Houthis will always threaten Red Sea even if Gaza war ends, says Al-Alimi

Members of Houthi-affiliated security forces hold a portrait of the militia’s leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi as people march in Sanaa on February 16, 2024. (AFP)
Members of Houthi-affiliated security forces hold a portrait of the militia’s leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi as people march in Sanaa on February 16, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 18 February 2024
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Houthis will always threaten Red Sea even if Gaza war ends, says Al-Alimi

Members of Houthi-affiliated security forces hold a portrait of the militia’s leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi.
  • Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Rashad Al-Alimi said the only way to remove the danger was through military operations

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia would continue to ensure conflict in the Red Sea even if the Israel-Hamas war ended, according to the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Rashad Al-Alimi said the only way to remove the danger was through military operations.

He said current strikes by the US and UK would not deter Houthi threats, but vowed to defeat the organization and end its attacks if his government received international backing and Iran was pressured to end its military support.

“To put an end to this Houthi piracy, we must address the threat’s origins and source; this can only be accomplished by restoring state institutions, putting an end to the coup and applying maximum pressure on the Iranian regime,” the Yemeni leader said. 

Since the Houthis began the Red Sea strikes in November, Yemen’s government has sought international assistance to evict them from Yemeni territories under their control. Al-Alimi warned that if they were not destroyed, they would use the Red Sea as a negotiating chip. He blamed Iran for financing the Houthi assaults as well as Yemen’s instability.

“As long as Iran continues to back this militia and provide weapons to it, it will continue to pose a danger to Red Sea shipping and may blackmail other regions in the future,” said the Yemeni leader. 

The Houthis have launched hundreds of drones and missiles against commercial and naval ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab, and the Gulf of Aden over the past four months. The organization claims to exclusively strike ships linked to or destined for Israel, forcing the country to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the besieged Gaza Strip. In response to the assaults the US, supported by several partners, has carried out dozens of strikes on military installations, drone and missile launchers, and other sites in Houthi-controlled Yemen.

Similarly, Yemen’s information minister, Moammar Al-Eryani, said he had sent letters to the CEOs of key social media firms requesting that accounts for Houthi officials and the militia’s media propaganda material be deleted from their platforms.

Posting on X, the Yemeni minister sent letters bearing his stamp and signature to the platform’s leaders, as well as those of Facebook, TikTok, Telegram and Instagram, urging them to comply with the US designation of the Houthis as terrorists. “We confirmed that Houthi militia pages on social media platforms, whether official or affiliated with individuals (leaders, media figures, activists), are spreading terrorist ideas, promoting hate speech, inciting violence and murder and brainwashing children and recruiting them,” Al-Eryani said. 

Meanwhile, Yemen’s embassy in Cairo said on Sunday that Brigadier General Hassan Farhan Al-Obeidi, the head of the Yemen army’s military production department, had been discovered dead from stab wounds. Egyptian officials are investigating.

Baligh Al-Mekhlafi, information counselor, told Arab News the embassy had received an alert about Al-Obeidi’s death shortly before 2 a.m. The Yemeni officer had arrived in Cairo 20 days earlier, traveling to Turkiye before returning to Egypt a week ago.

“We will share any fresh information that we get on the case,” Al-Mekhlafi said. 

Al-Obeidi has been regarded as a military specialist in the production of local armored vehicles and weaponry since the days of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. When the Houthis seized power in late 2014, he joined anti-Houthi forces and participated in military action against them in Marib, his home province.


Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare
Updated 4 sec ago
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Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare
  • “This official visit occurs at a delicate and sensitive time in the relations with the US, as well as in the context of regional conditions and the ongoing crimes against innocents in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from Al-Sudani’s office said

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani left Baghdad on Saturday for the US, his office said, where he will meet with the US president as regional tensions flare.
US President Joe Biden is due to receive the Iraqi leader on Monday to “coordinate on common priorities” and discuss the “evolution of the military mission” of the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria, according to the White House.
The trip comes after Iran threatened to retaliate for deadly strikes, blamed on Israel, on its consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Biden has said he expects Tehran to take action “sooner rather than later.”

BACKGROUND

President Joe Biden is due to receive the Iraqi leader on Monday to ‘coordinate on common priorities’ and discuss the ‘evolution of the military mission’ of the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria, according to the White House.

