Yemen’s Houthi militia ‘ready for peace’ with Saudi Arabia

Hussein al-Ezzi, deputy foreign minister in the Houthi-led government, addresses a news conference in Sanaa, Yemen February 5, 2024. (REUTERS)
Hussein al-Ezzi, deputy foreign minister in the Houthi-led government, addresses a news conference in Sanaa, Yemen February 5, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 05 February 2024
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Yemen’s Houthi militia ‘ready for peace’ with Saudi Arabia

Yemen’s Houthi militia ‘ready for peace’ with Saudi Arabia
  • “America is the one assaulting us, and it will not escape retribution, and we will never remain mute about the aggression against our nation, and it will have no impact on our stance toward Gaza and Palestine”

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia is ready to make peace with Saudi Arabia, the groups’ deputy foreign minister said on Monday, accusing the US of obstructing efforts to reach a settlement.

Speaking to reporters in Sanaa, Hussein Al-Ezzi expressed “special gratitude” to Saudi Arabia for its unwillingness to join US-UK strikes on Yemen, adding that the militia is “eager” to enter peace negotiations with the Kingdom.

“Sanaa is prepared for peace with Riyadh despite the challenges posed by the US and its associated Yemeni groups,” Al-Ezzi said.

The US and UK have carried out about 300 strikes in Yemen since Jan. 12, the official said, threatening to make the US pay a “heavy price” for the attacks. “America is the one assaulting us, and it will not escape retribution, and we will never remain mute about the aggression against our nation, and it will have no impact on our stance toward Gaza and Palestine.”

Since November, the Houthis have seized a commercial ship and launched dozens of missiles and drones at civilian as well as military vessels in the Red Sea. Al-Ezzi said that the militia, in a show of support to Palestine, only targets Israel-linked ships or vessels on their way to the country.

US and UK military and commercial ships were added to the militia’s list of targets after the two countries launched strikes on Yemen, he added.

The Houthi warning to strike US and UK ships came as Houthi media and Yemenis in the Houthi-controlled western province of Hodeidah reported explosions on Sunday night when jets struck targets in the Ras Isa, Al-Zaydiyah and Al-Hawak districts. On Monday afternoon, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel claimed that the US and UK forces conducted attacks on Hodeidah’s Al-Katheeb area.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s internationally recognized government said that UN pressure to end its offensive on Hodeidah city in 2018 had led to the escalating Houthi violence on the Red Sea since last year.

Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani on Sunday blamed the UN and its former Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, for pressuring the Yemeni government to abandon its military offensive on the Houthi-controlled port city and sign the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement.

Government forces controlled Hodeidah’s airport, as well as the city’s southern and eastern entrances, and were only a few kilometers from the city’s port before the UN urged an end to the offensive, he added.

At the time, the UN warned that conflict in Hodeidah would halt the supply of 70 percent of the country’s humanitarian aid and other essential items through the city’s port.

“The entire world is paying the price for ignoring government warnings about the dangers of allowing the Iranian regime and its arms in the region, most notably the Houthi militia, to control the city of Hodeidah and its ports,” Al-Eryani said, according to the SABA news agency.

 


Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine

Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine
Updated 22 April 2024
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Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine

Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine
  • Aboul Gheit met Albanese at the headquarters of the Arab League General Secretariat in Cairo
  • Discussion centered on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, given continued Israeli violations against the civilian population

CAIRO: Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese discussed the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

Aboul Gheit met Albanese at the headquarters of the Arab League General Secretariat in Cairo.

The discussion centered on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, given continued Israeli violations against the civilian population over the past several months.

Albanese is the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Gamal Roshdy, the secretary-general’s spokesperson, conveyed Aboul Gheit’s commendation for the special rapporteur’s work and her courageous stance as a global conscience amid the “silence and indifference of many nations toward the atrocities committed by the occupying forces, which constitute acts of genocide.”

Roshdy quoted Aboul Gheit as affirming during the meeting that Israeli crimes could not be justified as mistakes or collateral damage from military operations.

“They are deliberate acts aimed at collectively punishing the population and depriving Palestinians of their fundamental right to live on their land.”

Aboul Gheit expressed his solidarity with Albanese in the face of incitement campaigns and accusations of antisemitism against her.

He said that the motives behind these campaigns were clear, highlighting Israel’s efforts to silence any independent voices that exposed the reality of the civilian massacre unfolding in the Gaza Strip. 

He said that Israel engaged in character assassination against individuals who revealed its falsehoods and deception to global public opinion.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Albanese discussed the condition of human rights and Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories on Sunday.

Shoukry received Albanese in Cairo, where they called for an immediate end to Israeli attacks on Gaza in compliance with international laws and demanded the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.


Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says

Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says
Updated 22 April 2024
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Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says

Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says

BAGHDAD: US forces stationed at Iraq’s Ain Al-Asad air base were targeted in an armed drone attack that caused no damage or casualties, a US official said, in the second attack on US troops in the region in less than 24 hours.
The attacks follow a near-three month pause in the targeting of US forces in Iraq and Syria after months of near-daily rocket and drone strikes by Iran-backed Shiite Muslim armed factions over US backing of Israel’s Gaza campaign.


Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds

Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds
Updated 22 April 2024
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Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds

Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds
  • The report said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its claim that a significant number of UNRWA staff were members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad

LONDON: Israel has not provided evidence to support claims that staff members of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, an independent review led by the former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna revealed.

The Colonna review, drafted with the assistance of three Nordic research institutes, underscores the lack of substantiation for broader allegations made by Israel in March, accusing numerous UNRWA employees of affiliating with Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Major donors cut their funding to the agency in January, which is the primary source of humanitarian aid not only to Gaza but also to Palestinian refugees throughout the region, following Israel’s allegations.

This was despite the critical circumstances of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, the majority of whom have been displaced by Israel’s war since Oct. 7 and are struggling to access water, food, shelter, or medical care.

The report found that UNRWA has consistently supplied employee lists to Israel for vetting and that “the Israeli government has not informed Unrwa of any concerns relating to any Unrwa staff based on these staff lists since 2011.”

A more detailed assessment was sent to the UN by the three Nordic research bodies — the Swedish-based Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the Norwegian Chr Michelsen Institute, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

“Israeli authorities have to date not provided any supporting evidence nor responded to letters from Unrwa in March, and again in April, requesting the names and supporting evidence that would enable Unrwa to open an investigation,” the report stated.

The Colonna report deemed UNRWA indispensable for providing essential humanitarian aid and services, the Guardian reported.

“In the absence of a political solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Unrwa remains pivotal in providing life-saving humanitarian aid and essential social services, particularly in health and education, to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank,” it said.

“As such, Unrwa is irreplaceable and indispensable to Palestinians’ human and economic development. In addition, many view Unrwa as a humanitarian lifeline.”

The Colonna review proposes several enhancements to neutrality safeguards for UNRWA’s staff of over 32,000, including expanding the internal oversight service, increasing in-person training, and boosting support from donor countries. However, it acknowledges that UNRWA’s current measures are already more stringent than those of many similar organizations.

“The review revealed that Unrwa has established a significant number of mechanisms and procedures to ensure compliance with the humanitarian principles, with emphasis on the principle of neutrality and that it possesses a more developed approach to neutrality than other similar UN or NGO entities,” it said

One common criticism from Israel is that UNRWA schools throughout the region use Palestinian Authority textbooks containing antisemitic content, the Guardian reported. However, the technical report by the Nordic institutions found little evidence to support these allegations.

“Three international assessments of PA textbooks in recent years have provided a nuanced picture,” the report said. “Two identified presence of bias and antagonistic content, but did not provide evidence of antisemitic content. The third assessment, by the (German-based) Georg Eckert Institute, studied 156 PA textbooks and identified two examples that it found to display antisemitic motifs but noted that one of them had already been removed, the other has been altered.”

The recent resumption of funding by most donor nations, pending the Colonna report, reflects ongoing developments, while US financial support remains permanently banned due to the allegations.

A separate investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services into the Oct. 7 attack continues, the Guardian reported.


Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack
Updated 22 April 2024
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Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack
  • Aharon Haliva becomes the first senior Israeli figure to step down over Hamas’ attack
  • Hamas fighters rampaged through Israeli territories unchallenged, killing 1,200 on Oct. 7

TEL AVIV: The head of Israel’s military intelligence directorate resigned on Monday over the failures surrounding Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 attack, the military said, becoming the first senior figure to step down over his role in the deadliest assault in Israel’s history.

Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva’s resignation sets the stage for what’s expected to be more fallout from Israel’s top security brass over Hamas’ attack, when militants blasted through Israel’s border defenses, rampaged through Israeli communities unchallenged for hours and killed 1,200 people, most civilians, while taking roughly 250 hostages into Gaza. That attack set off the war against Hamas in Gaza, now in its seventh month.

The military said in a statement that Haliva had asked to end his service “following his leadership responsibility.” Shortly after the war, Haliva had publicly said that he shouldered blame for not preventing the assault at the head of the military department responsible for providing the government and the military with intelligence warnings and daily alerts.

The military said in the statement that the military chief of staff accepted Haliva’s request to resign and thanked him for his service.

Haliva, as well as other military and security leaders, were widely expected to resign in response to the glaring failures that led up to Oct. 7 and those that made it such a devastating attack.

But the timing of the resignations is unclear because Israel is still fighting Hamas in Gaza and battling the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the north. Tensions with Iran are also at a high following attacks between the two enemies.

While Haliva and others have accepted blame for failing to stop the attack, others have stopped short, most notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he will answer tough questions about his role but has not outright acknowledged any responsibility for allowing the attack to unfold.


Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine

Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine
Updated 22 April 2024
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Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine

Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine
  • Tehran’s nuclear program banned the development of nuclear weapons in a fatwa

DUBAI: Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s nuclear doctrine, the country’s foreign ministry said on Monday, days after a Revolutionary Guards commander warned that Tehran might change its nuclear policy if pressured by Israeli threats.
“Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program only serves peaceful purposes. Nuclear weapons have no place in our nuclear doctrine,” ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said during a press conference in Tehran.
Following a spike in tensions with Israel, the Guards commander in charge of nuclear security Ahmad Haghtalab said last week that Israeli threats could push Tehran to “review its nuclear doctrine and deviate from its previous considerations.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on Tehran’s nuclear program, banned the development of nuclear weapons in a fatwa, or religious decree, in the early 2000s.