26 killed in Al-Qaeda attack in Yemen’s Abyan

Special 26 killed in Al-Qaeda attack in Yemen’s Abyan
Military personnel of Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council during their redeployment from the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, Yemen, Dec. 14, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 September 2022

26 killed in Al-Qaeda attack in Yemen’s Abyan

26 killed in Al-Qaeda attack in Yemen’s Abyan
  • Heavy fighting resulted in the deaths of 20 soldiers, including local security leader Col. Yasser Nasser Shayae
  • Attack comes as security forces seek to reclaim control of several remote areas in the south that have long been regarded as safe havens for militants

AL-MUKALLA: At least 26 people were killed on Tuesday when Al-Qaeda militants attacked a military outpost manned by Yemeni security forces in the southern province of Abyan, the group’s deadliest strike in months.

Mohammed Al-Naqeeb, a spokesperson for pro-independence southern forces, said the attack on a Security Belt Forces location in Ahwar resulted in hours of heavy fighting and the deaths of 20 soldiers, including local security leader Col. Yasser Nasser Shayae, and six militants.

“The attackers used a variety of weapons, including heavy and light machine guns, RPGs and grenades, and our forces were able to neutralize them all,” Al-Naqeeb said.

The attack comes as military and security forces seek to reclaim control of several rugged and remote areas in the south that have long been regarded as safe havens for militants.

Thanks to help from the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Yemeni forces have largely succeeded in thwarting Al-Qaeda’s attempts to regroup and thus recapture cities in southern provinces.

Since early 2016, Yemeni troops have driven militants out of Al-Mukalla, the capital of the southeastern province of Hadramout, Zinjbar and other Abyan cities, as well as Lahj province. Hundreds of soldiers have been killed or injured in attacks by Al-Qaeda over the period.

Residents of Abyan have recently reported seeing militants setting up checkpoints in remote areas, attacking locals and kidnapping security and military personnel, despite efforts to confront them.

The latest attack prompted officials to call for increased international support for security and military units.

“We are dealing with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the world’s largest terrorist organization. If we were successful in defeating them, the world as a whole, not just the south, would benefit,” Al-Naqeeb said.

Mohammed Al-Ghaithi, the head of the Consultations and Reconciliation Commission, a body that advises the Presidential Leadership Council, said that peace would not come until all terrorist organizations and those who support them were destroyed.

He also called for military support so that forces could fight Al-Qaeda and other armed groups.

“Peace and stability can only be attained by utterly eradicating terrorism and its supporters.,” he said.

“Friends, partners and allies from across the globe and in our region must assume full accountability for our military’s battle against terrorism, including the obligation to assist our troops as they face this incredibly deadly common threat.”


US imposes sanctions on Turkish businessman, citing links to Iran’s Quds Force

US imposes sanctions on Turkish businessman, citing links to Iran’s Quds Force
Updated 12 sec ago

US imposes sanctions on Turkish businessman, citing links to Iran’s Quds Force

US imposes sanctions on Turkish businessman, citing links to Iran’s Quds Force

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration on Thursday is set to impose sanctions on prominent Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan and his network of companies, accusing him of acting as a facilitator for oil sales and money laundering on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
According to a Treasury statement due to be released later on Thursday and seen by Reuters, Ayan’s companies have established international sales contracts for Iranian oil, arranged shipments and helped launder the proceeds and obscured the origin of the Iranian oil on behalf of Iran’s Quds Force, an arm of the IRGC.
“Ayan has established business contracts to sell Iranian oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars to buyers,” in China and Europe, the statement says, adding that he then funneled the proceeds back to the Quds Force.
Ayan’s son Bahaddin Ayan, his associate Kasim Oztas and another individual will also be designated, along with at least two dozen companies including his ASB Group of Companies, a Gibraltar-based holding company.
The Treasury action will freeze any US assets of those designated and generally bar Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions would also risk being hit with sanctions.
The US measures come at a time when ties between the United States and Turkiye are strained over a host of issues, including disagreement over Syria policy and Ankara’s purchase of Russian air defense systems.
Most recently, Washington has warned Turkiye to refrain from carrying out a military incursion into northern Syria after Ankara said it was preparing a possible ground invasion against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia that it views as terrorists but who make up the bulk of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Washington maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran and has looked for ways to increase pressure as efforts to resurrect a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran have stalled.
US President Joe Biden had sought to negotiate the return of Iran to the nuclear deal after former President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018.
The 2015 agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear arms in return for lifting international sanctions. Iran denies wanting to acquire nuclear weapons. 


