Yemen Watch - News, Updates & Discussions. - Page 5

Yemen Watch - News, Updates & Discussions.
April 8th, 2015  
Yemen Watch - News, Updates & Discussions.
Houthi fighters in full control of Aden's Presidential Palace


April 8th, 2015  

April 8th, 2015  
Houthis are entering Aden port

Yemen Watch - News, Updates & Discussions.
April 8th, 2015  
Saudi forces have landed in Perim island . Fighting is still going on

All credits goes to IMF
April 8th, 2015  
Russia urges UN to call for a 'humanitarian pause' in Yemen

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia urged the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to call for a "humanitarian pause" in the conflict in Yemen to help diplomats and civilians caught in the fighting between Shiite rebels and supporters of the country's beleaguered president.

Russia called an emergency meeting of the council and circulated a draft resolution demanding "regular and obligatory" breaks in airstrikes by a Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi Shiite rebels to allow the evacuation of foreign personnel. It makes no mention of a halt to fighting by the Houthis.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, also demands "rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need."

After the meeting, Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Dina Kawar, the current council president, said members "reiterated concern over the grave humanitarian situation" and again called for implementation of a resolution demanding an end to the fighting in Yemen and a return to negotiations.
April 8th, 2015  
Afghan Militants Vow To Send ‘Thousands’ Of Fighters To Yemen

ISLAMABAD: An Afghanistan-based jihadist group on Wednesday vowed to send “thousands” of fighters to Yemen in support of Saudi Arabia.

Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin was one of the main Sunni insurgent groups that fought against Soviet troops and later re-emerged to fight US-led coalition forces after 2001.

“If there is any possibility to go to Iraq and Yemen, thousands of Afghan mujahideen would be ready to go, to counter Iran’s interference and to defend their Muslim brothers,” its leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former prime minister of Afghanistan, said in an online statement.

“After Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Tehran has now started interfering in Yemen, it is supporting the anti-Muslim, apostate troops,” he added.

Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin first emerged as part of the anti-Soviet mujahideen alliance in the 1980s which was bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and the United States, and coordinated by Pakistani intelligence.

(Coalition for Democracy )

Saudi Arabia has asked its longstanding ally Pakistan to contribute planes, ships and ground troops to the operation against Iranian-backed Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.

But Pakistan has resisted so far, calling for a diplomatic solution and saying it does not want to take part in any conflict that would worsen sectarian divisions in the Muslim world.

April 8th, 2015  
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia .... Heavy clashes between Saudi soldiers and local fighters going on for last five hours in Awamiyah

Graphic content :

Video of clashes:

April 11th, 2015  
Yemen conflict’s risk for Saudis: ‘Their Vietnam’

Smoke rises in the capital city of Sanaa and the southern port city of Aden in campaign to quell uprising by Houthi rebels.

BEIRUT — Two weeks into a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, airstrikes appear to have accelerated the country’s fragmentation into warring tribes and militias while doing little to accomplish the goal of returning the ousted Yemeni president to power, analysts and residents say.

The Yemeni insurgents, known as Houthis, have pushed ahead with their offensive and seem to have protected many of their weapons stockpiles from the coalition’s bombardments, analysts say. The fighting has killed hundreds of people, forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes and laid waste to the strategic southern city of Aden.

The battles are increasingly creating problems that go beyond the rebels opposing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the forces supporting him. The conflict has reduced available water and food supplies in a country already suffering from dangerous levels of malnutrition and created a security vacuum that has permitted territorial advances by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

For the Saudi government and its allies, the military operation in Yemen may be turning into a quagmire, analysts say.

“What’s a potential game changer in all of this is not just the displacement of millions of people, but it’s this huge spread of disease, starvation and inaccessibility [of] water, combined with an environment where radical groups are increasingly operating in the open and recruiting,” said Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Saudi-led airstrike targets rebels in Yemen(1:16)
The Saudi-led airstrike campaign entered its 14th day on Wednesday, hitting a residential area in the capital of Sanaa. (AP)
The Yemen conflict, he added, could become a situation where “nobody can figure out either who started this fight or how to end it.”

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni powerhouse, views the Houthis as proxies of Shiite Iran. The air campaign that began March 25 is widely seen in the region as an attempt by the Saudis to counter the expanding influence of Iran, which has gained significant sway in Arab countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Hadi, the internationally recognized Yemeni president, was pushed out of the capital, Sanaa, in February. He then attempted to establish an authority in Aden before being forced to flee to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, last month.

In a media briefing in Riyadh this week, a Saudi military spokesman painted a positive picture of the offensive in neighboring Yemen, saying that Houthi militias had been isolated in Aden and that groups of rebels were abandoning the fight. Saudi officials have argued that a two-week time frame is too short to judge the operation’s outcome and have emphasized that they are moving carefully to avoid civilian casualties.

