Region reacts with outrage to Houthi hijacking of UAE ship off Yemen

A picture taken on March 20, 2021 shows the port of Yemen’s Red Sea coastal city of Hodeida, around 230 kilometers west of the capital Sanaa. (AFP)
A picture taken on March 20, 2021 shows the port of Yemen’s Red Sea coastal city of Hodeida, around 230 kilometers west of the capital Sanaa. (AFP)
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Updated 04 January 2022

Region reacts with outrage to Houthi hijacking of UAE ship off Yemen

Region reacts with outrage to Houthi hijacking of UAE ship off Yemen
  • The ship was seized shortly before midnight on Sunday in waters near the port city of Hodeidah, according to the Arab coalition
  • Militia’s actions condemned as a war crime that breaches international law and threatens freedom of navigation and regional security

LONDON: The reported hijacking of a UAE cargo ship off the coast of Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthi militia drew widespread condemnation across the region on Monday.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition said the ship was seized shortly before midnight on Sunday near the port city of Hodeidah. Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said the ship, the Rawabi, was on a naval mission from the Yemeni island of Socotra to the Saudi port of Jazan, carrying equipment that had been used for a Saudi field hospital on the island.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the hijacking, describing the attack as a criminal act that obstructs the freedom of maritime and commercial navigation, as guaranteed by international laws and treaties, and could disrupt humanitarian aid and other relief efforts to help the Yemeni people.
The Arab Interior Ministers Council said the hijacking constitutes a war crime and stressed the importance of standing firm against the actions of the Houthi militia “which presents, day after day, clear evidence of its aggressive behavior and its endeavors to destabilize regional security and stability.”
The Arab Parliament, the legislative body of the Arab League, said that the hijacking represents a flagrant violation of international laws and norms, and warned of the threat the actions of the Houthis pose to freedom of maritime navigation and global trade in the Bab Al-Mandab strait and the southern Red Sea.
It described the incident as a dangerous development that threatens the economy and international trade and added: “The targeting of vital facilities and global transport routes is a war crime, which requires an immediate and firm international stance.”
The Arab Parliament reiterated the importance of an absolute commitment to international resolutions and charters, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Nayef Al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also condemned the incident and called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and take a firm stance toward the Houthis’ hostile practices.
He stressed that GCC member states would support the UAE in all the measures it will take against this brutal attack, and said the regional bloc “rejects any impediment to the movement of ships and tankers, which represents a criminal act and a war crime.”
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalek said only strong and firm deterrents will halt the actions of the Houthis. The government “will remain committed to working with all our partners to combat this piracy and terrorism by all means,” he added.
Yemen’s Foreign Ministry said: “This violation requires the international community to stand up to its responsibilities toward these irresponsible terrorist behaviors by the Houthi militias.”
It also pledged support for all measures the Arab coalition forces take in responding to the hijacking in a way that protects the security and safety of international navigation and global energy security.
Authorities in Bahrain said the incident demonstrated the Houthis’ determination to destabilize regional security and stability. They called on the international community to condemn the dangerous terrorist act and put pressure on the militia to immediately release the ship and its crew.
Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan also strongly condemned the attack as a threat to maritime navigation and a flagrant violation of international law, and called for the ship to be released immediately so that it can resume its journey.


Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming

Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming
Updated 56 min 56 sec ago

Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming

Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming
  • The military said the soldiers opened fire when the motorist tried to run them over
  • Israeli media said the driver was killed

JERUSALEM : Israeli troops on Saturday shot and killed a Palestinian motorist who allegedly tried to ram his car into a group of soldiers patrolling in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli soldiers and media.
The incident took place near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank — the focal point of the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in the occupied territory since 2016.
In a brief statement, the military said the soldiers opened fire when the motorist tried to run them over. Israeli media said the driver was killed. There was no way to immediately verify the account.
Palestinian assailants have carried out dozens of attempted stabbings and car rammings in recent years. But Palestinians and human rights groups say that Israeli troops often use excessive force, and in some cases, have shot people who did not pose a threat.
Israeli troops have been carrying out stepped-up activity in the northern West Bank since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks inside Israel last spring. Several attackers came from the area.
Some 90 Palestinians have been killed in the crackdown. Israel says many were militants or local youths who hurled stones and firebombs at troops, though several civilians have also died.
Early this week, Palestinian security forces, which coordinate activity with Israel, clashed with Palestinian youths in Nablus. The incident cast a spotlight on the growing ranks of Palestinian youths who see no end in sight to Israel’s 55-year military occupation and view the Palestinian Authority as a vehicle of corruption and collaboration with Israel.
Israeli officials say they are on heightened alert for violence ahead of the Jewish new year, which begins Sunday night.


Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death

Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death
Updated 24 September 2022

Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death

Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death
  • Protestors carrying placards with Amini's photograph gathered outside the UN compound in Erbil chanting "Death to the dictator"
  • "Women, Life, Freedom" chanted others

IRBIL, Iraq: Dozens of Iraqi and Iranian Kurds rallied in Iraq’s northern city of Irbil on Saturday over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in the custody of Iranian police.
Protesters carrying placards with Amini’s photograph gathered outside the United Nations compound in Irbil chanting “Death to the dictator” — a reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Women, Life, Freedom” chanted others, many of whom were Iranian Kurds living in self-imposed exile in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Protests broke out in northwestern Iran a week ago at the funeral of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died after falling into a coma following her detention by morality police enforcing hijab rules on women’s dress.
“They killed (Amini) because of a piece of hair coming out from her hijab. The youth is asking for freedom. They are asking for rights for all the people because everyone has the right to have dignity and freedom,” said protester Namam Ismaili, an Iranian Kurd from Sardasht, a Kurdish town in Iran’s northwest.
Amini’s death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, the strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.
“We are not against religion, and we are not against Islam, we are secularists, and we want religion to be separate from politics,” said protester Maysoon Majidi, who is a Kurdish Iranian actor and director living in Irbil.


Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones

Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones
Updated 24 September 2022

Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones

Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones
  • Ukraine said on Friday that it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran’s decision to supply Russian forces with drones

Iran regrets Ukraine’s decision to downgrade ties over the reported supply of Iranian drones to Russia, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Saturday.
Nasser Kanaani said Ukraine should “refrain from being influenced by third parties who seek to destroy relations between the two countries,” a ministry statement said.
Ukraine said on Friday that it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran’s decision to supply Russian forces with drones, a move President Volodymyr Zelensky called “a collaboration with evil.”
Kanaani said Ukraine’s decision was “based on unconfirmed reports and resulted from a media hype by foreign parties.”
Military authorities in southern Ukraine said on Saturday they had shot down at least seven Iranian drones, including six Shahed-136 “kamikaze” craft over the sea near the ports of Odesa and Pivdennyi on Friday.
These included — for the first time in Ukraine — a MoHajjer-6, a larger Iranian drone, the southern military command said.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an English language tweet on Saturday that Iran was supporting Russia “by giving modern drones to (a) backward country for the murders of Ukrainians.”


Over 700 protesters arrested in Iran, including 60 women

Over 700 protesters arrested in Iran, including 60 women
Updated 24 September 2022

Over 700 protesters arrested in Iran, including 60 women

Over 700 protesters arrested in Iran, including 60 women
  • Thirty-five people have been killed in the demonstrations, which are spreading across Iran
  • Women have played a prominent role in the protests, waving and burning their veils

DUBAI/TEHRAN: Iranian police in just one province have arrested over 700 people during more than a week of protests following the death of a young woman in custody, Tasnim news agency reported Saturday.

General Azizollah Maleki, police chief of Guilan province, announced “the arrest of 739 rioters including 60 women,” the Iranian media outlet said.

Iran must deal decisively with protests which have swept the country after the death in custody of a woman detained by the Islamic Republic’s morality police, President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday.

Thirty-five people have been killed in the weeklong demonstrations, according to Iran’s state television, with protest spreading to most of the country’s 31 provinces.

On Friday, state-organized rallies took place in several Iranian cities to counter the anti-government protests, and the army promised to confront “the enemies” behind the unrest.

State media quoted Raisi on Saturday as saying Iran must “deal decisively with those who oppose the country’s security and tranquility.”