Palestinians demand Abbas end security deal with Israel after 4 killed

Palestinians demand Abbas end security deal with Israel after 4 killed
Updated 08 December 2022

Palestinians demand Abbas end security deal with Israel after 4 killed

Palestinians demand Abbas end security deal with Israel after 4 killed
  • Public mourning was announced in Jenin for the victims killed at dawn on Thursday
  • Palestinian political analyst Hani Al-Masri said on Facebook that Abbas is “confused and is confusing the world with him”

RAMALLAH: Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in Ramallah and Jenin in a 12-hour period, with 15 Palestinians being arrested in the West Bank, leading to growing calls for President Mahmoud Abbas to end security coordination with Israel.
Public mourning was announced in Jenin for the victims killed at dawn on Thursday as the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year reached 164.
The bloodshed has pushed senior Fatah leaders to call on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately halt security coordination with Israel, especially after the country’s election of a far right-wing government under Benjamin Netanyahu that has vowed to subject Palestinians to unprecedented punitive measures.
Abbas told Al Arabiya that “security coordination is part of the agreements, and we have a theory that combating terrorism should be done wherever it is (needed), and here is an important point that no one may know. We concluded agreements to combat terrorism and violence with 85 countries in the world, led by the US, UK, Canada, Russia and Japan.
“Today we signed an agreement with Cyprus; we are, in principle, against terrorism and violence. Also, with Israel, we are against terrorism and violence, but if Israel continues with its actions, why should I complete and be committed to the security agreement? I will cancel my commitment to the security agreement if Israel continues to strike casually.”
When asked why Palestinian security services fail to confront Israeli troops who storm Palestinian cities, Abbas said that the security services “work as much as they can, but I do not want matters to reach the point of armed confrontation (with the Israeli army).”
The Palestinian Authority has about 35,000 security personnel in the West Bank, including the Presidential Guard, National Security, General Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Preventive Security and Civil Police.
Palestinian political analyst Hani Al-Masri said on Facebook that Abbas is “confused and is confusing the world with him.”
He added: “He can abandon them (the security agreements with Israel) at any moment if the Israeli government continues to not abide by them.”
Abbas said that he would deal with the next government under Netanyahu, maintaining his position that “all Israeli governments are the same. All of them commit massacres.”
A Palestinian youth activist in Ramallah told Arab News: “There is no difference between a left-wing government and a right-wing government in Israel when it comes to killing Palestinians. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a friend of Mahmoud Abbas, has overseen the killing of scores of Palestinians since the beginning of the year.”
Security experts told Arab News that due to Palestinian security coordination with Israel, recruitment in the state’s security forces has slumped over the past year.
Taysir Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Nablus, told Arab News that it has become “shameful and embarrassing for us as Palestinians and for the PA to continue security coordination in the face of the continuation of crimes and field executions of Palestinians by Israel.
“Security coordination must be stopped immediately, whatever the justifications for its continuation by the PA. It has become a personal demand for the sake of national dignity,” he said.
Nasrallah added that the issue was discussed during the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah earlier this week.
Jamal Hweil, a member of the council from the Jenin refugee camp, told Arab News: “I advise Abbas to stop the security coordination immediately because the occupation has not and will not change its policy toward the Palestinians, and as (former Israeli premier) Ben-Gurion said, had it not been for the Deir Yassin massacre, there would have been no state called Israel.”
The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when about 130 fighters from the Zionist paramilitary groups Irgun and Lehi killed at least 107 Palestinian Arabs, including women and children, in Deir Yassin, a village of about 600 people near Jerusalem.
Hweil said that continuing security coordination with Israel means “giving the Israeli army bullets to shoot and kill the Palestinians.”
Ahmed Ghuneim, a prominent Fatah leader in East Jerusalem, told Arab News that the PA should have stopped security coordination long ago because “there is nothing left of the Oslo Accords but to participate in protecting Israel’s security.”
Ghuneim said that the desire of Palestinian officials to “remain in power” is behind the PA’s continued support for security coordination with Israel, despite the latter committing daily violence against Palestinians.