The Saudi-led coalition, which the U.S. government supports with intelligence and weapons, consists of mostly Arab and Sunni Muslim countries, and the level of quiet coordination among their armed forces has impressed analysts. The United Arab Emirates and Jordan are believed to have joined Saudi Arabia in conducting air raids that have destroyed scores of military bases and arms depots, said Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based analyst on Middle Eastern military issues. The Saudis also have received support from Egypt’s navy in patrolling the coast of Yemen, he said.

Still, Karasik said, Houthi rebels appear to have successfully hidden from bombardment significant stores of weapons, possibly by moving them to the insurgents’ mountainous northern stronghold of Saada. To destroy those arms and persuade the Houthis to halt their offensive and agree to peace talks, a ground attack would be required, he said.

“This illustrates that air power alone cannot rid enemy ground forces of their weapons and capability,” Karasik said. “It makes them scatter, and it makes them hide their weapons for a later day.”

Saudi airstrikes in Yemen VIEW GRAPHIC

Difficult choices

Ground troops would certainly face stiff resistance from the Houthi militiamen. Seasoned guerrilla fighters, they seized parts of southern Saudi Arabia during a brief war in 2009, killing over 100 Saudi troops.

Saudi Arabia has not ruled out a ground attack, but its allies appear wary of such a move. The kingdom has asked Pakistan to commit troops to the campaign, but that country is deeply divided over participating in an operation that could anger its own Shiite minority.

Though fraught with risk, continued airstrikes and a possible ground incursion may be the only choices that Saudi Arabia sees itself as having, said Imad Salamey, a Middle East expert at Lebanese American University. He said that officials in Riyadh probably are concerned that relenting could be perceived as weakness, especially by Iran.

Saudi Arabia also considers Yemen to be its backyard, he noted. “As far as the Saudis are concerned, this is a fight for their homeland, the existence of their regime.”

On Thursday, Iranian leaders issued strong condemnations of the Saudi-directed strikes. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called them a “crime and a genocide” in a televised speech.

Crumbling support
The Yemen campaign is part of an increasingly assertive Saudi policy in the region that is driven in part by what analysts say is concern over a possible agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The Saudis fear such a deal could amount to U.S. recognition of Iran’s growing influence in the region.

The Saudis have said that they want to restore Hadi’s government. But the president’s support base — both in the splintered military and among the public – appears to be crumbling.

Many residents say they resent how Hadi and fellow exiled leaders cheer on coalition assaults from abroad as Aden residents confront heavily armed Houthi militiamen and their allies.

“He’s only ever let us down,” said Ali Mohammed, 28, an unemployed resident of Aden, referring to Hadi.

Wadah al-Dubaish, 40, who is leading a militia in Aden fighting the Houthis, said that Hadi is no longer welcome in the city. “We don’t want him here and don’t want to see his face here,” he said.

In other areas where anti-Houthi sentiment runs high, Hadi’s stock also appears to be falling. Ahmed Othman, a politician in the southern city of Taiz who opposes the Houthis, blamed Hadi for not organizing military resistance against the rebels. He also expressed worry about unidentified fighters who are increasingly staging attacks on Houthi positions in the city.

“The biggest concern we have now in Taiz is the absence of security,” he said.

In provinces where opposition to the Houthis runs high, especially in the south, tribal forces have played an increasingly prominent role in opposing the rebels.

Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni analyst and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, said that mounting civilian casualties from the coalition air raids have fanned public anger. So, too, have worsening shortages of food and water, he added.

He said the chaos is creating fertile ground for extremist groups like AQAP. The group, which uses Yemen as a base to stage attacks in the West, has seized significant territory during the fighting, including Yemen’s fifth-largest city as well as a military installation on the border with Saudi Arabia.

It may be impossible to put Yemen back together, Muslimi said.

“The days of a Yemen that could be run by one person who could be dealt with and who could take care of things are gone,” he said.

That leaves the Saudis with no obvious military or diplomatic exit, he added. “This is becoming their Vietnam.”
April 15th, 2015  

By Conn Hallinan*

Saudi Arabia’s recent intrusion into Yemen is ostensibly part of a bitter proxy war with Iran. But the coalition that Riyadh has assembled to intervene in Yemen’s civil war has more in common with 19th-century Europe than the 21st-century Middle East.

The 22-member Arab League came together at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last month to draw up its plan to attack the Houthi forces currently holding Yemen’s capital. And the meeting bore an uncanny resemblance to a similar gathering of monarchies at Vienna in 1814.