“This official visit occurs at a delicate and sensitive time in the relations with the United States, as well as in the context of regional conditions and the ongoing crimes against innocents in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from Al-Sudani’s office said.
The surging tensions come against the backdrop of the six-month war waged by Israel against Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza.
The conflict has since drawn in regional actors, including Iran-backed groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
Al-Sudani’s office added that the “meeting with President Biden will discuss the regional issues and the current escalations, focusing on the joint efforts to promote calm and prevent the conflict from widening, which could impact global stability.”
After the war in Gaza erupted, armed groups linked to Iran carried out a slew of attacks across the region on US soldiers deployed to the Middle East with the anti-Daesh coalition in support of Palestinians.
Washington has responded by striking several factions.
But calm has largely returned, and tensions have subsided between the US and Iraq, which have resumed talks on the future of the anti-Daesh coalition.
Iraqi authorities have voiced hope for drawing up a timeline to reduce the presence of US forces.
The talks aim to establish “a timeline to end the coalition’s mission and transition to bilateral relations with the coalition member states,” Al-Sudani’s office added on Saturday.
A State Department official, quoted on their website, said the US hopes the talks will also “focus on energy, water, business investment — US businesses investing in Iraq — and we want to talk about the private sector and the banking reforms that we have been working on.”

 


Israel closes schools over security concerns: army

Israel closes schools over security concerns: army
Updated 7 min 24 sec ago
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Israel closes schools over security concerns: army

Israel closes schools over security concerns: army
  • There will be “no educational activities” when the school week begins on Sunday
  • The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines

JERUSALEM: Israel is closing schools nationwide over security concerns, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Saturday, after Iran threated to retaliate for a deadly air strike on its Damascus consulate.
There will be “no educational activities” when the school week begins on Sunday “in light of the security situation,” he said in a televised statement.
The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines.
Iran has vowed retaliation after the presumed Israeli strike on April 1 which levelled its consulate in Damascus, killing seven members of the Revolutionary Guards including two generals.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he expected Iran to retaliate “sooner (rather) than later.”
Earlier on Saturday Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a container ship “related to the Zionist regime (Israel)” near the Strait of Hormuz, state media reported.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz postponed a planned visit to Hungary and Austria which had been scheduled to begin on Sunday “due to the security situation,” his spokesman said.


Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank

Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank
Updated 10 min 21 sec ago
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Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank

Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank
  • Mohammed Mustafa says the assaults ‘will not discourage our people from standing on their land’

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa has condemned attacks by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

“The attacks of the settlers will not discourage our people from standing on their land,” he said, as attacks on Palestinian villages intensified following the death of an Israeli teenager near Ramallah.
The disappearance of 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair sparked attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian villages on Friday and Saturday.
Israel’s army said the boy’s body was found in the West Bank as violence escalated across the Israeli-occupied territory where tensions have simmered for months.

FASTFACT

The international community considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.

On Friday, one Palestinian was killed, and 25 others were wounded in the attack on Al-Mughayyir village, Palestinian health officials said.
On Saturday, Israeli troops delayed for several hours the ambulance carrying the 26-year-old man’s body for burial, witnesses said.
Dozens of Israeli settlers returned to the village’s outskirts on Saturday, burning 12 homes and several cars.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said three people from the village were injured, one critically.
Border police fired tear gas toward villagers who gathered, trying to disperse them.
In the nearby village of Douma, Israeli settlers set fire to several homes, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were injured by gunfire but did not say who fired.
Tensions in the West Bank have been especially high since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in nearby Gaza on Oct. 7. More than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s offensive, according to Gaza health officials.
Hamas, since then, has been trying to ignite other fronts, including in the West Bank, in hopes of exerting more pressure on Israel.
Such efforts have largely failed, though more than 460 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since Oct. 7, most in clashes sparked by army raids but some by vigilante settlers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing of the Israeli teen.
According to Israeli media, the teen was last seen leaving the settler outpost of Malachei Shalom early on Friday to tend to livestock nearby. The sheep returned to the outpost hours later without him, reports said.
Israel’s Channel 13 TV reported that a drone discovered Achimair’s body.
The broadcaster said he was not shot but did not elaborate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the killing “We will get to the murderers and their helpers as we do to anyone who harms the citizens of the state of Israel,” he said in a statement issued by his office.
In 2014, the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank escalated tensions.
Eventually, they ignited a 50-day Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, at the time the deadliest round of fighting between the two sides.
Consecutive Israeli governments have expanded Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories the Palestinians seek for a future state, along with Gaza.
Some are highly developed and resemble suburbs of Israeli cities, while smaller outposts often have only a few caravans.
While Israel has established scores of settlements across the occupied West Bank, the outposts are not authorized, though the government gives them tacit support.
The international community considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.
Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem — territories captured by Israel in 1967.

 


In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war

In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war
Updated 13 April 2024
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In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war

In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war
  • Like most Iranians, Maryam has been following the news about a stand-off between Iran and Israel since a strike hit Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1
  • The attack, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, killed seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, including two generals

