Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, November 2014
Creative Destruction in the Middle East:
Scores of Arabs Killed and Injured in the Failing States of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya
November 12, 2014
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At least 33 dead in Yemeni clashes, U.S. drone kills seven
By Mohammed Ghobari
SANAA Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:22am EST
At least 33 people have been killed in central Yemen in fighting in the past two days between Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters trying to expand their control and Sunni tribes allied with al Qaeda, residents said on Wednesday.
Residents said tribesmen and allied Ansar al-Sharia militants in the Qifa area, home to powerful Sunni tribes in al-Baydah province, had captured several hilltops, including al-Thaaleb (foxes) mountain overlooking an al Qaeda stronghold that had been seized by the Houthis.
Yemeni military sources said a U.S. drone had killed seven suspected al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen while they were on their way to carry out an attack.
Yemen, a U.S. ally which shares a long border with the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, has been engulfed in political turmoil since mass protests ousted its veteran president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2011.
The Houthis, who captured the Yemeni capital Sanaa almost without a fight in September and forced the government to resign, are continuing to expand across the country despite the formation of a new government bringing in supporters of the group and representatives of southern Yemeni separatists.
The Houthis hail mainly from the north.
They have objected to some members of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah's new team, saying they do not meet criteria agreed in a September power-sharing deal.
In the southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military sources said a U.S. drone destroyed a Hilux truck carrying at least seven militants on their way to an attack in the city of Azzan.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula often attacks government troops in southern Yemen, which sometimes draws drone strikes. Washington acknowledges using drones in Yemen but does not comment publicly on the practice.
(Reporting by Mohamemd Ghobari and Reyam Mukhashaf in Aden, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Ralph Boulton)
Bomb attacks kill 23 people in Iraq
Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:59am EST
(Reuters) - Suicide bombings and car bombs, including an attack on federal police headquarters, killed 23 people in Iraq on Wednesday, police, military and medical sources said.
A car bomb, followed shortly afterwards by a suicide bombing, killed 11 people at the police building in al-Nisour Square in Baghdad, including six policemen. Twenty-one people were wounded.
In Diyala province north of Baghdad, Army Colonel Faisal al-Zuhairi was killed when a suicide bomber in a Humvee attacked his convoy. Five of his men also died.
A suicide bomber in a car packed with explosives attacked an army checkpoint in the town of Yusifiya, 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad. Six people were killed and 20 wounded, police said.
Islamic State militants swept through northern Iraq in June and took control of large areas of the Sunni Muslim west of the country, seizing Humvees, tanks and armored vehicles from defeated Iraqi government troops.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday he intended to remove concrete security barriers from Baghdad and give a greater role to police in protecting the capital, despite little respite from the car bombs the barriers were designed to thwart.
Abadi praised what he called "excellent" security operations in Baghdad, and his comments suggested he aimed to reduce the army's security role in the city of 7 million people.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Saif Sameer; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Andrew Roche)
U.S.-led strikes have killed 865 people in Syria, 50 civilians: monitor
Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:15am EST
Air strikes by U.S.-led forces in Syria have killed 865 people, including 50 civilians, since the start of the campaign in late September against Islamic State militants, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the majority of the deaths, 746, were Islamic State fighters and that the actual figure could be much higher. Islamic State has seized tracts of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq, where it has also been targeted by U.S.-led forces since July.
Eight of the civilians killed were children, the Observatory said. It said 68 members of al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front were also killed in the air strikes, which started early on Sept. 23.
Coalition strikes have hit the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Deir al-Zor, Hasaka, Raqqa and Idlib, the Observatory said.
The United States has said it takes reports of civilian casualties seriously and says it has a process to investigate each allegation.
Washington justified its action in Syria under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defense against armed attack.
