Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours
A fighter loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government flashes the victory sign as he mans a position near al-Jawba frontline facing Iran-backed Huthi rebels, in Marib on Oct. 31, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 06 December 2021

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours
  • Action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks

RIYADH: More than 280 Houthi militia members were killed in one of the largest operations targeting the Iran-backed group in Marib in just 24 hours, the Arab coalition said Monday. 
The Arab coalition said it conducted 47 operations against the Houthi militants in Marib, during which34 Houthi vehicles were destroyed as well as ammunition storage sites, Al Arabiya TV reported.  
The action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks, including weapons and personnel.


Sudanese rally against UN bid to resolve crisis

Sudanese rally against UN bid to resolve crisis
Updated 13 sec ago

Sudanese rally against UN bid to resolve crisis

Sudanese rally against UN bid to resolve crisis
  • An 18-year-old protester died on Wednesday after suffering a bullet wound to the head during protests last month

KHARTOUM: Thousands of Sudanese pro-military protesters rallied on Wednesday against a UN bid to resolve a political crisis in the country three months after a coup.

The demonstrators gathered outside the Khartoum office of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, or UNITAMS, which launched talks with Sudanese factions this month.

They held up banners that read, “Down, down UN,” and others that urged UN special representative Volker Perthes to “Go back home.”

“We don’t want external intervention in our country,” protester Hamed Al-Bashir said.

On Jan. 10, Perthes said the consultations aimed “to support the Sudanese to reach an agreement on a way out of the current crisis.” But he added that “the UN is not coming up with any project, draft or vision for a solution.”

On Wednesday, UNITAMS said protesters had gathered outside the mission’s office demanding to expel the mission.

“We defend freedom of assembly & expression and offered to receive a delegation in our premises which they refused,” it said on Twitter.

Sudan has been rocked by a deadly crackdown against protests calling for civilian rule since an October 25 military coup led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.

The country’s latest military takeover derailed a power-sharing transition between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar  Bashir.

The ruling Sovereign Council — formed by Al-Burhan after the coup with himself as chairman — has welcomed the UN-led dialogue, as have the US, Britain, neighboring Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The Forces for Freedom and Change, Sudan’s main civilian bloc, has also said it would join consultations “to restore the democratic transition.”

In a Wednesday press conference, FFC leader Omar Al-Degeir called on the international community to stand by “the Sudanese people to achieve its demands to reverse the coup.”

Stephanie Khoury, UNITAMS director of political affairs, said earlier: “Our role at this stage of consultations for a political process for #Sudan is to hear Sudanese stakeholders; ensure we actively listen to their views, document their visions & suggestions.”

An 18-year-old protester died on Wednesday after suffering a bullet wound to the head during protests last month, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.

His death brought the number of people killed in the crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations to 77, including others who were also shot in the head, it said.


Algerian minister calls for vaccination amid virus surge

Algerian minister calls for vaccination amid virus surge
Updated 3 min 44 sec ago

Algerian minister calls for vaccination amid virus surge

Algerian minister calls for vaccination amid virus surge
  • Algeria is battling infections from both the delta variant and the highly contagious omicron variant

ALGIERS: Algeria’s health minister on Tuesday urged people to get vaccinated and save hospitals from collapse as the North African nation faces a surge of COVID-19 infections.

Algeria is battling infections from both the delta variant and the highly contagious omicron variant, which now accounts for 60 percent of COVID-19 infections.

On Monday, health officials reported a daily record of 2,215 cases and 13 deaths.

“I urge you to get vaccinated and break the chain of infections which risk bringing our health institutions to their knees,” Health Minister Abderahmane Benbouzid said at a media conference in the capital, Algiers. “For now, the hospitals’ staff are managing. The question is, how long can they hold on?”

Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, according to studies. omicron spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.

The inoculation rate in Algeria remains low. Less than a quarter of the population has had even one vaccine dose despite the government’s robust vaccination campaign in state media and on social networks that includes pro-vaccine posts from famous Algerian actors, singers, athletes and influencers.

Algeria has a stock of vaccines that can largely ensure coverage of vaccination needs for two years, the minister said. Overall, only 13 percent of Algeria’s 45 million inhabitants, have been inoculated, the minister said. Of eligible adults, only 29 percent have received two vaccine doses, he said.

In December, Algeria started requiring a vaccine passport to enter many public venues, seeking to overcome vaccine hesitancy that has left millions of vaccines unused.

The pass is also required for anyone entering or leaving Algeria, as well as for entering sports facilities, cinemas, theaters, museums, town halls and other sites like hammams — bath houses that are popular across the region.

Official figures show Algeria has seen 6,508 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began, but even members of the government’s scientific committee admit the real figure is much higher. Out of fears of being blamed for getting the virus, some Algerians keep their infections secret, which then puts others at risk.