The leading voice at the Egyptian resort was the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal. His historical counterpart was Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian foreign minister who designed the “Concert of Europe” to ensure that no revolution would ever again threaten the monarchs who dominated the continent.

More than 200 years divides those gatherings, but their goals were much the same: to safeguard a small and powerful elite’s dominion over a vast area.

There were not only kings represented at Sharm el-Sheikh. Besides the foreign ministers for the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Morocco, and Jordan — most of the Arab League was there, with lots of encouragement and support from Washington and London.

But Saudi Arabia was running the show, footing the bills, and flying most of the bombing raids against Houthi fighters and refugee camps.

A Local War

The Yemen crisis is being represented as a clash between Iran and the Arab countries, part of ongoing tension between Sunni and Shiite Islam.

The Arab League accuses Iran of overthrowing the Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, using the Shiite Houthis as their proxies. But the civil war in Yemen is a long-running conflict over access to political power and resources, not religion, or any attempt by Iran to spread its influence into a strategic section of the Arabian Peninsula.

The spread of sectarian warfare, as longtime Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn points out, is a more likely result of the Saudi invasion than a cause.

The Houthis, like the Iranians, are Shiites, but of the Zaydi variety — not one that many Iranians would even recognize. And while the Houthis have been at war with the central government off and on since 2004, the issues are profane, not sacred.

Yemen — a country of 25 million people that’s about the size of France — is the poorest nation in the Middle East, with declining resources, an exploding population, and a host of players competing for a piece of the shrinking pie. Unemployment is above 40 percent and water is scarce. Oil, the country’s major export, is due to run out in the next few years.

The country is also one of the most fragmented in the region, divided between the poorer north and the richer, more populous south, and riven by a myriad of tribes and clans. Until 1990 it was not even one country, and it took a fratricidal civil war in 1994 to keep it unified. There is still a strong southern secessionist movement.

The current war is a case in point.

The Houthis fought six wars with former military strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced out of the presidency in 2012 by the GCC and the UN Security Council. Hadi, his vice president, took over and largely ignored the Houthis — always a bad idea in Yemen.

So, aided by their former enemy, Saleh — who maintains a strong influence in the Yemeni armed forces — the Houthis went to war with Hadi. The new president was placed under house arrest by the rebels, but escaped south to the port of Aden before fleeing to Saudi Arabia when the Houthis and Saleh’s forces marched on the city.

Logical Contortions

That’s the simple version of the complexity that is Yemen. But “complex” was not a word encountered much at Sharm el-Sheikh. For the Arab League, this is all about Iran. The Houthis, said President-in-exile Hadi, are “Iranian stooges.”

Most independent experts disagree.

The Houthis, says Towson University professor Charles Schmitz, an expert on the group, “are domestic, homegrown, and have deep roots in Yemen going back thousands of years.” He says that the Houthis have received support from Iran, but “not weapons, which they take from the Yemeni military.”

“Does that mean they are going to do Iran’s bidding?” he asks. “I don’t think so.”

Both Democrats and Republican hailed the Saudi attacks. “I applaud the Saudis for taking this action to protect their homeland and to protect their own neighborhood,” said House Speaker John Boehner. Rep. Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, agreed. The Obama administration says it’s providing intelligence and logistical support for the operation.

U.S. involvement in Yemen is long-standing, dating back to 1979 and the Carter administration. According to UPI, the CIA funneled money to Jordan’s King Hussein to foment a north-south civil war in Yemen, and U.S. Special Forces have been on the ground directing drone strikes for over a decade.

This, of course, creates certain logical disconnects.

The United States is supporting the Saudi bombing in Yemen because the Houthis are allied with Iran and because Washington relies on the Yemeni government as a partner against al-Qaeda. But in Iraq, the U.S. is tacitly cooperating with Iran in the war on the Islamic State, or ISIS. And while the Saudi government is opposed to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, aided by U.S. intelligence, it’s attacking one of the major forces fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen — the Houthis.

In the meantime, the Gulf Council has stepped up its support of the Nusra Front in Syria, a group tied to al-Qaeda and a sworn enemy of the Gulf monarchies as well as the United States.

Ginning Up a Regional War

On one level this reaches the level of farce. On the other, the situation is anything but humorous.

The Yemen intervention will deepen Shiite-Sunni divisions in the Islamic world and pull several countries into Yemen, the very definition of a quagmire. While the Arab League’s code name for the Yemini adventure is “Operation Decisive Storm,” Cockburn points out, the military operation will almost certainly be the opposite.

“In practice, a decisive outcome is the least likely prospect for Yemen, just like it has been in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he writes. “A political feature common to all three countries is that power is divided between so many players it is impossible to defeat or placate them all for very long.”

