Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen

Debris lies at the site of airstrikes by the Arab coalition in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (AP)
Debris lies at the site of airstrikes by the Arab coalition in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 05 December 2021

Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen

Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen
  • Yemen’s information minister calls upon US, UN to condemn terror attacks on residential areas
  • Footage on social media showed thick smoke billowing from shelled areas as people fled

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Three Yemeni civilians were wounded when four missiles fired by the Iran-backed Houthis landed in residential areas in Yemen’s central city of Marib as heavy fighting rages outside the strategic city, local officials and residents said on Sunday.
Large explosions rocked the city after the four missiles hit the airport, Al-Shareka and Rawdha neighborhoods, residents said.
Footage on social media showed thick smoke billowing from shelled areas as people fled.
Yemen’s Information Minister called on the UN and the US Yemen envoys to condemn the Houthi missile attacks and to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization.
“The Houthi militia’s repeated targeting of the city of Marib, which is crowded with millions of residents and displaced people, with ballistic missiles is part of its attempts to inflict a big number of casualties among civilians. This is a cowardly act of revenge,” Moammar Al-Eryani said on Twitter.
The Houthi shelling of Marib came as the Arab coalition announced it had intercepted four explosive-rigged drones fired by the Houthis at southern areas in Saudi Arabia.
The coalition also said it had killed more than 115 Houthis in the past 24 hours after targeting their locations and military vehicles with 19 airstrikes in the provinces of Jouf and Marib, bringing the total number of Houthi deaths during the past 48 hours to more than 175. 

At the same time, fierce fighting between government troops and the Houthis broke out on Sunday in flashpoint sites south of Marib city as the Houthis intensified their attacks, a local military official told Arab News.
The official said dozens of Houthis were killed in fighting in different locations in Juba district and seven others surrendered to government troops.
Yemeni military officials usually link the Houthi arbitrary shelling of the city of Marib to the death of rebel military leaders or defeats they have suffered.
“We think that a number of high-ranking Houthi military leaders were killed on Sunday in Marib province,” the official said.
The commander of the 143rd Infantry Brigade in Marib, Brig. Gen. Thayab Abdul Waded Al-Qibili, said on Sunday that army troops killed dozens of Houthis and destroyed 10 military vehicles during heavy fighting in Marib’s Rowdhat Jehim, praising the Arab coalition’s warplanes for targeting Houthi military reinforcements on the battlefields south of Marib, Yemen’s Defense Ministry news site reported.
Thousands of combatants and civilians have been killed in the province of Marib since February when the Houthis renewed a military offensive to seize control of the energy-rich city of Marib, the government’s last bastion in the north.


Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’

Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’
Updated 16 sec ago

Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’

Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’
  • Representative says fisticuffs ‘a defense of God and honor of female colleague’

AMMAN: Jordanian MPs on Monday imposed a two-year suspension on their colleague Hassan Al-Riyati for “violent and indecent behavior” during the lower house’s session on constitutional amendments.

A majority of lawmakers voted in favor of the parliamentary disciplinary committee’s recommendation to impose a two-year membership freeze on Al-Riyati, a representative of Jordan’s southern port city of Aqaba.

Al-Riyati was among three other MPs who engaged in fisticuffs when the chamber descended into a mass brawl on Dec. 28 last year following after a heated discussion over controversial constitutional amendments.

The incident began after a session opened with a discussion on proposed constitutional amendments, under which the term “female Jordanians” was added to the title of the second chapter of the constitution on Jordanians’ rights and duties.

Some MPs, especially women, claimed that the amendment will create discrimination between Jordanians based on gender.

The heated discussion ignited verbal altercations and an exchange of insults between House Speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi and Deputy Suleiman Abu Yahya, who accused Dughmi of an “inability to run the show.”

In press remarks following Monday’s session, Al-Riyati described the decision to suspend him as “unfair and biased,” adding that the disciplinary committee’s report on the case was “inaccurate and faulty.”

Al-Riyati said that the committee recommended no disciplinary measures against other lawmakers who were also involved in the brawl.

