Houthis fire Sanaa commerce chamber leaders over criticism

The Houthis have dismissed the leaders of Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
The Houthis have dismissed the leaders of Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
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Updated 04 June 2023
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Houthis fire Sanaa commerce chamber leaders over criticism

The Houthis have dismissed the leaders of Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
  • Militia ‘imposed own prices, stole and let goods rot’
  • Iran group accused of wanting their own firms to benefit

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have dismissed the leaders of Sanaa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, days after the chamber issued a strongly worded statement condemning the militia’s harsh measures against the private sector in areas under their control.

Yemeni government officials and local activists said that armed Houthis stormed the chamber building in Sanaa and replaced the chamber’s chief and his deputy with allies.

In a rare recent statement, the Federation of Yemeni Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Sanaa Chamber of Commerce and Industry accused the Houthis of imposing a price list without their consent, preventing traders’ goods from entering the militia’s territories, allowing those goods to rot, and selling them without telling traders.

The two merchant unions also stated that the Houthis shut down businesses without providing any justification and delayed for months the issuance of new business licenses or the renewal of existing licenses.

Some Yemenis claim that the Houthis have never tolerated criticism, and punished the Sanaa chamber leader and his deputy by replacing them with “inexperienced” loyalists. They also assert that chambers of commerce executives are elected by members and not appointed by the state.

The Houthis’ severe policies, according to many Yemenis, are aimed at favoring the militia’s parallel business and trade sectors, warning that a collapse of the private sector in densely populated areas under its control would exacerbate the humanitarian situation and result in people starving.

“This perilous step confirms the Houthi militia’s continued implementation of its plan to destroy the private sector and eliminate commercial houses in areas under its control in favor of companies and investors loyal to it,” Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said in a tweet.

At the same time, Yemen’s Interior Ministry said the Houthis demolished a house belonging to Maj. Gen. Abdullah Yahyia Jaber, the deputy interior minister, in Sanaa’s Geraf neighborhood, the latest in a series of such actions.

Jaber is one of hundreds of Yemeni politicians, officials, military and security officers, journalists, and others who fled Sanaa following the Houthi military takeover in late 2014. The Houthis condemned them in absentia and confiscated their homes and other properties, turning a few into detention facilities, handing some to supporters, and selling others.

The Houthis also blew up the home of Ali Ahmed Al-Hejazi, a pro-government tribal leader in Marib’s Serwah area, over the weekend.

“The group has a lengthy history of murdering, kidnapping, displacing, bombing homes, recruiting children, and kidnapping women, among other crimes,” the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms said in a statement, adding that the Houthis have blown up more than 700 of their opponents’ homes since early 2015.


Arab family of five shot dead as crime rates in Israel soar

Arab family of five shot dead as crime rates in Israel soar
Updated 28 September 2023
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Arab family of five shot dead as crime rates in Israel soar

Arab family of five shot dead as crime rates in Israel soar
  • Arab mayors have accused the government and police of deliberately neglecting their communities and of enabling criminals to act with impunity

JERUSALEM: Five members of an Arab family were shot dead in their home in Israel, police said on Wednesday, in the latest in a wave of crime-related killings in Israel’s Arab communities that has reached a new peak this year.
The shooting of the five, including a woman and two teenagers, in the northern town of Basmat Tab’un followed a separate incident in which a 50-year-old man was killed earlier on Wednesday.
More than 180 Arab citizens in Israel have been killed in crime-related violence since January — a seven-year high — in a spate of killings that have continued unchecked, drawing accusations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government was ignoring the bloodshed.
“Israel has the abilities, the Israeli government understands what needs to be done, everybody understands what needs to be done, there simply is no will and no leadership,” said Mansour Abbas, leader of one of the parties that represent Israel’s Arab minority.
Arab mayors have accused the government and police of deliberately neglecting their communities and of enabling criminals to act with impunity. They have refused to work with the far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has past convictions of support for terrorism and anti-Arab incitement, and have demanded that Netanyahu intervene instead.
With Israel facing its worst political crisis in decades, over Netanyahu’s drive to push through divisive changes to the judiciary, Arab citizens say the collapse of personal safety in their communities must receive more government attention.
Ben-Gvir, who did not immediately comment on Wednesday’s incident, has rejected accusations of inaction. He has said fighting crime is high on his agenda and that police have stepped up crime-busting activity, including the seizure of weapons and funds from criminal groups.
“As police, we will do everything to get to the killers,” police spokesman Eli Levi told reporters at the scene of Wednesday’s crime.
Arab citizens, most of whom are descendants of Palestinians who remained in Israel during the mass exodus of refugees in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, make up about a fifth of the country’s population.
They have for decades faced high poverty rates, poorly funded schools and overcrowded towns lacking services and say they are treated as second-class citizens compared with Jewish Israelis.