TEHRAN: After three days off, people in Tehran returned to work as normal on Saturday, but with a lingering cloud of concern that soaring tensions between Iran and its arch foe Israel could tip over into war.
“I don’t know who is at fault and who is not, but it is better to reach a compromise so that the war does not begin, and innocent people don’t die,” said Maryam, a 43-year-old private sector worker.
Like most Iranians, Maryam has been following the news about a stand-off between Iran and Israel since a strike hit Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1.
The attack, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, killed seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, including two generals.
Iran has since vowed to punish Israel for the attack, without specifying how.
The United States and other nations have urged restraint.
Ties frayed further on Saturday, when Iran seized an Israeli-linked ship in the Gulf.
Israel then issued a warning that Iran would “bear the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”
The Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh said on Saturday that “the longer Tehran’s response is delayed, the more it has negative consequences on the country’s economy and intensifies concerns in society.”
This uncertainty has weighed on the return to school for students after the long holidays that follow the Iranian New Year, celebrated on March 31 — as well as the end of Ramadan.
“God willing, our government will favor reason over emotion,” said Salehi, a 75-year-old retired government employee in central Tehran.
“If that is the case, there should be no conflict,” he told AFP.
But other Tehran residents would like the government to have a stronger response than was seen after previous killings of Iranian soldiers blamed on Israel.
“This time we must respond to it with more seriousness and determination,” said Yusof, a 37-year-old private sector employee.
Ehsan, a 43-year-old university professor, said it was “logical” to retaliate, because the Israelis “attacked an Iranian diplomatic building” in Syria’s capital Damascus.
“War is always bad and worrying — a person who has experienced war would never support it, but sometimes to achieve peace, a war is necessary,” he added.
Ahmad Zeidabadi, an expert in international relations, said “it seems that the authorities have not yet made a final decision, as it will probably have serious consequences.”
Tehran has to also take into account any response’s impact on public opinion, which appears to currently be more concerned about economic difficulties than by the war in Gaza, he said.
“The possibility of war worries business leaders, in particular those who depend on the rate of foreign currencies,” Zeidabadi told AFP.
“Some of them fear that it will cause a shortage of food.”
In a sign of these fears, Iran’s rial has plunged to a historic low of around 650,000 to the US dollar on the black market.
The government also faces “a dilemma” on a strategic level, said Ali Bigdeli, an academic specializing in international affairs.
“Israel’s attack can drag Iran to the edge of an unwanted war,” Bigdeli told the reformist newspaper Ham Mihan.
“Entering the war and attacking Israel from Iran’s territory is in the interest of Israel,” he said.
It could offer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a justification for the Gaza war, and will end the Gaza war in the shadow of the war with Iran,” he added.
Former Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari said that Tehran “should choose the least costly and at the same time most profitable option to respond to Israel.”
“The most legitimate target for an Iranian strike would be Israel’s security and military installations in the territories occupied since 1967, particularly in the Golan Heights,” he said.


Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks

Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks
Updated 13 April 2024
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Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks

Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks
  • The Israeli army said that it struck “an extensive Hezbollah military complex in Jabal Al-Rihane”
  • Israeli airstrikes also targeted the Iqlim Al-Tuffah area, north of the Litani River, but there were no casualties

BEIRUT: Israel launched a series of airstrikes on Lebanese border towns on Saturday, a day after Hezbollah targeted Israeli military sites with dozens of Katyusha rockets.
Israeli strikes targeted the Aaramta and Al-Rihane Heights in the Jezzine area.
The Israeli army said that it struck “an extensive Hezbollah military complex in Jabal Al-Rihane.”
Early on Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit the towns of Taybeh, Odaisseh, the outskirts of Hula, and the area between Ramya and Beit Lif in the Bint Jbeil district, destroying a three-story residential building.
Israeli airstrikes also targeted the Iqlim Al-Tuffah area, north of the Litani River, but there were no casualties.
The Majidiya Plain-GHajjar axis, the outskirts of the town of Mari in the Hasbaya District, the Arqoub-Hasbaya area, and the occupied Shebaa Farms were also hit.
Israeli surveillance aircraft continued to fly over the region.
Hezbollah said on Friday that it launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at Israeli artillery positions in response to attacks on southern villages and civilian homes.
The militant group also said it targeted the Ramot Naftali base in northern Israel with assault drones.
According to the Israeli army, about 40 rockets were launched from Lebanese territory, but most were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and there were no reports of injuries.
Two Hezbollah assault drones had also been intercepted on Friday, it said.
Sunday marks 190 days since the outbreak of hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli army on the southern Lebanese border.
At least 274 Hezbollah fighters have been killed, with the group refusing to disclose the number of wounded.
Late on Friday, the group launched a series of attacks on Israeli military locations, including the Miskaf General site, Israeli artillery positions in Zaoura, the Ruwaizat Al-Alam site in the Lebanese Kfarchouba Hills, Al-Marj, Al-Samaka site in the Kfarchouba Hills, and Karantina Hill.
After inspecting damage in areas in the eastern sector and the Blue Line, UNIFIL commander Gen. Aroldo Lazaro said that “a political and diplomatic solution is the only possible way,” and called on all parties “to stop hostile actions so that people can return and rebuild.”
Hezbollah MP Ihab Hamadeh said: “So long as the Israeli aggression against Gaza continues, the resistance front in Lebanon is open against the Israelis, and the work and performance of the resistance are a fortress and protection for Lebanon.”