Party of late Yemen ex-President Saleh names new head

The party that led Yemen for 30 years appointed a new chief in the midst of the country’s civil war. After switching sides twice, former party leader President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by Houthi rebels in December.

Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh (picture alliance/AP Photo/H. Mohammed)

The party of Yemen’s slain former President Ali Abdullah Saleh (pictured above) appointed a new chief on Sunday, the General People’s Congress Party announced at a press conference in the capital, Sanaa.

Sadek Amin Abu Raas is now the head of the party, which Saleh founded in 1982 and led until the wave of anti-authoritarianism brought on by the Arab Spring led to his ouster in 2012. He was replaced as president by his deputy Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

During his three-decade tenure, Saleh led several relatively successful military campaigns against the Houthis. After his expulsion, Saleh formed a surprise alliance with the Houthis, who were able take over Sanaa in 2014 with the backing of Iran.

He switched sides again in December 2017, announcing that he would support his one-time enemies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and President Hadi. He was then killed by a Houthi sniper while attempting to flee the capital later that same month.

President Hadi and the Houthis remained locked in a frozen civil war that is largely seen as a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, who have backed opposing sides. The conflict has caused more than 10,000 deaths – more than half of them civilians – and a deepening humanitarian crisis that has left many in Yemen without enough food, drinking water or medical supplies. Aid organizations have regularly complained about both sides blocking access to the most desperate areas of the country.

es/rc (dpa, Reuters)

COURTESY: DW

UN: Yemen’s ‘futile’ war kills scores of civilians in past 10 days

The top UN official in Yemen says all sides in the country’s conflict are indiscriminately killing civilians. He said airstrikes by the Saudi-led Arab coalition alone killed 68 noncombatants in one day.

Scene of air-raid aftermath

The United Nations on Thursday described the civil conflict in Yemen as an “absurd” war in which all parties, including a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, were showing a “complete disregard for human life.”

“This absurd war … has only resulted in the destruction of the country and the incommensurate suffering of its people, who are being punished as part of a futile military campaign by both sides,” the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said in a statement.

Wreckage of a car after an air strikeSaudi-led airstrikes often hit civilian areas

McGoldrick cited two air raids by the Saudi-led Arab coalition on December 26 that together claimed scores of civilian lives.

The first killed 54 civilians, including eight children, at a “crowded popular market” in Taez province, and the second in the Red Sea province of Hodeida killed 14 people from the same family, the statement said.

Infografik Bürgerkrieg im Yemem Monate ENG
Infografik Bürgerkrieg im Yemen Regionen ENG

Read more:

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– Yemen’s Houthis are using missiles ‘made in Iran,’ US says

– UN asks for record $22.5 billion for humanitarian aid in 2018

Another 41 civilians had been killed in other fighting in Yemen in the past 10 days, according to the statement.

“I remind all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition, of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to always distinguish between civilian and military objects,” McGoldrick said.

He said that the conflict in Yemen had no military solution and that negotiations were necessary to resolve it.

Watch video01:28

Saudi Arabia intercepts Houthi missile fired on Riyadh

Devastating conflict

The war in Yemen broke out in 2015 after Shiite Houthi rebels, with support from forces loyal to Yemen’s former president, the late Ali Abdullah Saleh, took over the capital, Sanaa, and much of the rest of the country. They are opposed by supporters of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose power base is in the southern port city of Aden.

The Arab coalition began flying airstrikes in the country in March 2015 in a bid to restore Hadi’s government and prevent what Saudi Arabia sees as a proxy bid by Iran to gain a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula. It stepped up its air campaign after December 19, when Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile fired at the Saudi capital, Riyadh, by the Houthi rebels.

Ballistic missile fired at Saudi ArabiaThe conflict has escalated further since the Houthis fired their missile at Saudi Arabia

The Saudi military intervention, which has included seemingly indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas, has met with widespread international condemnation.

By August 2016, at least 10,000 lives had been claimed by the Yemeni conflict, according to UN figures. The world body has not issued any current estimates.

The UN says the country is now in the grip the of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with about 8 million people threatened by imminent starvation. Yemen has also been afflicted by a cholera epidemic that has infected 1 million people.

Even before the war, Yemen was one of the Arab world’s poorest countries.

Watch video03:41

Yemen’s chaos deepens after death of ex-president – Q&A with Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator

tj/rt (AFP, Reuters)

COURTESY: DW

Yemen’s Houthi rebels fire missile at Saudi Arabia’s royal palace

Saudi Arabia intercepted the missile south of its capital Riyadh in a move likely to affect Yemen’s conflict. The Houthis had previously claimed similar attacks targeting an international airport and a province.