Lebanon detainees stuck in limbo as judges’ strike drags on

Lebanon detainees stuck in limbo as judges’ strike drags on
Updated 08 December 2022

Lebanon detainees stuck in limbo as judges’ strike drags on

Lebanon detainees stuck in limbo as judges’ strike drags on
  • Judges have suspended their work as rampant inflation eats away at their salaries, paralysing the judiciary and leaving detainees in limbo
  • Bureaucracy and rampant corruption have long delayed verdicts and judicial proceedings in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Taxi driver Youssef Daher has languished for months in prison without charge, one of scores stuck after Lebanese judges launched an open-ended strike in August to demand better wages in a collapsed economy.
Judges have suspended their work as rampant inflation eats away at their salaries, paralysing the judiciary and leaving detainees in limbo — the latest outcome of Lebanon’s years-long financial crisis.
From his jail cell in the northern city of Tripoli, Daher sends daily messages to his lawyer asking him whether judges have ended what is already the longest strike for their profession in Lebanese history.
“My family lost their sole breadwinner and must now rely on aid to survive,” he told AFP.
Daher has not seen his wife and three children since he was arrested eight months ago because they cannot afford transportation to get to the prison, he said.
Security forces arrested Daher after he gave a ride to a passenger accused of kidnapping — unbeknownst to him, he said.
Authorities did not press charges against Daher after questioning, so his lawyer requested his release. Then judges began their strike.
His request has been pending ever since.
Bureaucracy and rampant corruption have long delayed verdicts and judicial proceedings in Lebanon, where 8,000 people are estimated to be jailed, most of them awaiting a verdict.
But now, underfunded public institutions have taken a hit after the country’s economy went into free-fall in 2019, with basic state services like renewing passports or completing a real estate transaction often taking months to complete.
Although judges’ salaries are expected to triple as part of Lebanon’s 2022 budget, their wages are currently worth only around $160 on average due to soaring inflation.
“How can a judge live with his family on such a salary?” one striker asked, adding that some of his colleagues with chronic illnesses could no longer afford medication.
“Judges were forced to launch this strike because their financial situation has become unbearable,” he said.
Judges who spoke to AFP said they also wanted better working conditions as they had been forced to toil without electricity or running water and buy their own office supplies like pens and paper.
Lebanon’s state electricity provider produces an hour of daily power on average, forcing residents to rely on private generators that public institutions often cannot afford.
The judges’ strike has compounded an already bleak reality for detainees, many of whom spend months or years awaiting a verdict.
Lawyer Jocelyn Al-Rai said her client, a Syrian youth, was arrested two months ago on drug trafficking charges without a warrant and has yet to face questioning, because the public prosecutor’s office has stopped working.
Despite the strike, certain courts continue to function.
In Beirut on Thursday, a criminal court sentenced Hassan Dekko, a man known as the “Captagon King,” to seven years in prison with hard labor for producing and trafficking the stimulant, a judicial source said. Dekko had been arrested in April last year.
Yet the judges’ strike is also contributing to overcrowding in the already cramped prisons, stretching detention facilities that have seen increasing numbers of escape attempts, a source at the Palace of Justice in the Beirut suburb of Baabda told AFP.
“About 350 people used to be released from prison every month... that number has now been reduced to about 25,” said the source, adding that most are released after “mediators intervene with the judge handling the case.”
About 13 inmates who completed their sentences two and a half months ago have been stuck in the Palace of Justice’s cells because criminal courts have not met to sign off their release, he added.
A judicial source who declined to be named said detainees were bearing the brunt of the strike’s knock-on effects.
“Judges have a right to a decent life,” he said, but “detainees are also suffering from injustice, even those whose only crime was stealing a loaf of bread.”


