AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni model who was abducted and imprisoned by the Houthis said the militia sought to recruit her as a spy in exchange for her freedom, according to people who visited her in jail on Monday.
Entesar Al-Hammadi and two colleagues were abducted by Houthis in Sanaa on Feb. 20. They spent 10 days in the Sanaa Criminal Investigation Department before being transferred to the central prison.
One of those who visited Al-Hammadi told Arab News, on condition of anonymity, that the Houthis sought to recruit the model and the two other women by proposing they take part in cloak-and-dagger operations and install listening devices inside opponents’ houses in return for their swift release.
The Houthis threw her in prison when she refused. They also banned her lawyer and relatives from visiting her while also resisting local and international pressure to free her, she told the visitors.
Monday’s group comprised activists, politicians, lawyers, journalists and members of the Houthi-run Shoura Council and parliament.
Al-Hammadi told them the Houthis had framed her on charges of drug possession and prostitution to keep her in prison, according to a Facebook post from one of her visitors, Abdul Wahab Qatran, who is a judge.
A local prosecutor who questioned her found no basis for the accusations and ordered her release.
The Houthis blindfolded the model, took her fingerprints on an unidentified file and briefly put her into a brothel, Qatran wrote.
Her prison visitors said they would keep pressuring the rebels until they released the three women.
Angered by the intense media coverage of the case, the Houthis banned news outlets in their areas from reporting on it and banned her lawyer from speaking to international media outlets. They dismissed the prosecutor who ordered her release.
Earlier this month, Amnesty International said the Houthis were planning to subject the model to forced virginity tests and that she had been physically and verbally abused by her captors.
Yemenis have expressed dismay over the Houthis’ treatment of the abducted women.
“If the Persian Houthi militia belonged to Yemeni territory, they would not treat the free Yemeni women this way,” Abdul Wahab Tawaf, a former ambassador, tweeted. “Our solidarity is with Entesar Al-Hammadi and any other Yemeni woman who encountered this criminal group.”
Death toll of Sudan anti-coup protesters rises to 7
Some corpses showed wounds caused by ‘sharp tools’
Updated 5 sec ago
KHARTOUM: Seven protesters have been killed in Sudan since a military coup four days ago, a health official said Thursday, adding that other bodies had since arrived without giving an exact number.
Four protesters were already reported killed on Monday, hours after the military coup was announced.
“On Monday, morgues in Khartoum and Omdurman received the bodies of seven civilians,” Hisham Fagiri, head of the health ministry’s forensic authority, said. Some corpses showed wounds caused by “sharp tools,” he added.
Lebanon’s Beirut blast probe judge suspends hearing for former PM Diab – legal source
Prime Minister Hassan filed a suit over his prosecution on Wednesday
Updated 32 min ago
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Beirut blast probe judge Tarek Bitar suspended on Thursday the interrogation of for former Prime Minister Hassan Diab after Diab filed a suit, a legal source said.
The suit was filed by Diab over his prosecution by Bitar on Wednesday. Diab, who has been charged over the Aug. 4, 2020 blast that killed over 215 people, had already missed at least two interrogation sessions.
Bitar was officially notified of the legal suit arguing that he did not have the authority to interrogate the former prime minister which automatically forces him to suspend the session, the legal source said.
“The suspension of questioning relates only to Diab in this case,” the source told Reuters.
Judge Bitar has sought to question top politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him with some raising legal complaints against him questioning his impartiality.
Bitar has in the past issued arrest warrants for ministers who failed to show up for interrogation, and Diab’s lawsuit was likely an 11th-hour attempt to prevent a similar scenario after his interrogation scheduled for Thursday.
Moroccans protest mass vaccination rules; some skirmishes
Decision came into effect Oct. 21 and stipulates that Moroccans must provide proof of vaccination to enter workplaces
The pass is also required to access indoor services such as restaurants, banks and travel
Updated 27 October 2021
RABAT, Morocco: Demonstrators took to the streets in cities around Morocco on Wednesday, some clashing with police as they denounced the country’s decision to require coronavirus vaccination passes to be allowed to work and enter public venues.
The decision came into effect Oct. 21 and stipulates that Moroccans must provide proof of vaccination in order to enter their workplaces. In a statement, the government has said employers have “direct legal responsibility” to enforce the decision.
The pass is also required to access indoor services such as restaurants and banks as well as domestic and international travel.
The North African kingdom of 36 million people has Africa’s highest vaccination rate, with more than 50 percent of the population fully inoculated. Earlier this month, the government also started administering booster shots.
But the abrupt and unusually widespread vaccine requirements have also prompted opposition, and led to big crowds at vaccination centers as people rushed to get shots.
In the capital, Rabat, protesters gathered outside the parliament building and chanted slogans against the rule, arguing that it goes against fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Police formed a line to prevent the angry demonstrators from getting inside the legislature.
A few protesters clashed with police as they were pushed away down Mohammed V Avenue that leads to the parliament building.
Among protesters was Nabila Mounib, a member of parliament and the secretary general of the opposition Unified Socialist Party. She joined the protest after being barred from entering the parliament building for showing up without a vaccination pass.
Similar scenes unfolded in other Moroccan cities, with dozens of protesters taking to the streets in the country’s most populous city, Casablanca, as well as tourist hotspots of Marrakech and Agadir. They shouted “United against the pass!” as police pushed and swung batons at some of the demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them.