Riyadh general view

Houthi rebels in Yemen on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile at the al-Yamama royal palace in the Saudi capital Riyadh, said a spokesman for the group.

Minutes later, the Saudi-led coalition said it intercepted the ballistic missile south of the capital. “Coalition forces confirm intercepting an Iranian-Houthi missile targeting south of Riyadh. There are no reported casualties at this time,” the state-run Center for International Communication tweeted.

Coalition forces confirm intercepting an Iranian-Houthi missile targeting south of Riyadh. There are no reported casualties at this time.

A spokesman for the Houthi movement confirmed that a ballistic missile had targeted the royal court where they claimed a meeting of Saudi leaders was taking place on Tuesday.

Read more: Yemen: Between conflict and collapse

In November, the Houthis launched two ballistic rockets, with one aimed at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport and the other at the southwestern province of Assir.

According to Houthi-linked media, the Iran-aligned rebels said it fired the short-range Burkan H2 missiles at the time in response to “Saudi-American aggression and crimes against the people of Yemen.”

Never-ending war

In response to the earlier Houthi action, the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade to prevent what it claimed was Iran smuggling advanced military technology to the Shiite rebels.

Backed by loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis captured the Yemini capital Sanaa in 2014, forcing the country’s internationally-recognized government led by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign against the Houthis and their allies.

More than 15,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured since the conflict erupted, according to UN figures. The country has since been pushed to the brink of famine and prompted a cholera epidemic affecting nearly one million people.

ls/jm (Reuters, dpa)

COURTESY: DW

Haley slammed for attacking Iran’s ‘lawless behavior’ while ignoring plight of Yemeni civilians

Haley slammed for attacking Iran's 'lawless behavior' while ignoring plight of Yemeni civilians
The US envoy to the UN was slammed on social media over a speech blaming Iran for a missile launched at a Saudi airport last month. Some accuse Nikki Haley of lying, while others say she’s ignoring Yemeni civilians’ struggles.

Delivering a speech at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling military installation in Washington DC, Haley stood in front of the exact missile that was intercepted by Saudi Arabia on November 4. “As you know, we do not usually declassify this type of military equipment recovered from these attacks. But today, we are taking an extraordinary step of presenting it here, in an open setting,” she said.

READ MORE: US rep to UN shows ‘evidence’ of Iran’s missile in Yemen, promises coalition against Tehran

Haley blamed the missile attack on Iran, alleging that it supplied the weapon to Yemeni Houthi rebels. “The Iranian regime cannot be allowed to engage in its lawless behavior any longer… the fight against Iranian aggression is the world’s fight,” the UN envoy stated, stressing that Riyadh’s civilian airport was the intended target of the missile attack.

The Iranian government has yet to respond to Haley’s Thursday speech.

“The fight against Iranian aggression is the world’s fight… This missile was used to attack an international civilian airport in Saudi Arabia. Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK, or the airports in Paris, London, or Berlin.”

Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of being behind the missile attack, which was successfully intercepted. Riyadh has also called for sanctions to be placed on Tehran over the attack.

However, not everyone is so convinced that Haley’s words are entirely true. Social media backlash has rolled in at full speed, with podcaster John Aravosis saying there is “zero reason to believe anything Nikki Haley is saying right now about Iran. She represents a pathological liar…”

There is zero reason to believe anything Nikki Haley is saying right now about Iran. She represents a pathological liar. Sad to say, we have zero credibility on the world stage right now. No one should believe a word Haley is saying. Sadly.

Meanwhile, the leader of the National Iranian American Council, Trita Parsi, accused Haley of “laying the groundwork for a US-Iran war on behalf of Saudi Arabia,” and questioned why Washington is treating Saudi interests as American interests.

Make no mistake: What Nikki Haley is doing right now is laying the groundwork for a US-Iran war on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

Reporters should ask her why the Trump Admin treats Saudi Arabia’s interest as America’s interest?

Others took issue with Haley for ignoring the fact that the Saudi-led coalition – which is supported by the US – continues to bomb civilians who are experiencing a humanitarian crisis.

Nikki Haley is a criminal liar.

In Yemen thousands are dead, a million with cholera, millions in need of food and medical aid suffering from the US war on Yemen and blockade and Haley gives a pathetic presentation accusing Iran of helping Yemenis fight back.