Kuwait slams Israeli actions in Palestine

Kuwait slams Israeli actions in Palestine
Updated 08 December 2022

Kuwait slams Israeli actions in Palestine

Kuwait slams Israeli actions in Palestine
  • Diplomat Abdulaziz Amash warns UN of rise in settlement expansion, home demolitions

NEW YORK: Kuwait has criticized Israel’s actions in Palestine during a UN General Assembly session, warning that Palestinians are unable to exercise their basic human rights.
Kuwaiti councilor Abdulaziz Amash said that occupation forces have continued their unjust blockade of the Gaza Strip and violence against unarmed civilians, Kuwait News Agency reported on Thursday.
The Kuwaiti diplomat was addressing the UN General Assembly during a discussion titled “Strengthening the coordination of humanitarian assistance and relief aid provided by the UN in cases of disasters, including special economic assistance.”
He highlighted a report to the UN secretary-general that recorded the number of violations committed by Israel, including settlement expansion, demolition of houses, forced evictions and restrictions on access and movement.
Amash added that the world is witnessing increase in natural and human-made disasters, which has increased the burden on the UN as a result of difficult humanitarian and economic repercussions.
Kuwait reaffirmed the importance of strengthening and coordinating humanitarian aid and relief assistance provided by the UN in cases of disasters and crises, he added.
Amash praised the role of the UN’s agencies and partners as well as staff in supporting and coordinating humanitarian and relief aid around the world.
 


Protests in Sudan demand army leave power, reject deal

Protests in Sudan demand army leave power, reject deal
Updated 08 December 2022

Protests in Sudan demand army leave power, reject deal

Protests in Sudan demand army leave power, reject deal
  • Sudan has been in turmoil since an uprising overthrew its longtime autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir
  • In Khartoum, demonstrators headed for the Republican Palace before being intercepted by security forces who fired tear gas and water hoses at the crowds

KHARTOUM: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Sudan’s capital Thursday, demanding the ouster of its military rulers and rejecting a deal for the gradual transfer of power to civilian leaders.
Sudan has been in turmoil since an uprising overthrew its longtime autocratic ruler Omar Al-Bashir. A military coup in October 2021 abruptly ended a previous democratic transition agreement with protest leaders.
In Khartoum, demonstrators headed for the Republican Palace, the seat of the ruling military council, before being intercepted by security forces who fired tear gas and water hoses at the crowds. There are no confirmed reports of any casualties.
Thursday’s protest was led by the Resistance Committees, a grassroots group that has steadfastly rejected any negotiations with Sudan’s military leaders, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. The protest group has called for both men, who led last year’s coup, to be tried in court.
On Monday, the two military leaders signed a ‘‘framework agreement” with Sudan’s main pro-democracy group, the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change. But the agreement appears to offer only the vaguest outlines for how the country will resume its road to democracy. Various other political parties and organizations also signed the deal.
The Resistance Committees’ are one of a number of significant political players who have rejected the new agreement. Several former rebel leaders, who have formed their own political bloc, also boycotted the deal.
The agreement between military and civilian leaders also avoided sensitive political issues concerning transitional justice and reforming the military, a policy that promises to see various armed factions within Sudan integrate into one fighting force.
Another uncertainty is how the agreement would balance power between a new civilian government and the military. According to the deal, a reformed military will form part of a “security and defense council” overseen by a new prime minister. However, commentators have cast doubt on whether the military will properly follow through on this pledge.
Further negotiations for a more inclusive agreement are expected.
The United Nations and the US have brokered months of cross-party negotiations in Sudan, along with several other international actors. Both actors have acknowledged the fragility of the agreement and called for further talks.
On Wednesday the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken threatened to impose a travel ban on any Sudanese figures who try to derail the democratic transition.