Yemeni leader criticizes Iran for arming Houthis with lethal weapons

A Houthi fighter mans a turret in an armoured technical vehicle in Sanaa. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 February 2023
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Yemeni leader criticizes Iran for arming Houthis with lethal weapons

  • Yemen’s third-largest city has been besieged for the last eight years by the Houthis
  • Militia has blocked major exits after failing to take control of Taiz due to stiff resistance from government forces and resistance fighters

AL-MUKALLA: The chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council on Thursday accused Iran of violating international treaties by delivering lethal weapons to Yemen’s Houthi militia. 

Rashad Al-Alimi told military officials in the city of Aden that Iran has continued to deliver weapons to the Houthis in contravention of a UN Security Council resolution and other international conventions, the official Yemeni news agency SABA reported.

His criticism of Iran followed news that the French navy had seized a shipment of weaponry, including thousands of machine guns and anti-tank missiles, coming from Iran and destined for the Houthis. 

Yemeni governments have accused Iran for years of stoking instability by providing the Houthis with weapons, military expertise, money and media coverage.

Also on Thursday, a delegation of EU diplomats announced the conclusion of their tour of Aden, reaffirmed their support for UN-led peace efforts to end the war, and asked for the UN-brokered truce to be transformed into a more durable peace accord.

They also urged the Yemeni government to implement institutional reforms, enhance public services and restore economic stability.

“The EU Heads of Mission reiterated the European Union’s unflinching support for the work of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, reiterating the call for constructive engagement with his efforts to extend and expand the truce and turn it into a just and inclusive political settlement,” the delegation said in a statement. 

Separately, at least two Yemeni government soldiers and an undetermined number of Houthis were killed in fighting outside the city of Taiz over the previous three days, a Yemeni military official told Arab News on Thursday. 

Abdul Basit Al-Baher said the Houthis had bombarded and targeted government-controlled locations on the ground on almost all of Taiz’s outskirts.

In the last 24 hours, the Houthis deployed military forces on the outskirts and launched explosive-equipped and reconnaissance drones at government soldiers, presumably in preparation for more attacks in the coming days.

“The enemy is desperately attempting to breach the national army’s defensive lines. The national army foiled their attacks and killed and wounded many of them,” Al-Baher said, adding that the most recent Houthi assaults happened in the Kelaba area, in the vicinity of an air-defense facility and close to an abandoned airport to the west and northwest of Taiz.

Yemen’s third-largest city has been besieged for the last eight years by the Houthis, who have blocked its major exits after failing to take control of Taiz due to stiff resistance from government forces and resistance fighters. 

The siege has prevented life-sustaining products and humanitarian aid from reaching locals, and forced civilians to leave and enter the city via rough and perilous routes.

To the dismay of Taiz’s inhabitants, the UN-brokered truce has not resulted in an easing of the Houthi blockade or a cessation of the militia’s lethal drone, mortar and missile strikes on civilian areas.

The truce, which went into force last April, collapsed in October when the Houthis refused to renew it or open roads to Taiz, insisting that the Yemeni government first pay public employees in their regions and split oil earnings before extending the truce.


Iran-backed Hezbollah downs Israeli drone in southern Lebanon

Updated 52 min 50 sec ago
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Iran-backed Hezbollah downs Israeli drone in southern Lebanon

  • Hezbollah said the drone was an Israeli Hermes 450, a multi-payload drone made by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based weapons manufacturer

AMMAN: Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Sunday it downed an Israeli drone that was on a combat mission in southern Lebanon.
The drone that was brought down above the Al Aishiyeh area in southern Lebanon was “waging its attacks on our steadfast people,” a statement said by the group said.
Israeli forces and Lebanon’s armed group Hezbollah have been exchanging fire for over six months in parallel to the Gaza war, in the most serious hostilities since they fought a major war in 2006.
Hezbollah said the drone was an Israeli Hermes 450, a multi-payload drone made by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based weapons manufacturer.
The fighting has fueled concern about the risk of further escalation.
At least 370 Lebanese, including more than 240 Hezbollah fighters and 68 civilians, have been killed in the fighting according to a Reuters tally. Eighteen Israelis, including soldiers and civilians, have been killed on the Israeli side of the border, according to Israeli tallies.