Millions of Yemenis are starving to death because of US-blessed Saudi war on Yemen, @nikkihaley blames Iran. 🙃 💀 👹

One person attacked Haley’s “stupid thoughts,” accusing the US of being engaged in “lawless behavior for many decades.”

Actually the American regime has been engaging in lawless behavior for many decades & is not one to talk. Nikki Haley should keep her stupid thoughts to herself.  & those who work for him have proven themselves to be an embarrassment to intelligent patriotic Americans. https://twitter.com/FoxNews/status/941355592601481217 

Some compared Haley’s speech to one made to the UN by former US national security adviser Colin Powell in 2003, in which he justified the George W. Bush administration’s rationale for the war in Iraq, citing the country’s alleged weapons program. Last year, Powell referred to that speech as a “blot” on his record, as no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq.

@nikkihaley’s latest «revelations» are fairly reminiscent of something we’ve already seen. How many times can the same ol’ trick be used over and over again?

Nikki Haley’s speech errily reminds me of Colin Powell’s speech to United Nations laying out the Bush administration’s rationale for war in Iraq.    

The Saudi-led coalition launched an aerial campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015, and later began a ground operation. The coalition is allied to Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia when the Houthis took power in Yemen. At least 5,000 civilians have died as a result of the country’s civil war, accordingto UN figures. More than 8,500 people have been injured in the fighting.

Meanwhile, Washington continues to support its ally Saudi Arabia, and has continuously cited threats posed by Riyadh’s arch rival Tehran. In May, US President Donald Trump struck an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the value of which totaled $350 billion. The agreement was aimed at bolstering security “in the face of Iranian threats.”

Tensions between the US and Iran were exacerbated after Trump refused to certify Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal in October. Trump has frequently slammed what he calls the “worst deal ever negotiated,” which was agreed between Iran and six world powers under the Barack Obama administration. Earlier this month, Iran’s foreign minister told RT that Iran has “options” if the US pulls out of the deal, and that he doesn’t believe those options “will be very pleasant for the United States.”

Courtesy: RT

Yemen’s ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh killed

Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed by Houthi fighters, his political party has confirmed. His death comes days after he abruptly ended a three-year-old alliance with Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen.

Watch video01:06

Yemen’s Saleh killed by Houthi rebels

Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed on Monday following clashes between Saleh loyalists and Iran-aligned Houthi militants, days after their three-year-old alliance collapsed.

Officials of Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party said he had been killed outside the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The Houthis’ Interior Ministry said Saleh was killed by rebels from the Shiite group.

Read more: Yemen: Between conflict and collapse

“The Interior Ministry announces the end of the crisis of militias and the killing of their leader and a number of his criminal supporters,” an anchor from Houthi-affiliated Al-Masirah television said, referring to armed supporters of Saleh. The channel referred to Saleh and those who remained loyal to him as “traitors.”

There were conflicting reports as to how the ex-president was killed. According to Houthi media, fighters blew up Saleh’s house in Sanaa earlier on Monday, amid aerial attacks by Saudi-led coalition warplanes acting in support of the former president. The rebels reportedly stormed the house and confiscated weapons, before destroying the building.

However, Saleh’s party said the ex-president had been killed outside Sanaa.

From unification to civil war

Saleh announced the end of his alliance with the Houthis on Saturday. He had jointly ruled the Yemeni capital with the Iran-aligned rebels for three years.

The 75-year-old Saleh had previously ruled Yemen for more than three decades after the country’s unification but was toppled in 2012 after popular and political pressure during the so-called Arab Spring.

Read more: Yemen’s war explained in 4 key points

In late 2014, Houthis backed by Saleh loyalists captured the capital, prompting Yemen’s internationally recognized government led by Hadi to flee to Aden. By March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition had launched  a deadly aerial campaign against the rebels.

More than 15,000 people have been killed, roughly half of them civilians, according to the UN.

The devastation has pushed the country to the brink of famine and prompted a cholera epidemic affecting nearly a million people.

ls/tj (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Courtesy: DW

Supreme Court permits full enforcement of Trump travel ban

Handing the White House a huge judicial victory, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of President Trump’s travel ban affecting residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

The justices said the policy can take full effect despite multiple legal challenges against it that haven’t yet made their way through the legal system.

The ban applies to people from Syria, Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Lower courts had said people from those countries with a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be prevented from entry.