Raisi was speaking by telephone to the family of a member of the Basij volunteer force killed while taking part in the crackdown on unrest in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

The president “stressed the necessity to distinguish between protest and disturbing public order and security, and called the events ... a riot,” state media reported.

The protests broke out in northwestern Iran a week ago at the funeral of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died after falling into a coma following her detention by morality police enforcing hijab rules on women’s dress.

Her death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, the strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.

Women have played a prominent role in the protests, waving and burning their veils. Some have publicly cut their hair as furious crowds called for the fall of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The protests are the largest to sweep the country since demonstrations over fuel prices in 2019, when Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed in a crackdown on protesters. It was the bloodiest confrontation in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Iranian news agencies reported on Saturday that 739 protesters had been arrested in the northern province of Gilan, on the Caspian Sea.

The activist Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has 125,000 followers, said communication channels with the northwestern town of Oshnavieh had been cut off, and landlines were down.


Death toll continue to rise in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria

Death toll continue to rise in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria
Updated 24 September 2022

Death toll continue to rise in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria

Death toll continue to rise in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria
  • Lebanon has become a starting point for illegal migration
  • ‘Death boats’ set off every day from the northern coast of Lebanon

BEIRUT: Eighty-nine bodies have been recovered since a boat carrying migrants from Lebanon sunk off Syria’s coast, Syrian state media said Saturday, as the Lebanese army said it arrested a suspected smuggler behind one of the deadliest recent shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Syrian Observatory meanwhile reported the casualties were at 88, with 50 passengers still unaccounted for.
Around 150 people, mostly Lebanese and Syrians, were on board the small vessel that went down on Thursday off the Syrian city of Tartous.
Lebanon has become a starting point for illegal migration, with its citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees clamoring to leave their homeland.
Illegal “death boats” set off every day from the northern coast of Lebanon. Some succeed in reaching their destination, a few are rescued by the coast guards of the countries in whose territorial waters their boats capsize, and the rest are swallowed up by the sea.

Former Tripoli MP Mustafa Alloush told Arab News: “People have completely lost hope that the situation in Lebanon could improve and there are mafias exploiting this.”
He said 95 percent of such illegal trips succeed in reaching their destinations, and those people who make it to Europe encourage their relatives and acquaintances to make the same journey.
He added: “The Lebanese authorities know who these smugglers organizing such trips are. They get huge sums of money. Security officers are paid off to facilitate such journeys or turn a blind eye.
“Why did this boat head toward Syria? Is it not to escape UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon), which patrols Lebanese waters?
“Drug trafficking is illegal, but remains active given the amounts of money paid to dealers and distributors.
“The same goes for human trafficking and smuggling. Money is paid, specifically to those who are supposed to protect people in this country.”
Caretaker Minister of Public Works Ali Hamieh said: “This type of boat was not made for such trips and cannot carry that many people. It turned out that it was recently imported and arrived in Lebanon two months ago.”
Most passengers were residents of northern Lebanon, some were Palestinian refugees from the Nahr Al-Bared camp, but the majority were Syrians, from Idlib, Aleppo and Latakia.
These Syrians had illegally made their way into Lebanon to escape by sea through the north of the country.
Among the victims were two girls who were buried in Akkar, north Lebanon, after being transported there by car from Tartous.
The mayor of Qarqaf, in Akkar, said: “The mother of the two girls drowned, as did her two sons. The father is still alive, but he is in a hospital in Syria.”
The boat had embarked from Lebanon’s northern Minyeh region, with passengers paying $3,000 for children and $7,000 per adult for the trip.
Lebanon’s Secretary-General of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party Ali Hijazi, who traveled to Tartous on Friday, said survivors had informed him the boat “left from Minyeh on Tuesday morning and experienced a technical malfunction. It capsized due to the waves on Thursday morning.”
The Lebanese Army announced it has arrested eight suspected smugglers. The tragedy coincided with the announcement on social media of another boat that left the northern coast of Lebanon bound for Italy and broke down between Greece and Turkey. Its passengers were rescued and are currently in Turkey.

with AFP