 


UK PM discusses Gaza developments with Jordan’s king

Updated 22 April 2024
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UK PM discusses Gaza developments with Jordan’s king

  • Sunak told the king that the UK’s ultimate goal is to achieve a workable two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sunday made a phone call to Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss developments in the Gaza Strip, 10 Downing Street announced.
During the call, Sunak renewed the UK’s support for Jordan’s security and that of the region, saying a significant escalation is “not in anyone’s interests.”
He added that the UK’s focus remains on finding a solution to the conflict in Gaza.
The UK continues to work toward an immediate humanitarian truce to bring in much larger amounts of aid and return the Israeli hostages held by Hamas safely to their families, “leading to a longer-term sustainable ceasefire,” Sunak said.
The two leaders “discussed joint efforts to significantly step up aid to Gaza, with the UK taking part in Jordanian-led aid drops and a humanitarian land corridor to Gaza, as well as the maritime aid corridor from Cyprus,” Downing Street said.
Sunak told the king that the UK’s ultimate goal is to achieve a workable two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. 
The two leaders “agreed on the importance of supporting a reformed Palestinian authority to deliver stability and prosperity across the Palestinian territories,” Downing Street said.
King Abdullah warned of the danger of regional escalation, which he said threatens international peace and security, Jordan’s official Petra news agency reported.
He renewed his call for the international community to intensify efforts to reach an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza to alleviate the worsening humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged Palestinian territory, and warned of the dangerous consequences of an Israeli assault on Rafah.
The king stressed the need to protect civilians in Gaza and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. 
He pointed to the importance of continuing to support the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees to enable it to provide its humanitarian services in accordance with its UN mandate.


Five rockets fired from Mosul toward US military base inside Syria: security sources

Updated 21 April 2024
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Five rockets fired from Mosul toward US military base inside Syria: security sources

  • Attack comes on same day Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani returned from visit to US

MOSUL: At least five rockets were launched from Iraq’s town of Zummar toward a US military base in northeastern Syria on Sunday, two Iraqi security sources told Reuters.
The attack against US forces is the first since early February when Iranian-backed groups in Iraq stopped their attacks against US troops.
The attack comes on the same day Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani returned from a visit to the US and met with President Joe Biden at the White House.
Two security sources and a senior army officer said a rocket launcher fixed on the back of a small truck had been parked in Zummar border town with Syria.
The military official said the truck caught fire with an explosion from unfired rockets at the same time as warplanes were in the sky.
“We can’t confirm that the truck was bombed by US warplanes unless we investigate it,” said a military official on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident.
The attacks came one day after a huge blast at a military base in Iraq early on Saturday killed a member of an Iraqi security force that includes Iran-backed groups. The force commander said it was an attack while the army said it was investigating and there were no warplanes in the sky at the time.


Israel’s brutal tactics blamed for Palestinians’ financial crisis

Updated 21 April 2024
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Israel’s brutal tactics blamed for Palestinians’ financial crisis

JERUSALEM: The Gaza war is speeding up Israel’s “annexation” of the Palestinian economy, say analysts, who argue it has been hobbled for decades by agreements that followed the Oslo peace accords.

While the Israel-Hamas war raging since Oct. 7 has devastated swaths of Gaza, it has also hit the public finances and wider economy of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel is tightening the noose on the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the West Bank, by withholding tax revenues it collects on its behalf, said economist Adel Samara.

Palestinian livelihoods have also been hurt by bans on laborers crossing into Israel and by a sharp downturn in tourism in the violence-plagued territory, including a quiet Christmas season in Bethlehem.

Samara said that “technically speaking, there is no Palestinian economy under Israeli occupation — Israel has effectively annexed our economy.”

The Palestinian economy is largely governed by the 1994 Paris Protocol, which granted sole control over the territories’ borders to Israel and, with it, the right to collect import duties and value-added tax for the Palestinian Authority.

Israel has repeatedly leveraged this power to deprive the authority of much-needed revenues.

But the Gaza war has further tightened Israel’s grip, Samara said, with the bulk of customs duties withheld since Hamas sparked the war with the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“Without these funds, the Palestinian Authority struggles to pay the salaries of its civil servants and its running costs,” said Taher Al-Labadi, a researcher at the French Institute for the Near East.


UN rapporteur raps Israeli obstruction of field visit to Gaza

Updated 21 April 2024
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UN rapporteur raps Israeli obstruction of field visit to Gaza

  • Shoukry pointed out that the increase in Israeli assaults and illegal settlement practices in the West Bank raises the risk of the conflict erupting in the entirety of the occupied Palestinian territories

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

Shoukry received Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, 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.

They also called for a stop to mounting settler violence in the West Bank, demanding accountability of the perpetrators.

Shoukry pointed out that the increase in Israeli assaults and illegal settlement practices in the West Bank raises the risk of the conflict erupting in the entirety of the occupied Palestinian territories.

He warned of the security repercussions of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which undermines the stability of the broader region.

The foreign minister expressed regret over the reluctance of several countries so far to describe Israeli practices as a flagrant violation of international law.

Shoukry and Albanese discussed the status of human rights and the humanitarian condition of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Shoukry reiterated the need to stop Israel from implementing policies of collective punishment, indiscriminately targeting civilians, and displacing Palestinians from their lands.

The UN rapporteur denounced Israel’s refusal to allow her to conduct a field visit to the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Albanese expressed her deep concern for the catastrophic humanitarian situation Palestinians are experiencing and called on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law as the occupying power.

She also stressed her keenness to continue discussions with Egypt regarding ways to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians.