Yemen government troops make new advances in Jouf province

Yemen government troops make new advances in Jouf province
Yemeni army troops and allied tribesmen on Sunday seized control of new areas in the northern province of Jouf. (AFP/File)
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Updated 04 October 2021

Yemen government troops make new advances in Jouf province

Yemen government troops make new advances in Jouf province
  • Houthis abandon weapons after mountain, desert areas liberated in offensive

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni army troops and allied tribesmen on Sunday seized control of new areas in the northern province of Jouf after heavy clashes with the Iran-backed Houthis, Yemen’s army spokesman told Arab News.

Brig. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili said that government troops, backed by air cover from the Arab coalition warplanes, liberated a number of locations, mountains and desert areas after a new offensive by the Houthis east of Jouf that began on Saturday.

“The national army has taken control of a large swath of land in Al-Jadafer, east of Al-Hazem, and inflicted heavy blows to the Houthis,” Majili said, adding that the Arab coalition warplanes carried out several air raids in support of government troops on the ground.

State media broadcast a video showing the government’s armed vehicles attacking Houthi locations in a desert area in Jouf and later retrieving weapons abandoned by the Houthis.

The Yemeni army has been advancing in the province for months with the aim of seizing control of strategic locations, including the Labenat military base, which fell to the Houthis last year.

Yemeni army officers said that Sunday’s gains would help the army cut off supply lines to the Houthis east of Hazem.

In the neighboring Marib province, local officials and residents told Arab News that a woman and two children were killed and 28 others wounded in Marib when a missile fired by the Houthis hit a residential area housing displaced people.

On Sunday, one of three missiles that hit Marib exploded in Al-Rawada district, destroying a house. 

Meanwhile, dozens of Houthis and government troops were killed in heavy clashes south and west of Marib province as the army pushed back Houthi attacks, Majili said.

The intense fighting on the ground is happening as coalition warplanes carry out dozens of airstrikes targeting Houthi military vehicles and key locations in Marib province.

Fighting in Aden’s Crater district subsided on Sunday after military forces loyal to the separatist Southern Transitional Council seized full control of the district following two nights of bloody clashes with a rival group.

Residents told Arab News on Sunday that security forces opened roads and set up checkpoints at the district’s entrances as businesses opened and people returned to the streets.

“The situation is calm now,” a resident who requested anonymity said.

Fighting broke out on Friday night between STC forces and a rival group commanded by Brig. Imam Al-Noubi, claiming the lives of at least five people, including a journalist, a local security official told Arab News on Sunday.

Images and videos circulating on social media show masked armed men, hiding in Crater’s narrow streets, exchanging gun and rocket fire with STC security forces.

Aden’s Security Committee earlier urged local residents to stay indoors as armed vehicles entered the district to restore peace and order.

Under the Riyadh Agreement designed to defuse tension in Aden between the STC and internationally recognized government, armed groups in Aden must be disarmed, united and merged into state security and military establishments.


Sudanese barricade streets, staging rallies in protest against coup

Sudanese barricade streets, staging rallies in protest against coup
Updated 13 sec ago

Sudanese barricade streets, staging rallies in protest against coup

Sudanese barricade streets, staging rallies in protest against coup
  • EU foreign affairs chief says repeated calls for authorities to refrain from violence against protesters ‘have fallen on deaf ears’

KHARTOUM: Sudanese shuttered shops and barricaded streets with burning tires and rocks on Tuesday, staging angry rallies to protest against one of the bloodiest days since a coup derailed the country’s democratic transition.

Security forces on Monday opened fire killing at least seven people as thousands marched against the army’s Oct. 25 takeover, taking the total number killed in a crackdown since the coup to 71, according to medics.

“No, no to military rule,” protesters chanted in southern Blue Nile state, where some carried banners daubed with the slogan “No to killing peaceful protesters,” said witness Omar Eissa.

The protests come as Washington ramps up pressure in a bid to broker an end to the months-long crisis in the northeast African nation, with top US diplomats expected to arrive in the capital Khartoum for talks.

Sudan’s main civilian bloc, the Forces for Freedom and Change, called for two days of civil disobedience to begin on Tuesday.

