 2017 after leading a brief military uprising in Sana’a.

Dismantled Houthi cell

Also in Marib, Yemen’s defense and interior ministries said on Tuesday that the Houthi cell that was dismantled in Marib’s Wadi Abeda area late last month was responsible for masterminding many attacks against government, military and security targets in Marib.

In a joint statement, the two ministries said the cell, led by Mohsen Saleh Subayan, planned and carried out attacks against local security forces and Saudi-led coalition troops in Marib, planted landmines and improvised explosive devices, assassinated military and security officers and smuggled weapons. The statement noted that Subayan, along with several of his associates, were killed when they resisted security forces that came to capture them, and that drones, weapons and munitions were found in the area. 

Local security and military officers believe that Houthi sleeper cells were involved in directing drone and missile strikes that targeted military camps in Marib since late 2015. The deadliest Houthi attack was in January 2020, when a drone and missiles fired by the Houthis landed at a camp, killing more than 110 soldiers, triggering heavy clashes between government forces and the Houthis, which disrupted diplomatic efforts to reach a peace deal led by the UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths.

Official media reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed called the governor of Marib, Sultan Al-Arada, to congratulate him on dismantling the cell and foiling plots to undermine security and stability. Marib has hosted thousands of Yemeni army troops and coalition forces since the beginning of the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen in March 2015.


Streets before suits: US envoy vists Beirut’s ‘real’ rescue hub

Updated 15 min 44 sec ago

Streets before suits: US envoy vists Beirut’s ‘real’ rescue hub

  • Hale’s visit to the volunteer hub in the Gemmayzeh district came days after Macron took a tour of the same street last week
  • Students and young professionals have ditched classes and day jobs to save lives and provide emergency support

BEIRUT: Arriving in Lebanon after last week’s deadly Beirut blast, US envoy David Hale bypassed politicians to head straight to a hard-hit neighborhood where young volunteers are helping people abandoned by their state.
At the volunteer hub dubbed the “Base Camp,” there is a “focus on getting things done,” Hale told a press conference after his tour.
He contrasted the hive of activity to the “dysfunctional governance and empty promises” of Lebanon’s political leaders, who face public outrage over the explosion of a vast stock of ammonium nitrate stored for years at Beirut’s port.
Volunteer efforts “could not only be tapped to rebuild Beirut but (also) to undertake necessary reforms that will bring the kind of transformation that is necessary for Lebanon,” Hale said.
In the wake of the August 4 explosion of a the huge chemical store that laid waste to whole Beirut neighborhoods, students and young professionals have ditched classes and day jobs to save lives, provide emergency support and start to rebuild.
Hale’s visit to the volunteer hub in the blast-hit Gemmayzeh district came days after French President Emmanuel Macron took a tour of the same street last Thursday, as well as meeting Lebanese leaders.
But while Macron was welcomed as a savior, it was clear that the heroes of the moment were the volunteers.
“I don’t know why (Hale) would do that second step and go to meet politicians,” said Wassim Bou Malham, 33, who leads a database management team at the Base Camp.
“The aid is happening here, the data collection is happening here, the cleaning is happening here, the reconstruction is happening here,” he told AFP.
Wearing face masks and neon vests, volunteers sounded like international experts as they explained how they were cleaning up their government’s mess.
In fluent English, they described 3D mapping operations, data collection and relief efforts organized since the cataclysmic blast.
Bou Malham, who spoke with Hale during the tour, is not a data expert but picked up useful experience managing client databases for two of Beirut’s biggest nightclubs.
After the blast tore through the city, wounding 6,500 people and displacing 300,000 from their homes, his skills became vital for the aid effort.
The digitised database developed by Bou Malham and his team of volunteers is now critical for sorting and delivering aid to thousands of blast survivors.
“We haven’t seen any government official or representative actually come in here and ask us if we need anything,” he said.
“It’s so funny that David Hale is the first.”
It is not only in the Base Camp that the state has been thin on the ground.
In the first hours after the explosion, civil defense teams were vastly outnumbered by young volunteers flooding the streets to help.
By the next day, the latter had set up a camp where they offered food, medicine, temporary shelter and repair services to thousands of blast victims, in partnership with several non-governmental groups.
Operations have continued to expand since.
A Base Camp relief hotline received more than 200 calls in the first two hours. Volunteers have assessed the damage to around 1,200 homes and installed at least 600 wooden doors.
“The work is going to speak for itself,” said Bushra, a 37-year-old volunteer.
Simmering anger against Lebanon’s leaders has flared since the blast, which appears to have been caused by years of state corruption and negligence.
With 171 people dead, it is widely seen as the most tragic manifestation yet of the rot at the core of the country’s political system.
Western donors too are fed up with Lebanon’s barons, who have for years resisted reforms demanded by the international community.
In a joint statement released after an international donor conference organized by France in the wake of the disaster, world leaders called for aid to be delivered directly to the Lebanese people.
USAID acting administrator, John Barsa, said at the time that American help “is absolutely not going to the government.”
USAID “will increase its financial support to civil society groups in Lebanon by 30 percent to $6.627 million,” Barsa said in a press briefing on Thursday.
At the volunteer camp in Gemmayzeh, it was clear that funding would be put to good use.
Ziad Al-Zein, arrives before volunteers start their shifts at 9:00 am to ensure the camp is clean and secure.
The 33-year-old was among the first groups of volunteers clearing debris in Gemmayzeh.
“We are not speacialists in crisis management or catastophe management. We are learning things as we go,” he said.
“There is no state,” he added. “We will not abandon our fellow Lebanese in these conditions.”