Yemeni govt welcomes US decision to designate Houthis as terrorist organization

Yemeni govt welcomes US decision to designate Houthis as terrorist organization
The Yemeni government welcomed the decision by the US to classify the Houthis as a foreign terrorist group. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 January 2021

Yemeni govt welcomes US decision to designate Houthis as terrorist organization

Yemeni govt welcomes US decision to designate Houthis as terrorist organization
  • The Yemeni government held the Houthis responsible for the attack on Aden Airport on Dec. 30 last year

DUBAI: The Yemeni government welcomed on Monday the decision by the United States government to classify the Houthi militia as a foreign terrorist organization.
The US State Department announced late Sunday that Washington plans to designate the Iran-backed Houthi militia a terrorist organization and to include three of its leaders — Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim — on the global terrorists list, in response to demands of millions of Yemenis who launched popular campaigns.
The Ministry of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs said in a statement to the Yemeni News Agency Saba, that after six years of war and the imposition of numerous sanctions against individuals, the government believed that efforts to intensify all political and legal pressures on the Houthis should continue in order to create reach a political solution to the conflict.
“The Houthis deserve to be classified as a foreign terrorist organization not only for their terrorist acts, but also for their permanent efforts to prolong the conflict and cause the worst humanitarian disaster in the world,” the ministry said.
The ministry stated that the Houthis continue to commit “gross violations” of human rights and international humanitarian law, including the bombing of homes and places of worship, the persecution of religious minorities, the arrest and torture of journalists and political activists, the siege of cities, and the planting of mines on land and the sea.
The Houthis “major dependence on Iran's subversive agendas in the region” undermines the political process in Yemen, the ministry claimed.
Iran’s ideological, financial, military and technical support for the Houthis allowed the militia to engage in reckless terrorist acts, the ministry said.
The Yemeni government held the Houthis responsible for the attack on Aden Airport on Dec. 30 last year, that killed and wounded dozens.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s information minister said the designation “will have significant impact on reducing the crimes” committed by the Houthis, for which civilians pay the price.
The move will also stop the militia’s “terrorist activities that target regional security and international interests, and limit arms smuggling operations and access to Iranian experts,” Muammar Al-Eryani said in a tweet.
Al-Eryani added that the move would also force the Houthis to submit to peace and put an end to the suffering of millions of Yemenis in their areas of control.
“This step puts the Houthi militia in its natural place alongside other terrorist organizations, after it undermined security and stability in Yemen and the region and led to the largest humanitarian tragedy in human history,” he said.
Al-Eryani thanked the Yemeni people who campaigned in various governorates and through social media and “continued their message to the world in the face of Houthi terrorism, which has escalated since the arrival of Quds Force officer Hassan Erlo, and reached its climax with the targeting of Aden International Airport.”
The Quds Force, the foreign arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, appointed Erlo as a military ruler of Sanaa, which is under Houthi control. On Dec. 9, the US imposed terrorism related sanctions on Erlo, saying he was the source of Iran’s interference in the region.
Twenty six people were killed and several others injured in the airport attack, moments after a newly formed cabinet for government-held parts of Yemen arrived on the same flight.


Blinken says US to help foster Israel's ties with Arab states

Blinken says US to help foster Israel's ties with Arab states
Updated 13 sec ago

Blinken says US to help foster Israel's ties with Arab states

Blinken says US to help foster Israel's ties with Arab states

WASHINGTON: The United States will help foster Israel's growing ties with Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates as well as Sudan and Kosovo while encouraging other countries to normalise ties with Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
Speaking at an event marking the first anniversary of Abraham Accords, US-brokered agreements which have ushered in public rapprochements between Israel and several Arab states, Blinken also said Washington would work to deepen Israel's long-standing relationship with Egypt and Jordan.


US issues fresh sanctions on several individuals it says linked to Hezbollah

US issues fresh sanctions on several individuals it says linked to Hezbollah
Updated 6 min 34 sec ago

US issues fresh sanctions on several individuals it says linked to Hezbollah

US issues fresh sanctions on several individuals it says linked to Hezbollah

WASHINGTON: The United States sanctioned four individuals it said had ties to the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, according to a post on the US Treasury website on Friday. 