Lebanese military court sentences Daesh official to 160 years in prison

Lebanese military court sentences Daesh official to 160 years in prison
Updated 27 September 2023
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Lebanese military court sentences Daesh official to 160 years in prison

Lebanese military court sentences Daesh official to 160 years in prison
  • Imad Yassin, a Palestinian in his 50s, confessed to all 11 charges against him

BEIRUT: Lebanese military court has sentenced an official with the extremist Daesh group to 160 years in prison for carrying out deadly attacks against security forces and planning others targeting government buildings and crowded civilian areas, judicial officials said Wednesday.

The officials said Imad Yassin, a Palestinian in his 50s, confessed to all 11 charges against him, including joining a “terrorist organization,” committing crimes in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El-Hilweh, shooting at Lebanese soldiers, and transporting weapons and munitions for militant groups.

Yassin, also known as Imad Akl, said he was planning several other attacks, including blowing up two main power stations, the headquarters of a major local television station in Beirut, killing a leading politician, as well as planning attacks on hotels north of Beirut, the officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Before joining Daesh, Yassin was a member of other militant groups, including Al-Qaeda-linked Jund Al-Sham, which is still active in Ein El-Hilweh. In later years, he became Daesh’s top official in the camp.

Yassin was detained in Ein El-Hilweh, near the port city of Sidon, six years ago and has been held since. The total 11 sentences that he received count to up to 160 years in prison, the officials said.

The session during which he was sentenced started on Monday night and lasted until the early hours of Tuesday. 

At the height of its rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014, Daesh claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in different parts of Lebanon that left scores of people dead.


Morocco aims to become key player in green hydrogen

Morocco aims to become key player in green hydrogen
Updated 27 September 2023
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Morocco aims to become key player in green hydrogen

Morocco aims to become key player in green hydrogen

RABAT: Morocco has voiced ambitious plans to become North Africa’s top player in the emerging “green hydrogen” sector, with plans to export the clean-burning fuel to Europe.

Hydrogen is seen as a clean energy source that can help the world phase out fossil fuels and reduce atmospheric carbon emissions in the battle to slow global warming.

Morocco, which already runs large solar power plants, also hopes to harness green hydrogen — the kind made without burning fossil fuels — for its sizeable fertilizer sector.

Around 1.5 million acres of public land — nearly the size of Kuwait — have been set aside for green hydrogen and ammonia plants, the economy ministry says.

King Mohammed VI has hailed a national green hydrogen plan dubbed l’Offre Maroc (the Moroccan Offer) and called for its “rapid and qualitative implementation.”

Speaking in July, before the country’s earthquake disaster, he said Morocco must take advantage of “the projects supported by international investors in this promising sector.”

Local media have reported about investment plans by Australian, British, French, German and Indian companies.

Hydrogen can be extracted from water by passing a strong electrical current through it.

This separates the hydrogen from the oxygen, a process called electrolysis.

If the power used is clean — such as solar or wind — the fuel is called “green hydrogen,” which is itself emission-free when burnt.

But there are problems: Hydrogen is highly explosive and hard to store and transport. This has set back hydrogen fuel cell cars in the race against electric vehicles using lithium-ion batteries.

However, experts say green hydrogen also has a big role to play in decarbonizing energy-intensive industries that cannot easily be electrified such as steel, cement and chemicals.

Powering blast furnaces with hydrogen, for example, offers the promise of making “green steel.”

Hydrogen can also be converted into ammonia, to store the energy or as a major input in synthetic fertilizers. Morocco is already a major player in the global fertilizer market, thanks mainly to its immense phosphate reserves.

It profited after fertilizer shortages sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent prices up to 1,000 euros ($1,060) per ton.

Morocco’s state Phosphate Office has announced plans to quickly produce a million tons of “green ammonia” from green hydrogen and triple the amount by 2032.

Analysts caution that Morocco still has some way to go with its ambitious green fertilizer plans.