Grandparents and cousins were among the relatives courts said could not be excluded.

A big win for the Trump administration.

The nine-member high court said in two one-page orders late Monday afternoon that lower court rulings that partly blocked the ban should be put on hold while appeals courts in Richmond, Va., and San Francisco take up the case.

Liberal-leaning Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have left the lower court orders in place.

The justices offered no explanation for their order, but the administration had said that blocking the full ban was causing “irreparable harm” because the policy is based on legitimate national security and foreign policy concerns.

Both courts are scheduled to hear arguments in those cases this week.

Both courts are also dealing with the issue on an accelerated basis, and the Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch.”

Quick resolution by appellate courts would allow the Supreme Court to hear and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley called the ban “lawful and essential to protecting our homeland.”

Judge argues the updated ban simply continues President Trump's 'promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.'

Gidley added in a written statement, “We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts.”

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to allow us to fulfill this most vital mission performed by any sovereign nation.  DHS will continue to fully implement the President’s robust and Constitutional counterterrorism agenda in accordance with the law,” the Department of Homeland Security’s acting press secretary, Tyler Q. Houlton, said.

Trump’s travel ban has been challenged in separate lawsuits by Hawaii and the American Civil Liberties Union. Both have argued the ban discriminates against Muslims and should not go into effect under immigration laws.

“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret — he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones. We will be arguing Friday in the Fourth Circuit that the ban should ultimately be struck down.”

Trump issued his first travel ban within days of being sworn in as president. That version tightened the country’s refugee and visa policies and suspended almost all refugee admissions for four months.

Trump issued a revised version in March after the first was blocked by federal courts. The second one expired in September after a lengthy court fight and was replaced with the current version.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Courtesy: Fox News

Yemen: Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh seeks dialogue amid escalating violence

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he is ready for a “new page” in ties with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, in a bid to end nearly three years of war. His call was welcomed by the Saudi coalition.

People gather at the site of an air strike in Sanaa (Reuters/K. Abdullah)

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former president, said Saturday he was willing to talk with Saudi leaders as his coalition with Iran-backed rebels appeared to be crumbling.

Saleh’s overture came as his fighters battled Houthi rebels for a fourth day in the capital, Sanaa.

Watch video26:00

Middle East tensions: A new war?

“I call on our brothers in neighboring countries … to stop their aggression and lift the blockade … and we will turn the page,” Saleh said in a televised speech.

“We vow to our brothers and neighbors that, after a ceasefire is in place and the blockade is lifted … we will hold dialogue directly through the legitimate authority represented by our parliament.”

His comments were welcomed by the Saudi-led coalition, which said in a statement that it was “confident of the will of the leaders and sons” of Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party to return to Arab fold.

Saudi leaders have fronted a coalition of Sunni Arab nations that have been fighting Saleh and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since early 2015. The Arab states recently imposed a total blockade on Yemen after a rebel missile was shot down near Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Sanaa has been rocked by an eruption of violence this past week between Saleh’s supporters and the Houthi rebels. Dozens of fighters have been killed and injured, and residents now fear a new front in an already brutal war.

Yemen's Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh gestures during a speech before a bank of microphones.Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades until he was forced to step down in 2012

Accused of betrayal

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that at least 80 people have been killed in this week’s clashes between forces loyal to Saleh and Houthis. Tensions between the former allies have grown in recent months, with Saleh supporters accusing the Houthis of trying to monopolize power.

The coalition accuses Saleh, who heads the GPC, of betraying his Arab neighbors by joining forces with the Houthi rebels. The Houthis are widely believed to have the support of Iran, with whom Saudi Arabia has been waging an increasingly tense political struggle for regional influence.

Watch video02:05

Tensions run high between Saudi Arabia, Iran

Meanwhile, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi called for dialogue with Saleh and his rebel forces to end the growing violence between the two factions.

In televised comments, al-Houthi called on Saleh to “be more mature” than his forces and to “let the General People’s Congress seek with us judgment of the sane and elders in this country. The wrongdoer then should be held responsible.”

Yemen is one of the Arab world’s poorest countries. Since 2015, it has been locked in a devastating civil war pitting Saudi-backed government forces against Iranian-supported rebels.

Yemen has become a humanitarian catastrophe, with more than 10,000 people killed in the fighting and at least 2 million displaced. A cholera outbreak has infected nearly 1 million people. The country is on the brink of famine.

Infografik Situation in Yemen ENG

mm,bik/cmk (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

COURTESY: DW

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