“No single punishment was imposed on the MPs who insulted God and our female colleague using blasphemous and indecent behavior,” Al-Riyati added.

The lawmaker said that he would challenge the suspension decision or would resign. “All options are on the table now, but I have not made up my mind yet.”

Following the session on Dec. 28, Al-Riyati was given a hero’s welcome by his supporters in Aqaba, about 300 kilometers south of the capital, Amman.

At the time, the deputy justified his violent behavior during the session as “a defense of God and the honor of his female colleague.”


Turkish court rules to keep philanthropist Kavala in prison

Turkish court rules to keep philanthropist Kavala in prison
Updated 20 min 41 sec ago

Turkish court rules to keep philanthropist Kavala in prison

Turkish court rules to keep philanthropist Kavala in prison
  • The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2019 that Kavala’s rights had been violated and ordered his release — but Turkey has repeatedly refused to do so
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly disdains Kavala, accusing him of being the ‘Turkish leg’ of billionaire US philanthropist George Soros

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court ruled Monday that prominent Turkish civil rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala should stay in prison, despite his more than four years in pre-trial detention.
The hearing took place as a Council of Europe deadline that could trigger infringement procedures looms. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2019 that Kavala’s rights had been violated and ordered his release. But Turkey has repeatedly refused to do so.
Kavala, who is in Silivri prison on the outskirts of Istanbul, did not participate in the hearing in line with an October statement that he would no longer attend trials via video conference because he didn’t have faith the court would deliver a fair trial.

Kavala, 64, is accused of financing nationwide anti-government protests in 2013, attempting to overthrow the government by helping orchestrate a coup attempt three years later and espionage. He denies the charges, which carry a life sentence without parole.
He was acquitted in February 2020 of charges in connection with the 2013 Gezi Park protests. As supporters awaited his release, Kavala was rearrested on new charges. The acquittal was later overturned and linked to charges relating to the 2016 coup attempt, which the Turkish government blames on the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies any ties to the coup.
That trial is now part of a merged case involving 51 other defendants, including fans of the Besiktas soccer club who were acquitted six years ago of charges related to the Gezi protests before that decision also was overturned. Kavala is the only jailed defendant.
Kavala’s lawyer, Koksal Bayraktar, had demanded his release.
“His continued imprisonment for 1,539 days is the continuation of lawlessness identified by the European Court of Human Rights,” Bayraktar said. “End this lawlessness today so our client gets his freedom.”
Taksim Solidarity, a group defending the small Gezi Park in central Istanbul, said before the third hearing that the peaceful 2013 protests, which were based on constitutional rights allowing citizens to demand democracy, couldn’t be tarnished through the judiciary.
In October, Kavala’s case also caused a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and 10 Western countries, including the United States, France and Germany, after they called for his release on the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly disdains Kavala, accusing him of being the “Turkish leg” of billionaire US philanthropist George Soros, whom Erdogan alleges has been behind insurrections in many countries. He threatened to expel Western envoys for meddling in Turkey’s internal affairs.
The European Court of Human Rights’ 2019 decision said Kavala’s imprisonment aimed to silence him and other human rights defenders and wasn’t supported by evidence of an offense.
The Council of Europe, a 47-member bloc that upholds human rights, notified Turkey in December that it intended to refer the case to the court to determine whether Turkey refused to abide by final judgments, which are binding. It called on Turkey to release Kavala immediately and conclude the criminal procedures without delay. It asked Turkey to submit its views by Jan. 19 before a Feb. 2 session of the council.
Kavala is the founder of a nonprofit organization, Anadolu Kultur, which focuses on cultural and artistic projects promoting peace and dialogue.
The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.


Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs

Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs
Updated 17 January 2022

Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs

Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs
  • FMs call for exit of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libyan territory during talks held in Cairo
  • Meeting touched on several issues of mutual interest, including developments in Sudan, Mali, and the Sahel and Sahara region

CAIRO: Egypt and Algeria agreed on the necessity of stopping any foreign interference in the affairs of Libya and the exit of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libyan territory during talks held in Cairo between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra.