“Shop closed for mourning,” said a series of small signs posted on the closed outlets at the sprawling Sajane construction supplies market in Khartoum. One of the merchants, Othman El-Sherif, was among those shot dead on Monday.

Protesters — sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands — have regularly taken to the streets since the coup led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan nearly three months ago.

The military power grab derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule following the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar Bashir, with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigning earlier this month warning Sudan was at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival.”

After Monday’s deaths, the UN special representative Volker Perthes condemned the use of live ammunition, while the US Embassy criticized “violent tactics of Sudanese security forces,” the latest such appeals by world powers, which have not curbed a rising death toll. On Tuesday, police fired tear gas at dozens of protesters setting up roadblocks in east Khartoum.

In several other parts of Khartoum, many pharmacies and other shops were shuttered.

Sudan’s University for Science and Technology suspended all activities as part of civil disobedience, according to an official statement.

Outside the capital, hundreds of protesters also staged demonstrations in other cities, witnesses said.

“We took to the streets to protest the massacre that the security forces committed in Khartoum yesterday,” said protester Hassan Idris, in the eastern state of Kassala.

Al-Burhan on Tuesday formed a fact-finding committee to probe Monday’s violence, with its findings to be submitted within 72 hours, Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council said in a statement.

It comes as US Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, were expected in Khartoum, where they would “reiterate our call for security forces to end violence and respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” spokesman Ned Price said.

On Monday, Sudan’s police said they used “the least force” to counter the protests, in which about 50 police personnel were also wounded.

Sudan’s authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition against demonstrators, and insist scores of security personnel have been wounded during protests. A police general was stabbed to death last week.

On Tuesday the “Friends of Sudan” — a group of Western and Arab nations calling for the restoration of the country’s transitional government, and which includes the US, EU, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UN — held talks in Saudi Arabia.

“Deep concern about yesterday’s violence,” the UN envoy Perthes said on Twitter, after attending the meeting via video link.

“International support and leverage is needed. Support for political process needs to go along with active support to stop violence.”

The EU foreign policy chief said Sudan’s military rulers have shown an unwillingness to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the country’s ongoing crisis.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that repeated calls for Sudanese authorities to refrain from violence against protesters “have fallen on deaf ears.”

Borrell said the ongoing crackdown, including violence against civilians and the detention of activists and journalists, has put Sudan on “a dangerous path away from peace and stability.” He urged the military authorities to de-escalate tensions, saying: “avoiding further loss of life is of the essence.”

The crackdown, Borrell said, also risks derailing UN efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The protest groups, which have continued to mobilize protesters against the coup, have rejected negotiations with the generals. They insist on handing over power to a fully civilian government to lead the transition.


As Shiite rivals jostle in Iraq, Sunni, Kurdish parties targeted

 As Shiite rivals jostle in Iraq, Sunni, Kurdish parties targeted
Updated 53 min 35 sec ago

As Shiite rivals jostle in Iraq, Sunni, Kurdish parties targeted

 As Shiite rivals jostle in Iraq, Sunni, Kurdish parties targeted
  • In recent days, unknown attackers have hurled grenades at Kurdish and Sunni targets including political party offices and a lawmaker’s home

BAGHDAD: As Iraq’s Shiite leaders jostle to secure a majority in the newly elected parliament, Sunni and Kurdish minorities have been caught up in a spate of warning grenade attacks, analysts say.

In recent days, unknown attackers have hurled grenades at Kurdish and Sunni targets including political party offices and a lawmaker’s home — groups that could help Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr win the critical parliamentary majority needed to make his choice of prime minister.

“It is a way of punishing the forces that have allied with Moqtada Sadr to form a parliamentary majority,” said political scientist Ihsan Al-Shammari.

“Their message is political,” he added, calling the attacks “part of the mode of political pressure” adopted by some groups.

In multi-confessional and multi-ethnic Iraq, the formation of governments has involved complex negotiations since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

No single party holds an outright majority, so the next leader will be voted in by whichever coalition can negotiate allies to become the biggest bloc — which then elects Iraq’s president, who then appoints a prime minister.

HIGHLIGHTS

•Grenades have been lobbed at the home of a Taqadum lawmaker, as well as at the party offices of Azm, Taqadum and the KDP in Baghdad.