Vaccinated tourists need no boosters to enter Abu Dhabi: Authorities

Vaccinated tourists need no boosters to enter Abu Dhabi: Authorities
Updated 11 min 42 sec ago

Vaccinated tourists need no boosters to enter Abu Dhabi: Authorities

Vaccinated tourists need no boosters to enter Abu Dhabi: Authorities
  • The emirate has clarified that all citizens and residents seeking entry must now show proof of a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated

DUBAI: Authorities in the UAE have published new information about the capital’s entry requirements, saying that unlike residents and citizens, vaccinated tourists do not need to show proof of a booster shot to cross into Abu Dhabi.

The tourism-specific change comes as confusion swirls around entry rules for Abu Dhabi, which has taken a more stringent approach to containing the coronavirus than its freewheeling neighbor, Dubai.

The pandemic has prompted Abu Dhabi to erect a hard border with Dubai, forcing all drivers to come to a halt for vaccination and virus checks on what once had been a wide, empty highway before the pandemic struck.

The emirate has clarified that all citizens and residents seeking entry must now show proof of a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated and maintain a “green status” on the government health app.


Iraq’s top court upholds reelection of parliament speaker

Iraq’s top court upholds reelection of parliament speaker
Updated 20 min 24 sec ago

Iraq’s top court upholds reelection of parliament speaker

Iraq’s top court upholds reelection of parliament speaker
  • Hours later, rockets fall some 500 meters from Al-Halbussi’s home in an attack ‘that sought to target him’

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s top court has confirmed the reelection of Mohammed Al-Halbussi as parliament speaker, following appeals against its conduct, paving the way toward the formation of a new government.

Hours later, rockets fell some 500 meters from Al-Halbussi’s home in the Gurma district of Anbar province, in what a security source told AFP was an attack that sought to target him.

Two lawmakers had appealed Al-Halbussi’s reelection as speaker, a position historically reserved for Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, during parliament’s opening session earlier in January which was overshadowed by disputes between rival blocs from the Shiite majority.

“The Federal Supreme Court rejected the appeal of two MPs who demanded the annulment of the inaugural session of parliament on Jan. 9,” in which Al-Halbussi was reelected, said presiding judge Jassim Mohammed Aboud.

The ruling will allow the resumption of parliament sessions, and along with them deliberations over the selection of a new president, who will in turn choose the next prime minister, to be approved by the legislature.

Lawmakers have until Feb. 8 to elect a president — a post historically allocated to a Kurd.

But negotiations between parties and coalitions seeking to form a parliamentary majority have been marked by tensions, particularly between key Shiite currents seeking to exert their influence.

Both the Coordination Framework and another bloc formed by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr claim to have the majority needed to elect a president.

The legislature opened earlier this month to furious arguments between the rival factions.

Amid the debate, Mahmud Al-Mashhadani — the oldest member of parliament who was therefore chairing the opening session — was taken ill and rushed to hospital.

When the session resumed an hour later, lawmakers reelected Al-Halbussi of the Sunni Taqadom party as speaker.

Appeals against the speaker’s reelection were filed by Mashhadani and another MP, Bassem Khachan.

After Wednesday’s rocket attack, two wounded children were “taken to hospital in Gurma,” Iraqi police said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Several grenade attacks have in recent days targeted political figures from parties that could team up with Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr to form a parliamentary coalition in the wake of Iraq’s October legislative elections.

Sadr, whose bloc took the largest share of seats, is seeking to build a coalition bringing together Taqadom — Al-Halbussi’s party — a second Sunni party and a Kurdish grouping.


Third Libya minister detained for corruption

Third Libya minister detained for corruption
Updated 31 min 23 sec ago

Third Libya minister detained for corruption

Third Libya minister detained for corruption
  • The government of interim Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibeh did not immediately comment on the detentions

TRIPOLI: Libya’s health minister and his deputy have been detained as part of a corruption probe, prosecutors said on Wednesday, the third detention of a Cabinet member in recent weeks.

Ali Zenati and his deputy were held for questioning over suspected “imports of oxygen concentrators at 10 times the market value,” which may amount to “noncompliance with regulations related to public contracts,” said a prosecution statement.

The ministry had signed contracts with a company founded in August last year “despite it lacking ... the necessary experience to carry out the agreed tasks,” it added.

The government of interim Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibeh did not immediately comment on the detentions.

Libya has been mired in perpetual crisis since the 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and corruption is rife throughout state institutions.

Zenati’s detention comes after prosecutors questioned Culture Minister Mabrouka Touki in late December over a contract for maintenance works on ministry buildings which had already been refurbished.

That came a week and a half after Libya’s Education Minister Moussa Al-Megarief was arrested as part of an inquiry into a lack of schoolbooks.

Al-Megarief remains in detention, while Touki was held for a few days then released, although she remains under investigation.