Lamamra’s visit to Cairo, which began on Sunday, is the second in his capacity as a special envoy of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Egypt is the third Arab stop in the Algerian foreign minister’s Arab tour, which he began in Saudi Arabia with the delivery of a written message from Tebboune to King Salman. Abu Dhabi was the second Arab capital Lamamra visited.

During the meeting, Ambassador Ahmed Hafez, the official spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, stated that the two ministers expressed pride in the relations between Egypt and Algeria and a desire to continue strengthening cooperation across various fields, including in economic and investment opportunities.

He added that the meeting touched on several issues of mutual interest, including developments in Sudan, Mali, and the Sahel and Sahara region. The two ministers stressed the need to coordinate within a framework of joint African action in a way that enhances efforts to achieve peace, security and prosperity on the continent, especially in light of the various security challenges.

They also stressed the importance of advancing Arab efforts in a similar way within the framework of the Arab League.


Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran

Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran
Updated 17 January 2022

Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran

Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran
  • Barry Rosen was one of 52 Americans seized by extremists at US embassy in 1979
  • Iran has long used hostage-taking of dual nationals as a tool of its foreign affairs

LONDON: A man held as a hostage for over a year by Iranian extremists in the turmoil following Iran’s Islamic Revolution has pledged to initiate a hunger strike to demand the release of all existing hostages in Iran. 

Barry Rosen was one of 52 Americans held as hostages for 444 days by Iranian extremists who stormed the US Embassy in Tehran after a coalition of Islamists and other protestors deposed the Shah of Iran in 1979.

He announced Monday on Twitter that he will travel to Vienna and initiate a hunger strike aimed at pressuring the US into prioritizing the release of foreign hostages during ongoing talks with Tehran.

The Vienna talks are currently aimed primarily at curbing Iran’s nuclear arms program, but many, such as Rosen, have urged the US to broaden the scope of talks to curtailing Iran’s other belligerent behavior, such as its taking of foreign hostages.

In a video statement, Rosen said: “This week marks the 41st anniversary of my release from captivity. But the hostage crisis hasn’t ended for many others, Americans and Westerners, who are currently being held as bargaining chips in Iran.

“There are at least two dozen of them. It is clear to me that the release of hostages can only take place if the United States, and countries like the United States, put pressure on Iran,” said Rosen, who worked in the US press attaché during the 1979 hostage crisis.

He pledged to stage a hunger strike in Vienna.

“My message is simple: no deal with Iran unless the hostages are free,” said Rosen, adding that he will deliver the message to both the American and Iranian delegations in Vienna.

He said his hunger strike will take place despite concerns over his health due to his age because it is “the right thing for the hostages and their family.”

Iran has long been accused of detaining foreigners, particularly those with dual Iranian nationality, in order to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations later.

High-profile individuals currently detained include Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national who has been held in Iran for nearly six years.

Her family believes she is being held as a hostage to use as a negotiation tool in a separate issue between London and Tehran that has been simmering for decades.

Rights group Amnesty International said that Nazanin continues to be used as a “bargaining chip” at the hands of an authority who has “played cruel political games with her life.”

In a separate statement, Amnesty also decried Tehran’s entire hostage-taking strategy.

“In recent years, the Iranian authorities have arrested and detained dozens of dual nationals, including prisoners of conscience such as journalists, academics and human rights defenders,” said the group.

But the approach has, in the past, paid off for Iran. During the Obama administration, the US transferred $1.7 billion in cash to Iran in exchange for the release of several Iranian-American citizens.

Many believe that Tehran is again hoping to use hostages as bargaining chips, this time to pressure the US and its Western partners into a more favorable deal in Vienna.


Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP

Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP
Updated 17 January 2022

Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP

Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP
  • Sudanese security forces fire tear gas at thousands in Khartoum

KHARTOUM Thousands in Sudan took to the streets Monday to protest a military coup nearly three months ago, and were quickly met by tear gas fired by security forces, according to an AFP correspondent.
Security officers had deployed in large numbers as the demonstrators carrying the Sudanese flag gathered in the capital, Khartoum, as well as other cities.