•On Sunday, flashbang stun grenades were hurled into the branches of two Kurdish banks in Baghdad — wounding two people.

In previous parliaments, parties from Iraq’s Shiite majority have struck compromise deals to work together and form a government, with an unofficial system whereby the prime minister is Shiite, the president is a Kurd and the speaker of parliament is Sunni.

But Sadr, who once led an anti-US militia and who opposes all foreign interference, has repeatedly said the next prime minister will be chosen by his movement.

So rather than strike an alliance with the powerful Shiite Coordination Framework — which includes the pro-Iran Fatah alliance, the political arm of the former paramilitary Hashd Al-Shaabi — Sadr has forged a new coalition.

That includes two Sunni parties, Taqadum and Azm, as well as the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

It has infuriated the Coordination Framework — who insist their grouping is bigger.

In recent days, grenades have been lobbed at the home of a Taqadum lawmaker, as well as at the party offices of Azm, Taqadum and the KDP in Baghdad.

On Sunday, flashbang stun grenades were hurled into the branches of two Kurdish banks in the capital Baghdad — wounding two people.

The heads of both banks are said to be close to political leaders in Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdistan region.

There has already been unrest following the election, with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi escaping unhurt when an explosive-packed drone hit his residence in November during what his office called an “assassination attempt.”

No group has claimed the attack.

While the culprits of the recent grenade blasts have also not been identified, a security source charged that the attacks “convey the messages of the parties that lost in the elections.”

The purpose, the security source claimed, is to “disrupt the formation of the government” — implicitly pointing to the Coordination Framework, and in particular the Fatah alliance.

Fatah lost much of its political capital in the Oct. 10 polls, having secured only 17 seats, compared to the 48 it had before.

It alleged the vote was rigged, but Iraq’s top court rejected a complaint of electoral irregularities filed by Hashd.

Hashd, which maintains an arsenal of weapons, fighters and supporters, has sought a variety of ways to make itself heard outside parliament, including demonstrations and sit-ins.

“Rather than accepting defeat at the polls, they threaten violence,” said Lahib Higel, of the International Crisis Group.

Sadr has considered striking deals with certain members of the Coordination Framework, such as Fatah chief Hadi Al-Ameri, at the expense of other figures in the bloc, such as former Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, Higel said.

But such an arrangement “is not Iran’s preference” Higel argued, adding that Tehran “would rather see a consensus that includes all Shiite parties.”

However, she said Iran could settle for a deal where Shiite parties held sway. “It is possible that they (Iran) would accept a scenario where not everyone is represented in the next government, as long as there is a sufficient amount of Shiite parties, including some Hashd factions,” she said.


Giants Brigades discover cache of mines, explosive devices smuggled by Houthis under guise of UN aid

Giants Brigades discover cache of mines, explosive devices smuggled by Houthis under guise of UN aid
Updated 50 min 13 sec ago

Giants Brigades discover cache of mines, explosive devices smuggled by Houthis under guise of UN aid

Giants Brigades discover cache of mines, explosive devices smuggled by Houthis under guise of UN aid
  • The minister said the boxes had UN logos on them and called on the UN and relief organizations to investigate
  • He urged the international community to designate the militia as a terrorist organization

RIYADH: The Giant Brigades fighting the Houthis in Yemen have discovered a large quantity of mines and explosive devices hidden by the militia in aid boxes in Harib, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Houthi militia left the boxes, used to smuggle weapons, behind after fleeing the district in Marib province, Yemen’s information minister Moammar Al-Eryani said.

The minister said the boxes had UN logos on them and condemned the Houthi actions as “a heinous crime that reveals the ugly face of the criminal militia.”

He said the crime reveals tricks used by the militia to transport weapons and ammunition and exploit humanitarian work as a cover to continue killing Yemenis and carry out criminal activities. 

It also shows how the militia employs airports and ports to smuggle ballistic missiles and Iranian-made drones, he said. 

“We call on the UN and international relief organizations to investigate the incident and denounce the crime of using their logos as cover to transport and store mines and explosive devices used by the Houthi militia in homes, schools, mosques, markets, roads, (targeting) innocent civilians, including women, children, and the elderly,” Al-Eryani said.

