Third Bahraini soldier dies after Houthi drone attack close to Saudi border

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Updated 27 September 2023
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Third Bahraini soldier dies after Houthi drone attack close to Saudi border

DUBAI: A third Bahraini serviceman died on Wednesday following a Houthi drone attack on Monday against forces of the Saudi-led coalition in Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, Bahrain’s state news agency said.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has battled the Saudi-led coalition since 2015 in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left 80 percent of the population dependent on aid.
The drone attack represents a major escalation after more than a year of relative calm in Yemen as peace efforts gain momentum. It could jeopardize talks between Saudi and Houthi officials who have just held another round of negotiations on a potential agreement toward ending the conflict.


Turkish-Israeli ties to be tested after latest row over Hamas

Updated 30 min ago
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Turkish-Israeli ties to be tested after latest row over Hamas

  • Ankara’s partnership with Palestinians is ideological rather than practical military cooperation, analyst says
  • Bilateral ties have never been immune from global or regional actors, another analyst tells Arab News

ANKARA: Following Israeli security chief Ronen Bar’s pledge to pursue Hamas leaders overseas, all eyes are now on Turkiye to gauge whether this development will further escalate tension in relations between the two countries.

In a recording released by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday, Bar, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet, stated that Israel intends to wipe out Hamas leaders in Qatar, Lebanon, and Turkiye.

“This is our Munich. It will take a few years, but we will be there to do it,” he remarked, alluding to the 1972 attack where Palestinian Black September gunmen killed 11 Israeli Olympic team members during the Munich games.

Israel subsequently carried out retaliatory operations against Black September operatives in different countries over a number of years.

BACKGROUND

Political analyst Gokhan Cinkara believes that Turkiye’s NATO membership and its significant regional power would discourage Israel from making concrete moves on Turkish soil.

The contents of the recording of Bar garnered disapproval in Ankara, with state-run Anadolu Agency reporting that Israeli authorities have been informed of the serious consequences that “illegal operations on Turkish territory would generate.”

The development comes against the trend of diplomatic reconciliation between Turkiye and Israel, based largely on the close collaboration between the intelligence agencies of both nations.

This cooperation successfully prevented several attacks targeting Israeli citizens in Turkiye.

Additionally, Turkiye disclosed that Israeli spy networks had operated in the country, gathering intelligence on resident Palestinians.

Turkiye reportedly requested that all Hamas political leaders leave the country on Oct. 7, following the attack by the group on Israel, although the Turkish presidency refuted this claim.

The Hamas officials who had been residing in Turkiye allegedly arrived there after the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

Top Hamas officials, including Ismail Haniyeh, have also openly visited Turkiye and stayed in Istanbul over the years.

On Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkiye would not tolerate Israeli security operations on its soil and cautioned that it could severely impact bilateral relations.

“If Israel dares to take such a step on Turkish soil, it will pay such a great price that it will not be able to recover from it,” he said.

In recent days, Erdogan harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and labeled him a “war criminal” and “the butcher of Gaza” — remarks that were quickly countered by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who directly addressed the English account of the Turkish presidency, and said: “You are welcome to host in your country Hamas terrorists who aren’t eliminated and flee from Gaza.”

Gokhan Cinkara, political analyst and founder of the Ankara Center for Global Politics, believes Turkiye’s ties with the Hamas leadership resulted from a foreign policy trend shaped during the Arab Spring.

“The success of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections pushed many actors, especially the US, to communicate with them. However, subsequent developments, especially after the exclusion of Al-Fatah in Gaza and the loss of influence of the Arab Spring, led to their exclusion by regional actors,” he told Arab News.

Cinkara thinks that Turkiye’s NATO membership and its significant regional power would discourage Israel from making concrete moves on Turkish soil.

According to Betul Dogan-Akkas, assistant professor of international relations at the department of international relations at Ankara University, Turkish-Israeli ties have fluctuated for decades, and have never been immune from global or regional actors.

“Although Qatar and Turkiye are also mentioned in Bet’s statements, I don’t see this scenario as a realistic or preferable act for Israel. The weakest angle here is Lebanon. Neither Qatar nor Turkiye will keep their reaction low once an Israeli operation on their soil threatens their domestic security,” Dogan-Akkas told Arab News.

“Regarding the situation of Qatar, this could even destroy its mediatorship role and will just push it further into the Palestinian resistance,” she added.

“Regarding the case of Turkiye, we don’t have solid and public information about the names of leaders residing in Istanbul, yet it is a de facto situation that there are Hamas members or political elites from Hamas in Turkiye. These names are not from the military sphere as Turkiye’s partnership with Hamas is based on an ideological level rather than a practical military cooperation, as is the case with Iran,” Dogan-Akkas said.

Experts caution about the potential effect of any Israeli attack on the countries where Hamas members reside, which could turn the ongoing war into a regional conflict.

“This does not mean that these countries will quickly declare war on Israel, but this will destroy a rapid ceasefire or attempts to find a solution in Gaza,” Dogan-Akkas said.