The sector is “embryonic and the large global projects will not see the light of day until three to five years from now,” said Samir Rachidi, director of the Moroccan research institute IRESEN.

Morocco’s advantage is that it has already bet heavily on clean energy over the past 15 years.

Solar, wind and other clean energy make up 38 percent of production, and the goal is to reach 52 percent by 2030.

For now green hydrogen is more expensive than the highly polluting “brown hydrogen” made using coal or “grey hydrogen” produced from natural gas.

The goal is to keep green hydrogen production below $1-$2 per kilogram, Ahmed Reda Chami, president of the Economic, Social and Environmental Counsel, told the weekly La Vie Eco.


Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians

Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians
Updated 27 September 2023
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Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians

Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians
  • The Shin Bet security service alleged that an Iranian security official living in neighboring Jordan had recruited three Palestinian men in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
  • The targets included National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Yehuda Glick, an American-born far-right Israeli activist

JERUSALEM: Israel arrested five Palestinians in a plot allegedly hatched in Iran to target and spy on senior Israeli politicians, including Israel’s far-right national security minister, the country’s internal security agency said Wednesday.
The Shin Bet security service alleged that an Iranian security official living in neighboring Jordan had recruited three Palestinian men in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another two Palestinian citizens of Israel to gather intelligence about several high-profile Israeli politicians.
The targets included National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — a firebrand Israeli settler leader who oversees the country’s police force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultranationalist government — as well as Yehuda Glick, an American-born far-right Israeli activist and former member of parliament.
The plan was foiled by Israeli intelligence officials, the Shin Bet said, without offering evidence.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
Ben-Gvir, who draws inspiration from a racist rabbi, has provoked outrage across the wider Middle East for his particularly hard-line policies against the Palestinians, anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts and frequent public visits to the holiest and most contested site in the Holy Land. The hilltop compound in Jerusalem, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is at the emotional center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Glick is a leader in a campaign that pushes for increased Jewish access and prayer rights at the sacred Jerusalem compound, the holiest site in Judaism home to ancient biblical Temples. Today, the compound houses the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Since Israel captured the site in 1967, Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there. Glick survived a 2014 Palestinian assassination attempt.
The Shin Bet did not elaborate on the identity of the Iranian official in Jordan who allegedly orchestrated the plot. He is not in custody and apparently remains at large.
But the Shin Bet accused three Palestinian men in the West Bank — identified as 47-year old Murad Kamamaja, 34-year-old Hassan Mujarimah and 45-year-old Ziad Shanti — of gathering intelligence and smuggling weapons into Israel. The security service also said that it charged two Palestinian citizens of Israel over their involvement in the plot. It did not specify how the men planned to target Ben-Gvir and the other politicians.
Ben-Gvir claimed that the Palestinian suspects had conspired to “assassinate a minister in Israel,” without clarifying whether he meant himself or another minister. He thanked Israeli security forces for uncovering and capturing what he called the “terrorist squad.”
Ben-Gvir, who has pushed for harsher treatment for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, also vowed to double down on his hard-line policies in response to the revelations. “I will continue to act fearlessly and even more vigorously for a fundamental change in the conditions of the terrorists’ imprisonment,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Israel has considered Iran to be its greatest enemy since it became a Shiite theocracy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran is a main patron of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which Israel considers the most potent military threat on its borders, and also backs Palestinian Islamist militant groups in the Gaza Strip.


US targets Iran drone procurement network, accuses it of aiding Russia

 The US has accused Tehran of supplying Russia with drones to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. (File/AFP)
The US has accused Tehran of supplying Russia with drones to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 September 2023
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US targets Iran drone procurement network, accuses it of aiding Russia

 The US has accused Tehran of supplying Russia with drones to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. (File/AFP)
  • “Iranian-made UAVs continue to be a key tool for Russia in its attacks in Ukraine, including those that terrorize Ukrainian citizens,” Treasury said

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on a network it said was helping procure sensitive parts for Iran’s drone program, and accused Tehran of supplying Russia with drones to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The network has facilitated shipments and financial transactions in support of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) procurement of a critical component used in Iran’s Shahed-136 drones, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
The move is the latest in a series of recent sanctions on Iran. Wednesday’s action targets entities and individuals in Iran, China, and other countries.
“Iranian-made UAVs continue to be a key tool for Russia in its attacks in Ukraine, including those that terrorize Ukrainian citizens and attack its critical infrastructure,” Treasury official Brian Nelson said in a statement.