Lebanese PM distances self from minister’s Houthi Yemen ‘self-defense’ claim
The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council said in a statement he rejected Kordahi’s comments
Najib Mikati said George Kordahi’s comments on TV did not reflect government’s, president’s position on Yemen
Updated 28 October 2021
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday distanced himself from comments made by the country’s Information Minister George Kordahi suggesting that the Iran-backed Houthis were “defending themselves” in Yemen.
Kordahi had been responding to a question from the host of “Barlamanasha3b,” an Al Jazeera-affiliated youth TV show, asking about his position on the conflict in the war-torn country.
During the interview recorded on Aug. 5, one month before being appointed information minister, Kordahi said: “The Houthis in Yemen are a resistance movement, defending themselves and not attacking anyone.” He added that the group was acting in self-defense against the “Saudi-UAE attack on Yemen.”
Mikati said: “Kordahi’s statement reflects his personal opinion which we do not accept. These comments do not express the government nor the president’s (Michel Aoun) position on the Yemeni issue. Lebanon is committed to its ties with Arab countries.”
When Kordahi’s remarks later surfaced in a video posted online, they sparked a frenzy on social media and an official protest to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Yemen’s Ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Al-Deais.
Kordahi replied by saying he had not intended “in any way, to offend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the Emirates,” and expressed his “love and loyalty to the leaders and people of the two countries.”
He added: “What I said about the war in Yemen being an absurd war that needs to stop, I said it with conviction, not in defense of Yemen, but also out of love for Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
But Al-Deais said Kordahi had only “added insult to injury, as he did not apologize, but rather confirmed what he had said.”
The Yemeni envoy added: “Kordahi’s remarks go against Lebanon’s clear position toward Yemen and its condemnation of the Houthi coup and its support for all relevant Arab and UN resolutions.”
Following a meeting with Aoun on Wednesday, Mikati added: “It is true that we distance ourselves from conflicts, but we do not distance ourselves from any Arab position in solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
This position is a constant position, and we look forward to the best relations.
“Kordahi’s comments will not affect the general course, especially since the constants of the Lebanese position on relations with Arab countries were stated in its ministerial declaration. The interview with Kordahi took place before he was appointed minister and was broadcast yesterday,” Mikati said.
Separately, Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that Kordahi’s comments reflected his “personal stand” and “do not reflect the government’s position.”
In a statement, it said: “The ministry has repeatedly condemned the terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia and maintains its position in defending the security and safety of its Gulf brothers, for whom it holds love, respect, and appreciation, and refrains from interfering in their internal and external policies.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council noted that Kordahi’s remarks showed his limited knowledge and lack of understanding of the situation in Yemen.
GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf condemned, “the Lebanese minister of information’s defense of the Houthi coup group, while ignoring the intransigence of the Houthi movement against all international efforts to end the Yemeni crisis, and at a time when the Saudi Houthi group is targeting missiles and marches, targeting the defenseless Yemeni people, and preventing relief aid from reaching the stricken areas.”
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari on Wednesday met with Al-Deais.
In a statement issued by the Saudi embassy, Al-Bukhari reaffirmed “the Kingdom’s position on supporting legitimacy in Yemen, reaching a political solution, in accordance with the terms of reference represented by the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism, the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference and the resolution 2216, in order to preserve Yemen’s unity, integrity, respect its sovereignty and independence, and reject any interference in its internal affairs.
“The Iranian-backed Houthis continue hostilities and terrorist operations by firing ballistic missiles and booby-trapped drones to target civilians and civilian objects in Saudi Arabia, violating international and humanitarian law by using civilian populations in Yemeni civilian areas as human shields, and launching booby-trapped boats and remotely marching, posing a serious threat to regional and international security,” he said.
The Saudi envoy highlighted, “the legitimate right of the Saudi-led coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, to take and implement the necessary measures to deal with these hostilities and terrorist attacks, and to prevent the smuggling of weapons into these militias that poses a threat to the freedom of maritime navigation and global trade in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Red Sea.”
Al-Bukhari praised “the efficiency” of Saudi air defenses in intercepting and responding to more than 400 ballistic missiles, 791 drones, and at least 205 naval mines.
Supporters prevent Lebanese Forces leader Geagea from attending hearing
Updated 28 October 2021
BEIRUT: Supporters of the Christian Lebanese Forces party on Wednesday blocked roads to leader Samir Geagea’s residence as he failed to turn up for a hearing at army intelligence over fatal clashes in Beirut.
Geagea was summoned to the hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, amid claims by the Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement that Lebanese Forces (LF) supporters shot dead seven of their followers in clashes on Oct. 14.
Geagea has denied the claims and said he is being unfairly targetted for his support of a probe by Judge Tarek Bitar into the August 2020 Beirut port explosion that Hezbollah opposes.
“We won’t let anyone, not Hezbollah nor Iran nor Syria or anyone try to subjugate us,” LF protester Fadi told Reuters.
“We are here today in 2021 sacrificing for Samir Geagea just like he sacrified for us in 1994 so Lebanon could remain and we could remain,” Fadi, who did not give his last name, said.
Geagea, a former warlord, was imprisoned after Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war and released in 2005 following the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after three decades of occupation.