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Saudi-led coalition strikes MSF hospital in Yemen

People gather around a heavily damaged building after Saudi-led coalition's air strikes over Arhab District of Sanaa, Yemen on 23 August, 2017 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

People gather around a heavily damaged building after Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes over Arhab District of Sanaa, Yemen on 23 August, 2017

The international NGO Doctors Without Borders warned in a statement yesterday that one of its cholera treatment clinics was hit by a Saudi-led coalition air strike.

The centre was based in Abs, and attacked at approximately 5:40am local time, although no staff or patients were killed or injured. The clinic was based one kilometre from the MSF-backed Abd Rural Hospital, which serves a population of more than one million people.

The air strike “by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition (SELC) shows complete disrespect for medical facilities and patients. Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable. The compound was clearly marked as a health facility and its coordinates were shared with the SELC,” João Martins, MSF’s head of mission in Yemen, said in a statement.

“With only half of health facilities in Yemen fully functional, nearly 10 million people in acute need, and an anticipated outbreak of cholera, the CTC had been built to save lives. MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs until the safety of its staff and patients is guaranteed”, Martins continued.

MSF Yemen

@msf_yemen

has temporarily frozen its activities in until we guarantee the safety of our staff and patients.”¨João Martins, MSF’s Head of Mission

The Yemen war intensified when the Saudi-led coalition was invited to launch a military air campaign in March 2015. Since then, Yemen has remained in a stalemate with the Houthi group controlling large swathes of territory from Sana’a to Saada governorate.

Read: Saudi-led coalition assault on Yemen port would be disaster

Last Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pulled out 71 employeesfrom Yemen over security concerns amid the pending assault on the port city of Hudaydah. Some 450 ICRC employees remain in Yemen, engaging in humanitarian aid work. In addition, the United Nations has evacuated its staff fearing a brutal attack led by the United Arab Emirates.

The UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths has been holding talks with the Houthis in an effort to have the port placed in the UN’s hands. To add pressure, the UAE provided a timeframe of 48 hours to allow the negotiations to occur, which lapses by end of play today.

The Saudi-led coalition continues to accuse the Houthis of smuggling weapons via the Hudaydah port, despite the coalition continually monitoring the Bab Al Mandeb strait leading to the port. There has been no empirical evidence to suggest that the Houthis are receiving arms via the Hudaydah port.

GregorydJohnsen

@gregorydjohnsen

The UN Panel on which I served for two years saw no evidence of this –> “The Arab-led coalition and the American military say the rebels have been smuggling arms through Al Hudaydah” 

Fighters loyal to the government of Yemen carrying explosives thought to have been dropped by Houthi rebels around Al Hudaydah on Friday.

U.N. Pulls Out of City in Yemen, Fearing Bloody Assault by Arab Coalition

Diplomats say the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will lead an attack on Al Hudaydah, a rebel-held port that is an entry point for humanitarian aid.

nytimes.com

Three years after the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict, Yemen has witnessed more than 10,000 deaths according to the United Nations and civilians remain trapped in the middle of the cross fire, with dwindling supplies of basic amenities and a lack of access to sufficient water, sanitation and food.

UN: Assault on Yemen’s Hudaydah port could cost 250,000 lives

(Source / 12.06.2018)

27 journalists killed in Yemen since 2014: NGO

The NGO says hundreds of news portals have been blocked in Yemen

A total of 27 journalists have been killed since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war in 2014, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, an NGO, said Saturday.

“The press freedom [in Yemen] is going through very difficult conditions and has been subject to a systematic war since 2014,” the syndicate said in a statement marking the Yemeni Press Day, which was observed yesterday, 9 June.

According to the statement, a total of 27 journalists “have lost their lives for the sake of fulfilling the right of the society to obtain information”.

The syndicate said media outlets in Yemen have been looted, journalists and photographers chased and hundreds of news portals blocked.

It called for the release of 12 journalists held by Houthi rebels and another journalist taken hostage by al-Qaeda militants.

“They are living in poor conditions and are subject to brutal torture,” the statement said, going on to call for piling pressure on warring rivals in Yemen to “create an appropriate and safe environment for journalists and respect the right to obtain information”.

Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab its allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The violence has devastated the country’s basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

UN: 400,000 starving Yemen children face risk of death

In addition to the Cholera outbreak, at least 3 million children in Yemen suffer from malnutrition as a result of the current conflict [File photo]

In addition to the Cholera outbreak, at least 3 million children in Yemen suffer from malnutrition as a result of the current conflict [File photo]

Three UN agencies have warned that hundreds of starving Yemeni children are facing the risk of death if assistance does not reach them soon, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

In a joint statement, the WHO, UNICEF and WFP said thousands of innocent victims, including many children in Yemen will die if no humanitarian assistance reaches them soon.

They added: “More than 20 million people, including 10 million children are urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” noting that 400,000 children are facing the risk of death due to “acute malnutrition”.

READ: 50,000 Yemeni children will die by end of the year, says Save the Children

Meanwhile, Save the Children said that 50,000 Yemeni children under 15 years old are dying due to sickness and lack of food.

Save the Children warned in a statement of the continuous deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country, stressing that this would end the life of tens of thousands of children.

UN statistics have revealed that about seven million Yemenis are also facing imminent death due to starvation in Yemen.

For his part, the UN Secretary General António Guterres expressed his disappointment of the rejection of the Saudi-led coalition to response to the UN Security Council to lift the siege on Yemen, which is witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis due to the “stupid war”.

(Source / 18.11.2017)

Yemen Army Regains Control over Strategic Areas in Marib

Yemen

Aden – Yemeni National Army units continued their push in the eastern province of Marib, military sources said.

Yemen’s first group of special commandos managed to penetrate multiple insurgency strongholds in the Directorate of Sarawah in Marib.

An insurgency commander Brig. Gen. Hussein Qasim al-Saqqaf was killed in the attacks launched by government forces three days ago along with a number of his companions, many armed militiamen were captured as well.

According to information gathered from the third military zone in Marib, a commando operation also resulted in the seizure of a large number of documents.

Marib province is among a very few provinces that fought off Houthi military expansion in late 2014, months before Saudi Arabia and allied Arab countries entered the war to bring back legitimate President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

For almost two years, government forces and the Saudi-led coalition have been militarily pressuring rebels to turn over their territories in Marib as to put an end to sporadic rocket attacks on the province’s capital Marib.

The Yemeni National Army had launched a military operation consistent of intensive attacks on remaining coup pockets in Marib, and the army was able to successfully regain full control of the Mukhaddara region, a local told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Increasingly, the army has liberated the once Houthi-run region.

“The army, backed by pro-government popular resistance members, ambushed Sana’a militias before Eid al-Fitr and managed to exact remarkable advances,” the source added.

“This qualitative operation backed by air support from the Saudi-led coalition was very impressive and staged operations over the course of 48 hours.” said a field source in Al-Jada’an’s resistance to Asharq Al-Awsat.

As battlefield developments unfolded, coalition aircrafts sent out pamphlets across residential areas in Saada province, a coupists stronghold.

Eyewitnesses said that pamphlets urged citizens to cooperate with the pro-government forces and abandon Iran-allied insurgents to face their fate, warning any citizen or tribe from providing any support to insurgency militiamen.

In a related context, aerial bombardment by coalition air forces continued to target insurgency locations near the border in the Hajjah Governorate.

Field sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there were fierce battles and intense artillery shelling and fire exchange in the Midi and Abs districts.

Sources said that artillery and rocket fire hit other locations in the front of Haradh, especially the area of Wadi Suleiman and the old customs and areas close to the border with Saudi Arabia.

(Source / 27.06.2017)

Yemen’s army edges closer to Taiz presidential palace

Image of Yemeni soldiers [Iran/Twitter]

Image of Yemeni soldiers

Yemen’s national army, loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, are metres away from the presidential palace, Al-Arabiya reported today.

Thirty-two Houthi soldiers and their allies have been killed in the fire fight with the advancing national army. Five Yemeni army soldiers have been killed and 20 injured in the battle for the presidential palace.

Major General Khalid Fadel, the commander of the Taiz battlefront, confirmed that the Yemeni army has recaptured the surrounding buildings, including the central building and medical school. In a message broadcast to his forces, the commander told them to remain “firm”.

Read: Arab League backs Yemen unity, after breakaway council

Since 2015, the Saudi-led coalition intervened to reinstate Hadi and to push back the Houthi group’s military advances towards southern Yemen. The Houthi group are currently controlling the capital, Sana’a.

