US destroys Houthi boats, cruise missiles in Yemen

Houthi tribesmen gather to show defiance after U.S. and UK air strikes on Houthi positions near Sanaa, Yemen February 4, 2024. (Reuters)
Houthi tribesmen gather to show defiance after U.S. and UK air strikes on Houthi positions near Sanaa, Yemen February 4, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 February 2024
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US destroys Houthi boats, cruise missiles in Yemen

US destroys Houthi boats, cruise missiles in Yemen
  • Houthi official media said on Friday that the US and the UK conducted two strikes on Baqoum district in the northern province of Saada

AL-MUKALLA: The US Central Command said on Saturday that it had destroyed numerous Houthi missiles and explosive-laden remotely operated boats in Yemen as the Yemeni militia rejected America’s ultimatum to cease attacks before its decision to redesignate the Houthis as “global terrorists” takes effect on Feb. 16.

CENTCOM said on X that its forces carried out “self-defense strikes” on Friday, targeting two explosive-laden Houthi drone boats, four anti-ship cruise missiles, and one land-attack cruise missile that were ready to launch against US Navy and commercial ships in the Red Sea.

“These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for the US Navy and merchant vessels,” it added.

Houthi official media said on Friday that the US and the UK conducted two strikes on Baqoum district in the northern province of Saada, the militia’s stronghold, but made no mention of any assaults on their naval forces. 

Since Jan. 12, the US and the UK have conducted dozens of strikes on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, targeting radar stations, missile and drone launchers, military sites, ammunition depots, and other locations — attacks that the two countries say are intended to degrade Houthi military power and force the group to stop their attacks in the Red Sea.

The new round of bombings came as the Houthis ignored Washington’s request to end their Red Sea operations by Feb. 16, before the terror-designation decision is due to come into effect.

Stephen Fagin, US ambassador to Yemen, said earlier that the US would remove the Houthis’ terrorist label if the Yemeni militia stopped attacking ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Friday.

“The designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group will take effect Feb. 16, but it can be reviewed if the Houthi militia ceases their activities in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” Fagin said on X.

The Houthis warned they would continue to attack ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab, and the Gulf of Aden, and threatened to expand those attacks if Israel did not lift its blockade on Gaza.

Abdulsalam Jahaf, a member of the Houthi Shoura Council, said on X that if Israel does not end its war in Gaza, or if the US and UK continue to bombard parts of Yemen under their control, they will launch more attacks on ships, adding that the Houthis are not concerned about the US terrorism designation.

“The terrorism card does not (frighten) us, but rather assures us that we are on the right track, and it is a badge of pride,” Jahaf said. 

The Houthis have seized commercial ships and fired dozens of drones and missiles against commercial and naval ships in seas around Yemen, enforcing their ban on any Israeli-linked or Israeli-affiliated ships passing through the Red Sea. The Houthis say that their strikes are intended to force Israel to end its embargo on Gaza.

Asked about the US ambassador’s ultimatum to the Houthis, Elisabeth Kendall, a Middle East expert and mistress of Girton College at Cambridge University, told Arab News that the US knows the Houthis will not stop their attacks before the Feb. 16 deadline, but has set the ultimatum in order to indicate it has exhausted its options before resuming or expanding its military operations.

“It is not in the nature of the Houthi leadership to respond positively to ultimatums. Presumably, the US leadership knows this and is simply issuing an ultimatum so that it can claim that all routes had been tried before continuing or escalating its military operations,” she said.


Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources

Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources
Updated 7 min 54 sec ago
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Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources

Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources
  • Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president
  • A security source in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province told AFP that 11 “terrorists from the Daesh group” were executed by hanging at a prison in Nasiriyah

NASIRIYAH, Iraq: Iraqi authorities have executed at least 11 people convicted of “terrorism” this week, security and health sources said Wednesday, with rights group Amnesty International condemning an “alarming lack of transparency.”
Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president.
A security source in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province told AFP that 11 “terrorists from the Daesh group” were executed by hanging at a prison in the city of Nasiriyah, “under the supervision of a justice ministry team.”
A local medical source confirmed that the health department had received the bodies of 11 executed people.
They were hanged on Monday “under Article 4 of the anti-terrorism law,” the source added, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
All 11 were from Salahaddin province and the bodies of seven had been returned to their families, the medical official said.
Iraqi courts have handed down hundreds of death and life sentences in recent years for people convicted of membership in “a terrorist group,” an offense that carries capital punishment regardless of whether the defendant had been an active fighter.
Iraq has been criticized for trials denounced by rights groups as hasty, with confessions sometimes obtained under torture.
Amnesty in a statement on Wednesday condemned the latest hangings for “overly broad and vague terrorism charges.”
It said a total of 13 men were executed on Monday, including 11 who had been “convicted on the basis of their affiliation to the so-called Daesh armed group.”
The two others, arrested in 2008, “were convicted of terrorism-related offenses under the Penal Code after a grossly unfair trial,” Amnesty said citing their lawyer.


Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’

Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’
Updated 24 April 2024
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Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’

Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’
  • “We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it,” Biden said
  • “Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay“

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Wednesday demanded that new humanitarian aid be allowed to immediately reach Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as key US ally Israel fights Hamas there.
“We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it... including food, medical supplies, clean water,” Biden said after signing a massive military aid bill for Israel and Ukraine, which also included $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza.
“Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay,” he said.
US-Israel relations have been strained by Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send troops into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where 1.5 million people are sheltering, many in makeshift encampments.
“This bill significantly — significantly — increases humanitarian assistance we’re sending to the innocent people of Gaza who are suffering badly,” Biden said.
“They’re suffering the consequences of this war that Hamas started, and we’ve been working intently for months to get as much aid to Gaza as possible.”


Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles

Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles
Updated 24 April 2024
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Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles

Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles
  • Hezbollah targets Israeli settlements in retaliation for Hanin civilian deaths
  • Hezbollah said it attacked the Shomera settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets

BEIRUT: Clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces escalated sharply on Wednesday, the 200th day of conflict in southern Lebanon’s border area.

Israeli airstrikes created a ring of fire around Lebanese border towns, with at least 14 missiles hitting the area.

In the past two days, military activity in the border region has increased, with Hezbollah targeting areas in northern Acre for the first time in the conflict.

On Wednesday, Israeli strikes hit the outskirts of Aita Al-Shaab, Ramya, Jabal Balat, and Khallet Warda.

The Israeli military said it had destroyed a missile launching pad in Tair Harfa, and targeted Hezbollah infrastructure in Marqaba and Aita Al-Shaab.

Israeli artillery also struck areas of Kafar Shuba and Shehin “to eliminate a potential threat.”

Hezbollah also stepped up its operations, saying this was in retaliation for the “horrific massacre committed by the Israeli enemy in the town of Hanin, causing casualties and injuries among innocent civilians.”

A woman in her 50s and a 12-year-old girl, both members of the same family, were killed in the Israeli airstrike. Six other people were injured.

Hezbollah said it attacked the Shomera settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets.

The group said it also targeted Israeli troops in Horsh Natawa, and struck the Al-Raheb site with artillery.

It also claimed to have killed and wounded Israeli soldiers in an attack on the Avivim settlement.

Israeli news outlets said that a rocket-propelled grenade hit a house in the settlement, setting the dwelling ablaze.

Hezbollah’s military media said that in the past 200 days of fighting with Israel, 1,998 operations had been carried out from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, including 1,637 staged by Hezbollah.


Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive

Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive
Updated 24 April 2024
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Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive

Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive
  • Egypt reiterates opposition to any move on Rafah
  • Warnings tell of expected losses and negative repercussions

CAIRO: Egypt has denied any discussions with Israel regarding an offensive in the Palestinian city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, has refuted what has been claimed in one of the major American newspapers: that Egypt has discussed with the Israeli side its plans for an offensive in Rafah.

Rashwan has affirmed the Egyptian stance — announced several times by its political leadership — of complete opposition to the operation, which it is thought will lead to further massacres, massive human losses, and widespread destruction.

He added that Egypt’s repeated warnings have reached the Israeli side, from all channels, since Israel proposed carrying out a military operation in Rafah. These warnings tell of expected losses and the negative repercussions on the stability of the entire region.

Rashwan added that while Israel is contemplating its operation — which Egypt and most of the world and its international institutions stand against — Egyptian efforts since the beginning of the Israeli aggression had focused on reaching a ceasefire agreement and the exchange of prisoners and detainees.

He said Egypt was seeking the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, especially the north and Gaza City, and the evacuation of wounded and sick people for treatment outside the area.

Egypt has repeatedly opposed the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and is warning against any military operation in Rafah.


UAE announces $544m for repairs after record rains

People walk through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters)
People walk through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters)
Updated 24 April 2024
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UAE announces $544m for repairs after record rains

People walk through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters)
  • Wednesday's announcement comes more than a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country
  • “The situation was unprecedented in its severity but we are a country that learns from every experience,” Sheikh Mohammed said

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates announced $544 million to repair the homes of Emirati families on Wednesday after last week’s record rains caused widespread flooding and brought the Gulf state to a standstill.
“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum after a cabinet meeting, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens.”
Wednesday’s announcement comes more than a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country, where it turned streets into rivers and hobbled Dubai airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.
“A ministerial committee was assigned to follow up on this file... and disburse compensation in cooperation with the rest of the federal and local authorities,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, which was one of the worst hit of the UAE’s seven sheikhdoms.
The rainfall was the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago.
Cabinet ministers also formed a second committee to log infrastructure damage and propose solutions, Sheikh Mohammed said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“The situation was unprecedented in its severity but we are a country that learns from every experience,” he said.
The storm, which dumped up to two years’ worth of rain on the UAE, had subsided by last Wednesday.
But Dubai faced severe disruption for days later, with water-clogged roads and flooded homes.
Dubai airport canceled 2,155 flights, diverted 115 and did not return to full capacity until Tuesday.