However, it is still unclear what was the underlying intention behind Bar’s words and experts remain skeptical about whether Turkiye will change its policy on Hamas.

Cinkara does not expect any change in Turkiye’s relations with Hamas for the time being under current regional circumstances.

But for Dogan-Akkas, Bar’s words were a tactical move to show the world Israel’s intelligence superiority, especially as an answer to ongoing criticisms about failures over the Oct. 7 attack.

“They could take some Hamas hostages abroad, but this won’t be from Istanbul or Doha. In the meantime, I don’t think President Erdogan will completely deport Hamas-affiliated political figures because they are already low profile; they don’t go public except their small communities,” she said.

 


Egypt’s foreign minister looks to build on strategic relationship with US

Rep. Michael McCaul. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 December 2023
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Egypt’s foreign minister looks to build on strategic relationship with US

  • McCaul praised Egypt’s efforts to boost regional security and stability and expressed his full support for strengthening Egypt-US relations

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has met Michael McCaul, the US Republican representative who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during his visit to the US.

Shoukry spoke of Egypt’s desire to increase coordination and consultation between the two countries while building on their strategic relationship and partnership.

He looked at the significant developments that Egypt has witnessed over the years in economic and social policy.

He said that Egypt’s foreign policy was based on the need for regional peace, security, and good relations with neighboring states.

Consultations focused on international and regional issues and crises, including Gaza, Libya, Sudan, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, with the foreign minister highlighting the key aspects of Egypt’s stance on the matters.

He spoke of Egypt’s opposition to any attempt to forcibly displace Palestinian citizens from inside or outside their lands, and the importance of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to protect civilians.

McCaul praised Egypt’s efforts to boost regional security and stability and expressed his full support for strengthening Egypt-US relations.

Shoukry also met Sen. Ben Cardin, the chair of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The meeting looked at the situation in Gaza and Shoukry emphasized the need for increased international efforts to establish a sustainable ceasefire and protect civilians.

He reaffirmed Egypt’s rejection of forcibly displacing Palestinian citizens, while stressing the need to remove obstacles that prevented humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.

Cardin praised the Egyptian role in the region, thanking Egypt for providing humanitarian aid and contributing to the previous truce in Gaza.

 


Israeli bombing injures students at educational institute in southern Lebanon

Updated 07 December 2023
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Israeli bombing injures students at educational institute in southern Lebanon

  • Lebanon’s PM slams Israeli attacks as religious leader claims Israel-Hamas war violates all humanitarian laws

BEIRUT: Several students were left injured after Israeli shelling on Thursday struck an educational institution in the southern Lebanese town of Qunin.

The attack came amid ongoing border exchanges between the Israeli army and Hezbollah.

Qunin, in Lebanon’s Bint Jbeil district, is 120 km from Beirut but not directly on the border. It was hit by a series of explosions, and videos posted on social media showed rockets landing in the town and residents running for safety.

Witnesses claimed smoke bombs were followed by artillery shelling.

The Israeli army said that Israeli Air Force fighter jets “hit a series of targets for Hezbollah on Lebanese territory, including terrorist infrastructure, missile launch sites, and Hezbollah’s military outposts.

“A number of shootings were spotted from Lebanese territory toward Israeli territory earlier in the day, prompting the army to attack the sources of the shooting.”

Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said: “The Israeli criminality is unlimited, and this is what we are witnessing in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.”

Mikati’s statement came as part of his comments on the results of an investigation conducted by global media institutions, which held Israel accountable for targeting a group of journalists in southern Lebanon on Oct. 13, killing Reuters photographer Issam Abdallah, and wounding six others.

On Thursday morning, the outskirts of the towns of Hula, Markaba, Alma Al-Shaab, Tayr Harfa, Al-Dhahira, and Majdel Selm were also the target of Israeli artillery shelling.

And one person was taken to Marjayoun Governmental Hospital for treatment to injuries following Israeli bombing of Hamams Hill in Sarda. Other areas targeted included Wadi Saluki, Wadi Hamul, Ramyah, Bayt Lif, and the outskirts of the predominantly Christian border town of Rmeish.

The Israeli army reportedly fired six phosphorus shells toward Wadi Qatamoun while Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi was touring the south of the country.

During stops at two churches in Tyre, Al-Rahi said: “This solidarity visit, in light of the difficult circumstances, is a humanitarian duty in the face of the horrors of what is happening, and it is for the sake of peace, especially since this region is paying the price of war.

“This war is devastating, not only in Gaza, but it is a war outside all civilization and humanitarian laws.

“We came to declare that without peace, there is no life, and every human has a role, and we refuse to distort humanity’s role.

“We want to stand against hatred, malice, and hostility, as we are brothers. This is the true Lebanese culture and the true ecclesiastical spiritual culture.

“In our spiritual and Lebanese culture, we do not accept that the Palestinian cause be erased in a moment, but we strive for permanent peace.

“The two-state solution is required, and it is what achieves peace, and we will work to be peacemakers.

“In Lebanon, we stand firm in our unity, and we know that our enemy always aspires to annex lands from Lebanon, and this has been its ambition for a long time.

