Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, April 2015
Heavy Clashes Erupt on the Saudi-Yemeni Border, After a Week of Saudi-Led Air Strikes on Yemeni Houthis
April 1, 2015
Yemen action ‘to continue until Hadi is back in power’
Arab News, April 1, 2015
The operation in Yemen would continue until the legitimate government
is back in power, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said on
“Saudi Arabia has spared no effort, along with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and international parties, to reach a peaceful solution that will defeat the conspiracy against Yemen, solve its problems, and return it to a path of construction and development rather than bloodshed,” he said.
He said the Houthi militia and “agents of the former president, supported by Iran, insist on meddling in Yemen.” These forces had rejected all attempts to resolve the situation peacefully, and stolen weapons to carry out their “seditious” actions in Yemen, said Prince Saud.
“We are not warmongers, but if the drums of war are beaten, we are ready for them. The security of Yemen is part and parcel of the security of the Kingdom, the Gulf and Arabs. The coalition was in response to a distress call from a neighboring country with legitimate leadership, appealing for an end to the tampering with Yemen ...”
Prince Saud also described the situation in Syria as a tragedy, which has now seen over 500,000 people killed, including those not declared, and more than 11 million displaced.
He said Saudi Arabia has called for the end of this humanitarian disaster by having the international community implement the resolutions of the Geneva 1 Declaration, which calls for the formation of a transitional governing body with wide political, security and military powers.
This body should not have the current president Bashar Assad on it or those who have blood on their hands. This would enable Syria to restore itself to its former glory, he said.
Referring to the situation in Iraq, the minister said: “Baghdad has suffered at the hands of several of its sons, driven by external parties desiring discord, division and rivalry. They did not desist from committing crimes and spreading hatred.”
He said he was optimistic when the new Iraqi government was formed, especially when it announced its intention to rebuild the country by including all citizens regardless of race, sect or doctrine, and eradicating terrorism and disbanding armed militias.
He said the Kingdom has shown its commitment to the new government by opening its embassy in Baghdad, in addition to its participation in the international coalition to fight the terrorist Islamic State organization.
Speaking on Iran, the minister said: “We were pleased when the Iranians called their revolution the Islamic Revolution. We were expecting it would champion Arab and Islamic causes, and help consolidate security and stability in the region. But we were surprised by the policy of exporting the revolution and destabilizing the region’s security and peace.”
This policy has seen other countries raise questions about the motives of Iran, he said. “Today, we are not going to condemn Iran, but we will test its intentions by extending our hands to it as a Muslim neighbor to open a new page.”
He said the Kingdom does not want to destabilize Iran because it is considered a civilized and Muslim country that follows the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, the Prophet (peace be upon him).
It is the duty of the Kingdom to support such a country, he said.
Pentagon backing for Arab military force
Carter told reporters during a visit to Fort Drum in New York that US military leaders who met him abroad thought that regional members of the coalition fighting ISIS should be encouraged to do more if they were able to.
“So, I think if they are willing to do more, in this case with respect to Yemen, then that is a good thing because ultimately it is their region. The willingness of the parties there to step up and do more for stability in the Middle East is a good thing,’ Carter said.
Asked if the US military would cooperate with the new force, he said it would.
“There are partners and security allies of ours, and when they act in a way that we regard as in our interests as well as theirs, we will continue to partner with them as we have been in other matters,” Carter added.
The European Union has meanwhile welcomed the announcement by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, that Saudi Arabia was ready to hold talks with all parties in Yemen who are adhering to the security and stability of that country.
In a statement issued in Brussels, a EU spokesperson said Europe appreciates the gesture for political dialogue by the King, Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Foreign Minister Riad Yassin that the door remains open for a political dialogue.
Heavy clashes on Saudi-Yemeni border; Hadi government pleads for troops
ADEN, Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:21pm EDT
By Mohammad Mukhashaf and Sami Aboudi
Saudi troops clashed with Yemeni Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemen's foreign minister called for a rapid Arab intervention on the ground.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Arab states since last Thursday in an air campaign against the Shi'ite Houthis, who emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country when they seized Yemen's capital last year.
The Saudis say their aim is to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who left the country last week. The Houthis are allied with Saudi Arabia's regional foe Iran, and backed by army units loyal to longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was pushed out three years ago after "Arab Spring" demonstrations.
The conflict has brought civil war to a country already on the verge of chaos and forced Washington to evacuate its personnel from one of the main battlefields in the covert U.S. drone war against al Qaeda.
Residents and tribal sources in north Yemen reported artillery and rocket exchanges along several stretches of the Saudi border. Explosions and heavy gunfire were heard and Saudi helicopters flew overhead, they said.
In the southern port of Aden, Houthi fighters and allied army units pressed an offensive against forces loyal to Hadi, trying to capture the last remaining major stronghold of the absent president's forces.
At least 36 people were killed when Houthi forces shelled Hadi loyalists in Aden. Jets from the Saudi-led coalition bombed Houthi positions near the airport.
Further west, Houthi fighters entered a coastal military base overlooking the Red Sea's strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait, local officials said, when soldiers of the 17th Armoured Division opened the gates to the facility.
The Bab el-Mandeb shipping lane, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, is a vital energy gateway for more than 3 million barrels of oil passing daily to Europe, Asia and the United States.
Hadi's rump government, now based in Saudi Arabia, called for Riyadh to escalate the air war into an invasion.
Asked by an interviewer on pan-Arab television channel al-Arabiya Hadath whether he sought an Arab ground intervention, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen responded: "Yes, we are asking for that, and as soon as possible, in order to save our infrastructure and save Yemenis under siege in many cities."