He also called on the international community, and UN and US envoys for Yemen to condemn these practices and put pressure on the Houthi militia to stop its crimes against civilians.

He urged the international community to designate it as a terrorist organization and prosecute its leaders in the International Criminal Court as “war criminals.”

The discovery comes a day after the Houthis carried out a drone and missile attack on the UAE that killed three people.

The attack was condemned by the UN and the international community.


UAE calls for UN Security Council session over Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN, urged the Security Council to convene in response to the deadly terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi on Monday. (UN)
Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN, urged the Security Council to convene in response to the deadly terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi on Monday. (UN)
Updated 18 January 2022

UAE calls for UN Security Council session over Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN, urged the Security Council to convene in response to the deadly terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi on Monday. (UN)
  • Emirati envoy Lana Nusseibeh urged the council to speak with one voice and ‘unequivocally’ condemn the outrage
  • Three people were killed and six injured in drone strike on oil facility, and a fire was sparked at Abu Dhabi’s international airport

NEW YORK: The UAE mission at the UN in New York on Tuesday called on the Security Council to convene in response to the deadly terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi a day earlier.

In a letter addressed to the Norwegian delegation, which holds the presidency of the council this month, the UAE’s permanent representative to the UN denounced the Houthi militia in Yemen for targeting civilians “in flagrant violation of international law” and called on the council to “unequivocally” condemn the attacks “with one voice.”

“The UAE expresses its condolences to the families of the deceased and wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” Lana Nusseibeh said in the letter.

“This illegal and alarming escalation is a further step in the Houthis’ efforts to spread terrorism and chaos in our region.

“It is another attempt by the Houthis, using the capabilities they have unlawfully acquired in defiance of UN sanctions, to threaten peace and security.”

Three people were killed and six injured in a drone assault on a key oil facility in the Emirati capital, and a separate fire was sparked at Abu Dhabi’s international airport, police said. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, which immediately drew condemnation worldwide.

On Friday the Security Council unanimously condemned another hostile Houthi act, the seizure on Jan. 3 of the UAE-flagged ship Rwabee in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen and the detention of its crew.

In a statement drafted by the UK, council members demanded the immediate release of the vessel and those on board, and urged the Houthis to guarantee the safety and well-being of the crew.

They also called on all sides to resolve the issue quickly and highlighted the importance of preserving freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, in accordance with international law.

The hijacking of the Rwabee marked the latest Houthi assault in the Red Sea, a crucial route for international trade and energy shipments.


Egypt’s president raises minimum monthly wage to around $172

Egypt’s president raises minimum monthly wage to around $172
Updated 18 January 2022

Egypt’s president raises minimum monthly wage to around $172

Egypt’s president raises minimum monthly wage to around $172
  • President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced in a statement that the minimum monthly wage in the country would be 2,700 Egyptian pounds ($171.5)
  • He also raised salaries of civil servants by about 13%

CAIRO: Egypt’s president on Tuesday raised the minimum monthly wage to about $172, a move meant to ease the burdens of Egyptians hurt by painful austerity measures in recent years.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced in a statement that the minimum monthly wage in the country would be 2,700 Egyptian pounds ($171.5) — a 12.5 percent increase from the current 2,400 Egyptian pounds ($152.5).
He also raised salaries of civil servants by about 13 percent. This is the third time El-Sisi increased the minimum wage since he took office in 2014. The announcement came after the president met Tuesday with the prime minister, finance minister and other financial officials to discuss the next budget. Bonuses for school teachers were also announced.
The statement did not say when the increases will be applied, but they are expected with the start of the new fiscal year in July,
The austerity measures were part of an ambitious economic reform program intended to revive Egypt’s economy, mauled by years of political turmoil and violence following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The reforms were agreed on with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a $12 billion loan, which Egypt’s government secured in 2016.
The measures included floating the currency, substantial cuts in state subsidies for basic goods, and introducing a wide range of new taxes. They set off a significant hike in prices and services, something critics say has hurt the poor and middle class the hardest.
According to official statistics, 29.7 percent of Egypt’s over 100 million people live in poverty.
El-Sisi has repeatedly thanked Egyptians, especially women, for enduring the harsh measures.