Iran joins expanding Asian security body led by Moscow, Beijing

Iran joins expanding Asian security body led by Moscow, Beijing
Updated 37 min 45 sec ago

Iran joins expanding Asian security body led by Moscow, Beijing

Iran joins expanding Asian security body led by Moscow, Beijing
  • Raisi hailed the opportunity that membership would provide for Iran to join important trade links across Eurasia

Iran joined a rapidly expanding central Asian security body led by Russia and China on Friday, calling on the countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to help it form a mechanism to avert sanctions imposed by the West.
The body, formed in the 2001 as a talking shop for Russia, China and ex-Soviet states in Central Asia, expanded four years ago to include India and Pakistan, with a view to playing a bigger role as counterweight to Western influence in the region.
In a sign of its growing influence, the body’s summit in Tajikistan was the first appearance abroad of Iran’s new hard-line president, Ebrahimi Raisi, since taking office in August.
Raisi hailed the opportunity that membership would provide for Iran, as a country along China’s “Belt and Road” route, to join important trade links across Eurasia. Iranian television described Iran’s membership as giving it access to huge markets across the continent.
In his speech to members, Raisi compared sanctions on Iran to terrorism, and said the organization should design a mechanism that helps Tehran avert them.
Russia and China, along with Western countries, are parties of a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers under which Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Washington abandoned that deal in 2018 and unilaterally reimposed financial sanctions. Negotiations this year to revive it have been stalled since Raisi’s election.
“Nothing can stop Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities that are within the framework of international regulations,” Raisi said. “Diplomacy is only effective when all parties adhere to it. Threats and pressure tie diplomacy’s hands and render it ineffective.”


New Lebanon cabinet lifts petrol price, signs audit deal

New Lebanon cabinet lifts petrol price, signs audit deal
Updated 17 September 2021

New Lebanon cabinet lifts petrol price, signs audit deal

New Lebanon cabinet lifts petrol price, signs audit deal
  • The audit is a key requirement for Lebanon to secure foreign aid

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s new government raised gasoline prices on Friday, cutting a subsidy that Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said is unaffordable as he advances plans to address a devastating financial collapse.
The government also signed a new contract with restructuring consultancy Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) to carry out a forensic audit of the central bank, a step sought by donors who want to see Beirut enact reforms to unlock badly needed aid.
The Mikati government, which took office a week ago, has promised action to address the crisis, including talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a start to reforms.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday there had been courtesy calls with members of the new government and the Fund stood ready to engage in the period ahead. Talks between the previous government and the IMF broke down last year.
The World Bank says Lebanon’s economic collapse is one of the worst on record.
The currency has slumped more than 90 percent since 2019, more than three quarters of the population have been driven into poverty, the banking system is paralyzed and a hard currency crunch has led to shortages of vital imports, including fuel.
Lebanon has been suppressing fuel prices by providing dollars at subsidised exchange rates well below the pound’s price on the parallel market, with the stated aim of shielding people hit by the collapse.
Critics say the system has given rise to smuggling and hoarding, contributing to shortages that have crippled normal life and spawned a black market where gasoline has been sold at enormously inflated prices.
Fuel prices issued on Friday raised the gasoline price by more than 37 percent with immediate effect.
“This is the stage before last of lifting the subsidy,” said Georges Braks, a member of the Petrol Station Owners’ syndicate, who expects the subsidy to be removed by the end of September.
He said the new prices were based on an exchange rate around 12,000 pounds per dollar.
This compares with a rate of 8,000 pounds per dollar that the previous government agreed for fuel prices last month, but is still below the rate on the parallel market, where dollars were changing hands at 14,600 on Friday.
The central bank said last month it could no longer afford to provide dollars for fuel at heavily subsidised rates.
The move means importers will still be sourcing dollars from the central bank rather than the market and so a subsidy still applies, said Mike Azar, a senior Beirut-based financial adviser.
The pound has strengthened from around 19,000 per dollar since Mikati took office, ending a year of political conflict over cabinet seats that left Lebanon rudderless.
The IMF has recommended Lebanon unify the multiple exchange rates along with other steps including the central bank audit.
Finance Minister Youssef Khalil, formerly a senior central bank official, signed the contract with A&M, which the ministry said would present an initial report within 12 weeks of its team starting work.
A&M withdrew from the audit last November, saying it had not received the information it required. The finance ministry said in April the central bank had agreed to hand over required documents.
Parliament then agreed in December to lift banking secrecy for one year, amid much back-and-forth between Lebanese officials including the finance ministry and the central bank over whether certain information could be disclosed.
Lebanon’s talks with the IMF last year broke down largely due to a dispute over the scale of losses in the financial system. A plan drawn up by the previous government said these amounted to some $90 billion, a figure endorsed by the IMF but rejected by Lebanese banks and the political elite.


Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials
Updated 17 September 2021

Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

LONDON: Police in Yemen's province of Marib arrested a group of Houthi militia planning to bomb public places with the aim to assassinate government military officials, state news agency Saba reported on Thursday.
The commander of Special Forces in Marib Brig. Gen. Saleem Al-Sayyaghi told Saba that a cache of explosives and maps of bomb sites were seized in possession of the Houthi members.
Initial investigations, he said, revealed that those arrested “steered by the Iran-backed Houthi militia” and were tasked with bombing civilian crowds and military leaders.

Sayyaghi claimed that the plot comes as the militia failed to take Marib in the battlefield despite sending fighters towards the army positions over the past months.