Even if the Houthis are driven back to their traditional base in the north, it would be foolhardy for any ground force to take them on in the mountains they call home. The Yemeni government tried six times and never succeeded. It is rather unlikely that Egyptian or Saudi troops will do any better. While the Arab League did make a decision to form a 40,000-man army, how that will be constituted — and who will command it — is not clear.

Besides stirring up more religious sectarianism, the Yemen war will aid the Saudis and the GCC in their efforts to derail the tentative nuclear agreement with Iran.

If that agreement fails, a major chance for stability in the region will be lost. Saudi Arabia’s newfound aggressiveness — and its bottomless purse — will gin up the civil war in Syria, increase tensions in northern Lebanon, and torpedo the possibility of organizing a serious united front against ISIS.

Muzzling Modernity

While the U.S. has talked about a political solution, that’s not what’s coming out of the Arab League. The military campaign, says Arab League General Secretary Nabil el-Araby, “will continue until all the Houthi militia retreats and disarms and a strong unified Yemen returns.” The bombings have already killed hundreds of civilians and generated tens of thousands of refugees. Gulf Council sources say that the air war may continue for up to six months.

Instead of endorsing what is certain to be a disaster, Washington should join the call by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for a ceasefire and negotiations. “I’m convinced that military actions is not a solution,” she said, calling on “all regional actors” to “act responsibly and constructively… for a return to negotiations.”

The Houthis are not interested in running Yemen. Senior Houthi leader Saleh Ali al-Sammad said that his organization “does not want anything more than partnership, not control.” Houthi ally and ex-president Saleh also said, “Let’s go to dialogue and ballot boxes,” not bombing. Yemen needs an influx of aid, not bombs, drones, and hellfire missiles.

The Congress of Europe muzzled European modernism for more than a generation, just as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Egypt will do their best to strangle what is left of the Arab Spring. Prince Metternich remained Austria’s Chancellor until a storm of nationalism and revolution swept across Europe in 1848 and brought down the congress of reaction.
April 15th, 2015  
UN sanctions Houthis in Yemen, ignores Russian calls for all-inclusive arms embargo

The UN Security Council has imposed an arms embargo against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and blacklisted the son of Yemen's former president and a Houthi leader.

Fourteen members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, Russia being the only abstention.

The Russian representative explained the move by saying that not all of Moscow’s proposals had been included in the final text drafted by Jordan and Gulf Arab states.

"The co-sponsors refused to include the requirements insisted upon by Russia addressed to all sides to the conflict to swiftly halt fire and to begin peace talks," Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council after the vote.

The resolution also blacklisted Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, as well as the son of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Jordanian draft resolution was being debated alongside a separate Russian draft, which called for a “humanitarian pause” in airstrikes by the Saudi-led military coalition.

An all-inclusive arms embargo on all parties in the Yemeni conflict, suggested earlier by Russia as an amendment to the Arab draft, was rejected.

READ MORE: US, UK thank Russia for evacuation of their citizens from Yemen

"We insisted that the arms embargo needs to be comprehensive; it's well known that Yemen is awash in weapons," Churkin said. "The adopted resolution should not be used for further escalation of the armed conflict."

The Shiite Houthi rebels took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in September 2014, forcing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia. They are now fighting for the strategic port city of Aden.

The Houthi offensive is supported by soldiers loyal to Saleh, who was forced to give up power in Yemen after a 33-year rule in 2012.

Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies have been bombing the Houthi rebels since March 25, with over 1,000 people killed since the start of the conflict.

Al-Houthi and the ex-president’s eldest son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, will face an asset freeze and travel ban in accordance with the sanctions.

Last November, UNSC imposed the similar sanctions on former President Saleh, the rebel group’s military commander Abd al-Khaliq al-Houthi and the Houthi’s second-in-command, Abdullah Yahya al Hakim.

The resolution also urged “Member States, in particular States neighboring Yemen, to inspect ... all cargo to Yemen” if they have reasonable grounds to believe it contains weapons.

The document demanded all Yemeni parties to stop fighting, especially the Houthis, who are called upon to withdraw from Sanaa and other areas they have seized.

It also blamed ex-President Saleh for "destabilizing actions" in Yemen, including supporting the Houthi uprising.

Following the arms embargo by the Security Council, the US Treasury Department announced unilateral sanctions against Yemeni rebel leader al-Houthi and the former head of Yemen's Republican Guard, Ahmed Saleh.

Yemen's Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Committee condemned the UN Security Council resolution, saying the move supported “aggression.”

The governing body said it “calls on the masses of the Yemeni people to rally and protest on Thursday to condemn the Security Council resolution in support of the aggression,” local television reported.

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