(Source / 26.05.2017)

Political Changes Reflect on Yemen

Yemen

It is clear from the intensified Arab coalition’s operations in Yemen that the war there has greatly shifted in their favor against the insurgents.

Coordination between Saudi-led coalition forces and the US has been restored after it was suspended during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidential term. Several raids targeted Houthi militias training camps in Saada and several Houthi locations in the Nahm front, east of Sana’a, which ended with their defeat in that rugged governorate.

According to army statements, the national army, aided by coalition’s air force, moved to Arhab, the governorate close to the capital Sana’a.

In addition, naval cooperation has thwarted three Houthi naval attacks near Midi port.

Recent reports revealed that the next attack will be decisive in this war as it will target the strategic Hodeida port, which Iranian ships use to smuggle arms to insurgents.

Following Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Washington, the coalition’s position strengthened and has been enhanced. As a result of the agreements with the US, supplies of ammunition have been resumed and so did the exchange of military intelligence information on enemy positions and operations.

In addition to military results, this sends an equally important message that in Yemen, unlike Syria, there is an international agreement to eliminate the insurgents and isolate their Iranian ally, which is present in Yemen through its militias that are fighting alongside the Houthis.

Following these new military shifts, the international envoy is back in an attempt to promote the peace initiative, which is still valid and has been slightly amended by him in a hope it would close the gap between different parties.

The envoy amended the initiative based on three references: UN Resolution 2216, the Gulf initiative and the national dialogue decisions.

In addition, the successful military operations, which pressured Houthi militias affiliated with Iran, and the national army’s march against the forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, by moving into Arhab on the way to Sana’a, will help the envoy execute his plan.

This does not undermine the conflict in Yemen where the team of legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is being accused of obstructing efforts toward a political solution and of preferring the continuation of the conflict because an end to the war would cost him the presidency.

It is certain that military developments will contribute to a better understanding on how Yemen will be governed.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Yemen war turns two

Women hold a banner as they take part in a protest marking the International Women’s Day outside the United Nations offices in Sanaa, Yemen, March 8, 2017

This month the war in Yemen is 2 years old. It pits a coalition of mostly wealthy Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, supporting President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government against a ragged alliance of Houthi Shiite rebels and backers of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who enjoy Iranian support. Despite occasional claims that victory is near by the Saudi-backed Hadi loyalists, there is little prospect for the war to end. The Yemeni people, the poorest in Arabia, are paying a terrible price.

The war is Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s war. Salman had just ascended to the throne in early 2015 after the death of his brother Abdullah. Salman had just made his favorite son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, defense minister. The Houthi rebels chased Hadi out of Sanaa and seemed poised to take the whole country. Hadi fled in exile to Riyadh. The Houthis opened direct commercial flights from Sanaa to Tehran, Saudi Arabia’s nemesis, and took other steps to strengthen their longstanding but limited ties to Iran.

Riyadh panicked. Salman feared an Iranian puppet state on his most vulnerable border, with 27 million Yemenis under Iranian influence demanding a fair distribution of the Arabian Peninsula’s wealth. The Saudis announced creation of a coalition to back Hadi and return him to power in Sanaa. Some of the announced partners, including Oman, Yemen’s only other neighbor, and Pakistan, quickly made it clear that they were not joining the war. The Pakistani parliament even voted unanimously to stay out of the war. Salman has not visited Muscat since; he has been to every other Gulf Cooperation Council capital and his monthlong trip this month to Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, China and the Maldives flies over Oman en route to the Arab summit in Jordan.

It quickly became clear that the young defense minister had no game plan for victory or an endgame for the war. The mission was titled Operation Decisive Storm, but two years later there is no decision. The young prince originally was the public face of the campaign; now he prefers to discuss his ambitious plans to oversee the kingdom’s economic transformation to Saudi 2030. The Saudi border towns have borne the burden of the Houthis’ counterstrikes with rockets and missiles. Reporters are not allowed to visit.

The Saudis and the Emiratis did succeed in keeping the rebels from taking Aden. After prolonged conflict, the Hadi government has been installed in most of the former South Yemen, although its control is tenuous outside Aden. Hadi spokesmen say victory is close. One promised that the fall of Sanaa is imminent this month. This seems unlikely.