Around 200,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict, which is now in its fourth year, according to the United Nations.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Toby Chopra)
Kurds gain ground but not control in struggle for Syrian border town
By Rasha Elass and Hamdi Istanbullu
Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:02am EST
Syrian Kurds backed by fighters from northern Iraq have gained ground towards breaking the siege of the Syrian border town of Kobani but are drawing heavy fire from Islamic State insurgents and have yet to win back control.
Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga, or "those who face death", arrived with armoured vehicles and artillery more than a week ago to try to repulse a more than month-old siege that has tested a U.S.-led coalition's ability to halt the Islamist insurgents.
Known in Arabic as Ayn al-Arab, the town is among a few areas in civil war-ridden Syria where the coalition can coordinate air strikes against Islamic State with operations by an effective ground force.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fierce overnight clashes between Kurdish and Islamic State forces along Kobani's southern front, combined with heavy artillery fire by peshmerga, yield new gains for the Kurds.
The Observatory quoted sources around Kobani as saying the radical Sunni Muslim insurgents had been surprised by the resilience of the Kurdish forces and that the battle for the town had killed hundreds of Islamic State combatants.
Kurdish forces have retaken some villages around Kobani but a Reuters correspondent on the Turkish side of the border said the front lines in the town itself appeared little changed, with the insurgents still controlling its eastern part.
Mortar bombs launched from Islamic State positions hit the center of town on Tuesday and there were exchanges of machinegun fire as jets flew overhead. The Observatory said coalition planes launched three air strikes south of Kobani overnight.
Idris Nassan, a local official in Kobani, estimated that Islamic State now controlled less than 20 percent of the town and that heavy artillery salvoes by peshmerga had helped the Kurds to advance to the south and east.
Peshmerga fighters, positioned on a hill on the western side of the town, launched rockets at a building where Islamic State had raised its black flag, according to a Reuters witness.
A video on YouTube distributed by Islamic State supporters showed fighters purportedly in Syria's northern province of Raqqa promising to reinforce Kobani.
"God's servants have prepared the explosives and bombs ... We are coming with the sword and the Koran ... We tell our brothers in (Kobani) that we’re coming to support you," one of the insurgents said in the video.
Car bombs wound at least 20 in east Libya as chaos mounts
Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:32am EST
Car bombs exploded in eastern Libyan towns under the control of the internationally-recognized government on Wednesday, wounding at least 20 people, officials said.
Libya is in growing chaos as armed factions compete for power. One has taken over the capital Tripoli, setting up its own government and parliament and forcing the elected parliament and administration of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to move east.
One car bomb went off in a busy street in the eastern city of Tobruk near the Egyptian border, where the elected parliament is based in a hotel.
"Twenty people have been wounded," said Saleh Hashem, a lawmaker. "Nobody was killed."
Another blast was near the military airport of Labraq, used by al-Thinni, now based in nearby Bayda east of Benghazi.
A security source said up to four soldiers had been killed in the Labraq blast, but there was no confirmation.
Another security source said two people had been killed in the Tobruk bombing, but other officials said there were only wounded.
A third car bomb exploded in the main eastern city of Benghazi, where the Libyan army and a renegade former general are fighting Islamists, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Between Tobruk and Bayda lies Derna, a hotspot for radical Islamists, where dozens of youths two weeks ago pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Unidentified aircraft carried out strikes on Derna on Wednesday, local residents said. There were no details of targets or casualties.
International attempts to mediate in the conflict have failed to produce a holding ceasefire or bring the major armed groups to the table.
Rivalries among factions who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 have hit oil supplies, with gunmen last week attacking the huge El Sharara oilfield and forcing its shutdown after guards fled the site, which can produce 340,000 barrels a day.
The U.N. and major powers recognize the House of Representatives and Thinni's government. But Libya's Supreme Court, still based in Tripoli, last week declared last week the House of Representatives unconstitutional.
A U.N. special envoy held talks on Tuesday for the first time with the head of the self-declared parliament in Tripoli as part of efforts to find a negotiated solution to the North African country's deepening conflict.
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