“We are witnessing a war of extermination, with no mercy, and we cannot watch the destruction of a people.

“It is a programmed, destructive war. There are voices worldwide, but they do not result in stances that alleviate people’s suffering. The Palestinian people have the right to decide their fate,” Al-Rahi added.

Officials from the Disaster Risk Management Unit in the Union of Tyre Municipalities said 20,000 newly displaced people from southern villages had been registered as of Wednesday and housed in five shelter centers in Tyre, adding that hundreds of other displaced people had not yet registered with the unit.

Unit managers noted they were being hampered in their work by a lack of available resources, especially as around 40 villages in the border area were unsafe for civilians.

Hezbollah continued to target Israeli military outposts on Thursday.

In a statement, the militant group said: “The vicinity of the Branit outpost was hit by a guided missile and many ambulances for the Israeli enemy were spotted moving in the area.”

Hezbollah added that it also targeted, “the site of Al-Marj, the Ramim forest, and the Mitat barracks with appropriate weapons, achieving direct hits, as well as the site of Ma’ayan Baruch with appropriate weapons, causing direct hits.”

 


Egypt’s foreign minister, UN chief discuss need for permanent Gaza ceasefire

Updated 07 December 2023
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Egypt’s foreign minister, UN chief discuss need for permanent Gaza ceasefire

  • Sameh Shoukry lauds key role adopted by Antonio Guterres in dealing with crisis in Palestine
  • Guterres and Shoukry discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and security situations in the Strip and diplomatic moves to restore a truce

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry has praised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ handling of the crisis in Gaza.

Condemning any attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians, the minister told the UN chief that Cairo was keen to coordinate efforts to bring about a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

In a phone call from Guterres to Shoukry, the officials discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and security situations in the Strip and diplomatic moves to restore a truce.

Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zaid, said Shoukry highlighted Egypt’s ongoing liaison with international parties and Arab and Muslim groups at the UN to find ways to end the conflict, and he noted the importance of applying Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

Guterres thanked Cairo for its help in dealing with the crisis and its efforts to get vital aid deliveries through to the Palestinian people.


Houthis vow to continue blocking Red Sea for Israeli ships

Updated 07 December 2023
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Houthis vow to continue blocking Red Sea for Israeli ships

  • Houthi Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Al-Atefi said that the militia would continue to block the Red Sea to ships owned or operated by Israel
  • US envoy discusses militia threats to international commercial traffic and peace efforts with key Yemen official

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis have threatened again to launch missile and drone strikes against Israeli ships traversing the Red Sea as well as Israel itself, amid mounting international pressure on the Yemeni militia. 

Houthi Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Al-Atefi said on Wednesday that the militia would continue to block the Red Sea for ships owned or operated by Israel and would fire ballistic missiles and drones at Israel, defying international calls for the militia to stop threatening maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

“In support of our people in Gaza, the navy, missile, and drone forces are ready to conduct the toughest individual and collective attacks on fixed or moving targets in Israel,” Al-Atefi said while addressing a group of military and security officers, as well as media, aboard the seized cargo ship Galaxy Leader.

Al-Atefi’s warnings came as the militia’s military declared the firing of a number of ballistic missiles targeting military sites in Eilat, south of Israel.

Since the beginning of this month, the Houthis have fired drones and ballistic missiles toward Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s assault in Gaza.

Several drones and missiles were intercepted over the Red Sea by US Navy ships. 

The Houthis seized the Israeli-linked cargo ship Galaxy Leader from the Red Sea on Nov. 19 and diverted it to the shore of Yemen’s Hodeidah. 

The militia transformed the seized ship into a tourist attraction, allowing visitors to board for 500 Yemeni riyals (almost a dollar in Houthi cities).

People were seen wandering around the ship, dancing in groups, and chewing the hobby qat leaves, according to social media influencers.

Images on social media showed tiny boats transporting passengers from Hodeidah’s shoreline to the ship.

Others were spotted snapping pictures and waving Palestinian and Yemeni flags.

The slogans of the Houthis were displayed on the ship.

“The ship is available to everybody for 500 riyals. Life is great here since one may chew (qat), alter his mood, smoke shisha, and even earn a livelihood,” Mustafa Al-Maouri, a Yemeni online influencer who was kidnapped by the Houthis and placed on trial earlier this year, said on the ship’s top deck.

Meanwhile, Tim Lenderking, US Yemen envoy, met with Aidarous Al-Zubeidi, deputy president of Yemen’s Presidential Transitional Council, in Dubai on Thursday to discuss Houthi threats to international commercial traffic in the Red Sea and peace efforts to end the conflict in Yemen.

“We discussed the urgent maritime security concerns and challenges in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab considering the recent escalation by the Houthis and reviewed together the latest updates regarding the UN-led political peace process to end the war in #Yemen,” Al-Zubeidi said on the social media platform X.

The US Department of State said that Lenderking traveled to the region on Monday to push for a peaceful resolution to the Yemen crisis and to discuss with US partners measures to maintain the safety of international commerce.