Even if the Saudis take back Sanaa, the kingdom will face a prolonged, possibly endless, struggle to pacify the Houthis. The Saudis have been battling the Houthis for over a decade along the border in a series of small campaigns that go back to 2004. Then the Saudis were Saleh’s ally. The Zaydi Shiite majority in the north has a deep aversion to the Saudis’ Sunni Wahhabism.

Salman’s father, King Ibn Saud, and all his brothers who have ruled since 1953 recognized that Yemen is a morass that can suck in resources. Ibn Saud fought a war with Yemen in the 1930s but kept his goals limited. His successors often found Yemeni politics and politicians to be frustrating and unresponsive to Saudi influence. All avoided getting into an open-ended conflict.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been a beneficiary of the war. That is why the new US administration has conducted more airstrikes against AQAP targets since January than the Obama administration did in all of 2016. Attacking al-Qaeda makes sense — it is a dangerous threat to our interests — but it is a sideshow in the Yemeni war. As long as the war continues, AQAP will find plenty of ungoverned space to thrive in and plenty of angry Yemeni recruits.

Iran is the biggest beneficiary. Its support to the Houthis costs it very little. A handful of Iranian and Hezbollah advisers and some weapons transferred is a pittance for Tehran. But it gains propaganda advantage by helping the Yemenis against the Saudis. It gains from bogging down its rival in a conflict that is strategically crucial to Riyadh and marginal to Tehran. And it would like to see America bogged down in Yemen, too.

The United Nations has tried to get a lasting cease-fire and begin a political process. But the guidelines provided hastily by the UN Security Council at the start of the war are hopelessly tilted toward the Saudi position because all the major powers wanted to court the new king. Ironically, only Russia argued that the resolution was one-sided. In any case, none of the Yemeni parties has shown any significant willingness to compromise, and the Saudis are unwilling to force Hadi to step aside. So the diplomacy is as stalemated as the war.

America and Britain have provided the aircraft and munitions that the Royal Saudi Air Force has been using to bomb the infrastructure of Yemen for two years. A minority in Congress has tried to block arms transfers and sales but they are unlikely to succeed. Nonetheless, criticism of the Saudi war is growing around the world.

The war is a costly one for the kingdom, especially when oil prices remain low. No reliable figures are available about the costs of the Saudi war. Riyadh provides no figures. The Saudis fund not only their own military campaign but the costs of their Yemeni allies and many of their coalition partners such as Sudan. Saudi Arabia had the third-largest defense and security budget in the world in the first year of the war (2015), according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and while the Yemeni war is only a part of the Saudis’ military spending, it is a burden far beyond what a nation of only 20 million citizens can sustain.

The Yemeni people were the poorest in the Arab world before the war. Now, according to UNICEF, a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from severe malnutrition and other problems linked to the war and the Saudi blockade of the north. Many others are stunted for life by malnutrition. The humanitarian costs are staggering and they will have a long political legacy.

Several members of the new American administration have experience with Yemen, including the secretaries of state and defense. Now is the time for a thorough interagency policy review of Yemen. While terribly poor, Yemen is strategically important as the underbelly of Saudi Arabia and the guardian of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait through which most of the West’s oil imports pass. The prime American interest is to help our oldest ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, find a way out of a conflict that is not working out in its own interests. Our other urgent interest is to stop the carnage against the Yemeni people. Diplomacy is the answer, but it will need to be American-led with conviction and consequences.

(Source / 13.03.2017)

Saudi airstrike kills 22 civilians in Yemen

People attend the funeral ceremony for the Yemeni Army's deputy chief of staff Major General Ahmad Saif Al Yafii, under tight security measures in Aden, Yemen on February 24, 2017. Ahmad Saif Al Yafii, was killed by a heat-seeking missile on the outskirts of the coastal town of Mokha during clashes with Houthi militias [Wail Qubati / Anadolu Agency]

People attend the funeral ceremony for the Yemeni Army’s deputy chief of staff Major General Ahmad Saif Al Yafii, under tight security measures in Aden, Yemen on February 24, 2017

At least 22 civilians were killed yesterday and dozens wounded when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a market in western Yemen causing a fire to break out, a local official said.