Saudi authorities say they have gathered troops along the border in preparation for any possible ground offensive, but have given no timetable to send them in. Pakistan has also said it is sending troops to support Saudi Arabia.
"There could be a limited ground operation, in specific areas, at specific times. But don't expect there to be an automatic resort to a ground operation," said Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition.
"I don't want us to concentrate on the land operation as if it is a 'must' ... if it is possible to achieve the goals through other means."
In the southern city of Dhalea, residents reported heavy fighting, with southern secessionist fighters trading artillery fire with Houthis backed up by army units loyal to Saleh.
Repeated air strikes hit Houthi and allied positions, including an ammunition store at a military base, which caused huge explosions. An eyewitness said nine southern fighters were killed, along with around 30 Houthi and allied fighters.
In the east of the country, on the border between Shabwa and Marib province, at least 15 Houthi gunmen and their allies were killed in a clash with tribal fighters, local sources said.
The Houthis are backed by military units still loyal to Saleh, himself a member of their Zaidi sect, who fought to crush the Houthis while in power but has now allied with them.
YEARS OF UNREST
Saudi Arabia has a history of wielding influence in its poorer neighbor and fought a brief and indecisive ground conflict against the Houthis in the border area in 2009 while supporting then-leader Saleh.
The civil war comes after years of unrest and disintegrating central authority in a country also dealing with tribal discontent and al Qaeda's most potent regional branch, as well as a southern secessionist movement.
Saleh's decision to ally with the Houthis tips the regional balance of power away from Saudi Arabia and toward Iran, a feud also being played out on battlefields in Syria and Iraq. The crisis is the first big foreign policy test for Saudi Arabia's new king, Salman, and the kin he has elevated to top posts.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian called the Saudi strikes a "strategic mistake". He said Tehran had a proposal to end the conflict and was trying to reach out to Riyadh. He gave no details.
"Iran and Saudi Arabia can cooperate to solve the Yemeni crisis," he said in Kuwait. "We recommend all parties in Yemen return to calm and dialogue."
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said the operation would continue until it restored security and unity to Yemen.
"We are not the ones calling for war. But if you bang the drums of war, we are ready for it," he told the kingdom's Shura Council advisory body.
While the strikes have not halted the Houthi advance, the Saudi-led coalition says it has succeeded in closing off Yemeni airspace to Houthi supporters and imposing a naval blockade.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said one of its planes had been prevented from delivering medical supplies in Sanaa, and called for "the urgent removal of obstacles to the delivery to Yemen of vital medical supplies needed to treat casualties".
It also called on all combatants to allow humanitarian workers to operate safely. A Yemeni Red Crescent volunteer was shot dead on Monday in Dhalea while evacuating wounded people.
(Additional reporting by Noah Browning and William Maclean in Dubai, Angus McDowall in Riyadh, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Peter Graff and Kevin Liffey)
Explosion at Yemen factory kills at least 25: residents, medics
ADEN, Wed Apr 1, 2015 5:59am EDT
An explosion at a dairy factory in Yemen's Hodaida port killed at least 25 workers, medical sources said, with conflicting accounts attributing the blast to an air strike by a Saudi-led alliance or to a rocket landing from a nearby army base.
The incident would appear to be one of the biggest cases of civilian deaths since a Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign against Houthi militia on March 26.
The 26September website of Yemen's factionalized army, which mostly sides with the Houthis, said 37 workers were killed and 80 wounded at the dairy and oils factory "during the aggressive air strikes which targeted the two factories last night."
Medical sources in the city said 25 workers at the plant had been killed at the factory, which was located near an army camp loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally.
Residents and witnesses contacted by Reuters said the air strikes had targeted the factory shortly after midnight on Wednesday. Others said rockets fired from the base - possibly as retaliation against the bombings - hit the factory.
The operation by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states aims to prevent the Houthis and former Saleh from winning control of the country. They instead want to reinstate Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Air strikes overnight hit Houthi positions along the Saudi border in Yemen's far North, an army bases in the central highlands, air defense infrastructure in the eastern Marib province, and a coast guard position near Hodaida.
After the week-long campaign targeting Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh, the coalition has failed to secure Hadi's control over his last remaining enclave in the southern port of Aden a key aim of the campaign.
INDIAN NATIONALS EVACUATED
The sound of gunfire and several large blasts were heard in Aden throughout the night, a Reuters reporter said. Videos posted online, whose authenticity Reuters could not immediately confirm, appeared to show fighting at an army base loyal to Saleh in the northeast of the city.
A raid at a coastal defense station at Maidi port in Hajja province north of Hodaida killed six soldiers, workers there said, while further strikes hit an army camp in Sanaa and a government facility in Saadeh in the north of Yemen.
In New York, UNICEF said late on Tuesday that at least 62 children had been killed and 30 wounded in fighting over the past week, and the United Nations said an attack on a refugee camp in northern Yemen, which medics blamed on an air strike, broke international law.
An Indian naval patrol boat picked up nearly 350 Indian nationals from the port of Aden on Tuesday night, and was expected to arrive in Djibouti during the day, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said.
More than 4,000 Indians - more than half of them nurses - are believed to have been in Yemen when Saudi Arabia launched air strikes last week.
Negotiations are under way to allow evacuation flights into Sanaa, where the Indian community is concentrated, and receive permission to evacuate more from Hodaida, the spokesman said.
(Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo and Mohammed Mukhashaf and Sami Aboudi in Aden; Writing by Angus McDowall, Editing by William Maclean and Jon Boyle)
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