Boat carrying 1,000 kg of drugs seized by Yemeni Coast Guard

Boat carrying 1,000 kg of drugs seized by Yemeni Coast Guard
This file photo shows Yemeni coast guards. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Boat carrying 1,000 kg of drugs seized by Yemeni Coast Guard

Boat carrying 1,000 kg of drugs seized by Yemeni Coast Guard
  • The seized drugs are worth $6,600,000, and investigators are currently questioning the sailors to determine where the drugs came from and their final destination

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni Coast Guard in the eastern province of Mahra on Friday intercepted a boat carrying almost 1,000 kilograms of drugs and arrested six Iranian and Pakistani sailors.

The government-run Mahra Media Centre said that local coastguards, backed by Arab coalition forces in the province, seized the boat off the coast of Mahra, arresting six sailors on board.

In the province’s Nishtoun port, where the seized boat was forced to dock, security forces found 730 kilograms of cannabis resin and 216 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, tightly bound in plastic bags.

The seized drugs are worth $6,600,000, and investigators are currently questioning the sailors to determine where the drugs came from and their final destination.

The center quoted Ahmed Ali Rafet, a local security officer, as saying that security forces in the province have been put on heightened alert to foil any other attempt to smuggle drugs into Yemen through the province’s coast, urging locals to alert them about similar shipments of drugs or arms.

The latest announcement about the seized drugs comes as the Arab coalition works to revive the Yemeni coastal authority, which had crumbled when the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and later expanded militarily across Yemen six years ago.

The coalition has trained and armed hundreds of guards and provided them with fast boats. The forces have been deployed along the country’s long coastline. 

Yemeni military and security officials say that the Houthis receive their smuggled shipments of arms through many coastal points on the Red Sea and the Arab Sea, including some informal ports in the province of Mahra.

In September, members of a detained arms ring that had smuggled Iranian weapons to the Houthis for years confessed that they had disguised themselves as fishermen in Mahra, where they transported many shipments of arms from Iran to the Houthis through different locations in the province.

Dozens of Houthis and government forces have been killed in the continuing fighting in the provinces of Marib, Jouf and Sanaa since Thursday, local army commanders and media reports said. 

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that at least three dozen Houthis had been killed in heavy fighting in the mountainous Nehim district, in the province of Sanaa.

State media broadcast footage showing what appeared to be government forces trading heavy machine guns with the Houthis as smoke billowed from the battlefield.

Warplanes from the Arab coalition reportedly supported government troops by hitting Houthi gatherings and military equipment.

The ministry said the Houthis lost several armored vehicles and heavy military equipment in the fighting in Nehim.

In the neighboring Marib province, the commander of the 7th Military Region has vowed to keep fighting until the Houthis are defeated, denying media reports that the Houthis had recaptured a military base in the province.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Hassan Jibran said that the Houthis suffered major defeats on the battlefield in Marib, adding that the strategic Mas military base was still under the control of government forces.

Last week, Houthi media outlets said their forces seized control of the Mas military base, northwest of Marib, publishing images of their fighters chanting their slogans inside a military base.

Gen. Jibran said the Houthis fabricated the images to “compensate” for their losses on the battlefields. State media did not elaborate on the deaths of government forces during the fighting.

For several months, the Houthis have been relentlessly attacking army troops and allied tribesmen in Marib in an attempt to break defense lines before invading major oil and gas facilities in the province.

The current bloody conflict in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Houthis seized control of the capital, Sanaa, forcing Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into decamping to Aden and later fleeing the country after Houthi militias bombed the presidential palace in the city.

A massive aerial bombardment by the Arab coalition shored up government forces, enabling them to reverse Houthi gains across the country.


Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Updated 05 December 2020

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic
  • More than 567,000 voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote
  • Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is holding parliamentary elections Saturday under the shadow of Covid-19, with facilities laid on for citizens infected with the disease to vote in special polling stations.
The oil-rich country has enforced some of the strictest regulations in the Gulf to combat the spread of the coronavirus, imposing a months-long nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
But while some curbs have eased, over-the-top election events that traditionally draw thousands for lavish banquets are out, masks remain mandatory and temperature checks are routine when venturing outdoors.
Infected people or those under mandatory quarantine are usually confined to home, with electronic wristbands monitoring their movements.
But in an effort to include all constituents, authorities have designated five schools — one in each electoral district — where they can vote, among the 102 polling stations across the country.
Election officials are expected to be in full personal protective equipment.
Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms that enjoys wide legislative powers.
Political disputes are often fought out in the open.
Parties are neither banned nor recognized, but many groups — including Islamists — operate freely as de facto parties.
But with more than 143,917 coronavirus cases to date, including 886 deaths, the election campaign has been toned down this year.

A worker cleans desks at a polling station ahead of parliamentary elections in Abdullah Salem, Kuwait, on December 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee)

The polls, which open at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT), will be the first since the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, took office in September following the death of his half-brother, 91-year-old Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
But with the opposition weakened in recent years, no major political shifts are expected.
A few electoral banners dotted through the streets have been the only reminder of the nation’s political calendar.
Instead, this year’s campaign has mainly been fought on social networks and in the media.
More than 567,000 Kuwaiti voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote, including 29 women.
Ahmad Deyain, secretary general of the opposition group Kuwaiti Progressive Movement, said he expected a lower voter turnout than previous years after the dulled-down campaign.
The usual themes are a constant though, from promises to fight corruption and plans to address youth employment, to freedom of expression, housing, education and the thorny issue of the “bidoon,” Kuwait’s stateless minority.
From 2009 to 2013, and especially after the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, the country went through a period of political turmoil, with parliament and cabinets dissolved several times after disputes between lawmakers and the ruling family-led government.
“Kuwait is still undergoing a political crisis since 2011, and that page has not yet turned,” Deyain told AFP.
“There are still disputes over the electoral system and mismanagement of state funds.
Deyain said he expected some parliamentarians in the new National Assembly to be “more dynamic” in trying to resolve some issues.
Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab state to adopt a parliamentary system in 1962, and women in 2005 won the right to vote and to stand for election.