Houthi attacks in Red Sea derailing Yemen peace efforts, says US envoy

Special Houthi attacks in Red Sea derailing Yemen peace efforts, says US envoy
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Houthi militants board the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea, off Hodeidah, Yemen, Nov. 20, 2023. (Screengrab/Getty Images)
Special Houthi attacks in Red Sea derailing Yemen peace efforts, says US envoy
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A Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighter mans a mounted gun in the back of a pick-up truck, Aden, Yemen, Apr. 26, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 April 2024
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Houthi attacks in Red Sea derailing Yemen peace efforts, says US envoy

Houthi attacks in Red Sea derailing Yemen peace efforts, says US envoy
  • Tim Lenderking says the strikes are also ‘complicating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Yemenis and others in need, including the Palestinian people’
  • Meanwhile, at least 12 Yemeni government soldiers are killed and 12 wounded during Houthi attack in southern Yemeni province of Lahj

AL-MUKALLA: Attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea have hindered the progress of peace talks to end the war in Yemen, and impeded the delivery of crucial humanitarian support to countries dependent on aid, including Yemen itself and Palestine, a leading US official said on Wednesday.

Speaking after visits for talks to Saudi Arabia and Oman, Tim Lenderking, Washington’s special envoy for Yemen, said retaliatory strikes against Houthi targets by a US-led coalition have hampered the militia’s ability to attack international shipping.

“The Houthis must immediately halt their attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden because they are undermining progress on the Yemen peace process and complicating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Yemenis and others in need, including the Palestinian people,” he said.

He praised the efforts of the US-led coalition ability to maintain security of Red Sea shipping lanes by minimizing the Houthi attacks, but said that a political settlement is needed to alleviate tensions.

“We favor a diplomatic solution, we know that there is no military solution,” Lenderking added.

For several months, the Houthis have been targeting commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden with drones, ballistic missiles and remote-controlled boats. They say their actions are in support of the people of Palestine during the war in Gaza, and that they are only targeting ships bound for, or with connections to, Israel in an attempt to force authorities in the country to allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

Lenderking described the attacks in the Red Sea as an “act of terrorism” and accused Iran of supporting them by providing the Houthis with weapons, financing and information. In January, Washington placing the Houthis back onto its list of terrorist organizations to put pressure on the group to halt their attacks on international maritime traffic. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had removed them from the list in February 2021.

Although there has been a significant decline in Houthi attacks on shipping over the past week, the militia’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, on Wednesday repeated his pledge that the strikes would continue until Israel lifts its siege of Gaza.

“Our people are targeting the Israeli enemy and preventing them from crossing and navigating the Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean,” he said during a televised speech.

The Houthis have not claimed responsibility for any attacks on ships, or drone or missiles strikes against Israel, since March 26, despite repeated alerts from the US Central Command and US marine agencies about incidents in the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, at least 12 Yemeni government soldiers were killed and 12 wounded on Wednesday morning when the Houthis attacked their position in the southern Yemeni province of Lahj. It was the latest in a series of deadly attacks on government forces in Lahj, Dhale and Abyan.

An official from the Yemeni military in Aden told Arab News that forces loyal to the Southern Transitional Council in the Kirsh region of Lahj came under heavy artillery fire shortly before 1 a.m. on Wednesday, before the Houthis launched a ground assault that resulted in heavy fighting that left dozens dead or wounded on both sides.

“The Houthis used a variety of military tactics in their attack, including heavy cover fire,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. “They failed to make any gains on the ground and our soldiers were able to push them back.”

The attack on Wednesday raised the total number of deaths caused by Houthi attacks on pro-independence southerners to 20 in 10 days, following previous assaults in Dhale, Lahj and Abyan in which eight separatists were killed.


Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon
Updated 9 sec ago
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Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon
  • Injuries as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border

JERUSALEM: Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory, an Israeli military official said on Monday.
Earlier, the military said four soldiers were injured overnight, one severely, as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border and that the incident was under review.


US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says
Updated 13 min 33 sec ago
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US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says
  • Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile with no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships

DUBAI: The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday its forces destroyed four uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on April 14, acting in self-defense.
CENTCOM added in a Red Sea update that Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile toward the Gulf of Aden from a Houthi controlled area in Yemen on Saturday and that there were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships.


Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’
Updated 24 min 56 sec ago
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Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’
  • MSC leases ship from Gortal Shipping, affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer

DUBAI: A Portuguese-flagged container ship, the MSC Aries, was seized by Iran on April 13 for “violating maritime laws,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday, adding that there was no doubt the vessel was linked to Israel.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.
“The vessel was diverted into Iran’s territorial waters as a result of violating maritime laws and not answering calls made by Iranian authorities,” spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.
Iran launched a barrage of missiles and explosive drones on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a strike that Tehran said was self-defense after the bombing of the consulate.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded the MSC Aries and taken it into Iranian waters.
MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.
MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.
Tensions have soared across the Middle East since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
In response to reports of the seizure, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the leading seafarers’ union, said that “innocent seafarers must be protected from escalating conflicts they have no role in instigating, nor power to resolve.”
The International Chamber of Shipping called the seizure a “flagrant breach of international law and an assault on freedom of navigation.”
Recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have also affected the global maritime transport chain, as well as trade and port activities in and around the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, said the seizure of the MSC Aries “has the potential to further disrupt cargo transits in and out of the region, which will impact all of our member ports, one way or another.”


Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza
Updated 53 min 47 sec ago
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Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza
  • Palestinian detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom border crossing into Rafah in southern Gaza Strip

GAZA: Israeli authorities released on Monday morning 150 Palestinian detainees who had been arrested in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

The detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom, a crossing on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, into Rafah in southern Gaza, according to an Arab News reporter in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Among the released detainees is Sufian Abu Salah, who told local reporters he was arrested “perfectly healthy” and “walking on both legs” but has had his left leg amputated in detention due to torture and neglect.

A video circulated on social media showed Abu Salah skipping on one leg with the support of a wooden stick he used as a crutch.

He told local journalists that while in detention, his foot became infected but Israeli soldiers refused to send him to a hospital. Within seven days, the infection had spread, and he had his leg amputated.

Abu Salah lost his leg due to torture followed by medical neglect in detention. (Supplied)

An internal UN report compiled last month by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees described widespread abuses of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

Methods of abuse include “physical beatings, forced stress positions for extended periods of time, threats of harm to detainees and their families, attacks by dogs, insults to personal dignity and humiliation such as being made to act like animals or getting urinated on, use of loud music and noises, deprivation of water, food, sleep and toilets, denial of the right to practice their religion (to pray) and prolonged use of tightly locked handcuffs causing open wounds and friction injuries,” according to the UNRWA report.  

“The beatings included blunt force trauma to the head, shoulders, kidneys, neck, back and legs with metal bars and the butts of guns and boots, in some cases resulting in broken ribs, separated shoulders and lasting injuries.”

The prisoners released on Monday also include a child and a doctor. 

According to UN figures, Israeli authorities have arrested at least 4,000 Palestinians, including women and children, since the onset of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza on October 7, which was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel.


Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister
Updated 15 April 2024
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Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister
  • Kuwaiti Emir also tasks the new prime minister to form a government

DUBAI: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has appointed Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister, state news agency KUNA reported on Monday.

The Kuwaiti ruler also tasked the new prime minister to form a government.

The Kuwaiti ruler last week accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, after elections were held to choose new members of the National Assembly.

He also instructed the cabinet to act as caretakers until the formation of a new government.