Missiles launched by fighter jets of the Arab alliance hit a market selling the narcotic leaf qat, which is popular among Yemenis, near the Red Sea fishing town of Khoukha.

Rescue workers on Friday night were battling a blaze in the market caused by the attack and pulling bodies out of the rubble some of which were burnt beyond recognition, according to Hashim Azazi, deputy governor of Hodeidah province.

“All of those killed were civilians, none were holding weapons,” said Azazi.

A coalition spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Khoukha and the nearby city of Hodeidah are controlled by Iran-allied Houthi fighters who in 2014 overran Yemen’s capital Sana’a and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

Yemeni government forces backed by Gulf Arab troops recaptured control of the southern Red Sea city of Al-Mokha last month in a push that paved the way for an advance on Hodeidah, the country’s main port city.

The fighting on Yemen’s west coast has displaced nearly 50,000 people in the last six weeks among them children suffering from malnutrition forced to live in schools and in tents on streets, a United Nations refugee agency spokesman told a news briefing in Geneva on Friday.

The blocking of main roads by warring parties is hampering humanitarian access to those in need.

“The incident at Khawkhah resulted in a number of civilian deaths and injuries. We’re deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life,” UNHCR spokeswoman for Yemen Shabia Mantoo told Reuters.

The Saudi-led coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who have fired missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Friday’s attacks were the latest in a series of coalition-led strikes that have hit schools, hospitals, markets and private homes. The Houthis themselves have fired missiles at extensive civilian targets throughout not only Yemen, but also Saudi Arabia, killing many.

In December, the coalition acknowledged that it had made “limited use” of British-made cluster bombs, but said it had stopped using them.

Nearly half of Yemen’s 22 provinces are on the verge of famine, according to the UN World Food Programme, as a result of the war that has drawn in regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.

(Source / 11.03.2017)

Houthis and their allies destroy mosques and kidnap imams

Houthi rebels

Image of armed Houthi rebels [file photo]

Houthi militias and their allies, notably forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, have destroyed or damaged 578 mosques in Yemen and kidnapped 150 imams, a Saudi newspaper alleged on Friday. According to Okaz, there are reports that in some areas the Houthis are obliging imams to use sectarian slogans to incite people to kill, destroy property and create divisions within society.

One report, issued after contact was made with Yemeni scholars, claims that 29 mosques have been completely destroyed by the Houthis; 24 others were partially destroyed; and dozens of others have been damaged by explosions and air strikes.

Furthermore, it is claimed that the Houthis destroyed 16 Qur’an teaching schools and 16 religious schools. They are also accused of raiding 146 mosques and turning them into military bases and weapons stores.

The pro-Saleh militias, meanwhile, are alleged to have raided 84 mosques over the past three years and threatened the worshippers inside. Property from at least 12 mosques has been looted, while 5 others were targeted by gunfire. Around 150 imams and an unknown number of worshippers have been kidnapped and tortured during such attacks, it is claimed.

(Source / 25.02.2017)

EU Confirms Continuous Political, Humanitarian Support for Yemen

Secretary General of the European External Action Service of the European Union Helga Schmid.

Secretary General of the European External Action Service of the European Union Helga Schmid

Brussels- Secretary General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid has confirmed that the EU will provide Yemen with humanitarian assistance and exert efforts to establish peace in the country.

This was unfolded during Schmid’s meeting on Friday, in Brussels, with the Yemeni Ambassador to Belgium Mohamed Taha Mustafa.

The diplomat pointed out his country’s will to reach peace in accordance with the three terms of references and the commitments agreed upon.

Mustafa also praised EU’s support for the legitimate government and the continuous humanitarian aid it provides for his country.

During his meeting with Schmid, Mustafa called for doubling humanitarian aid due to the bad economic and humanitarian situation Yemen has been facing.

He also called on the EU to double its pressure on Houthi militias, who prevent the entry of humanitarian aid convoys to areas under their control, and whoever backs them in order to accept the terms of references and proceed with the political process that was halted following the coup.

On the other hand, a Jordanian F-16 warplane crashed in Najran on Friday but its pilot survived, according to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“Technical reasons” caused the crash of the U.S.-built aircraft in the Najran district on the Saudi side of the border with Yemen, the coalition said in a statement.

(Source / 25.02.2017)