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Yemeni government confirms participation at peace talks

The government backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries has said it will send delegates to UN-backed peace talks. The last set of peace talks in September failed after Houthi rebels failed to show up. The Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemen confirmed on Monday that it would take part in peace talks sponsored by the United Nations. The government also called on the UN to "pressure" Yemen's Houthi rebels to attend the talks without conditions. The announcement coincided with a speech by Saudi Arabia's King Salman in which he reiterated his country's support for the UN efforts to end the war. The Iran-backed Houthis have fought a three-and-a-half-year-war with the Yemeni government and an alliance of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia UN envoy Martin Griffiths is set to travel to Yemen finalize arrangements for peace talks in Sweden. Both sides had previously given "firm assurances" to him that they would attend. On Sunday, Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi called on rebel fighters to stop attacks against the Saudi-led coalition and said the group was ready for a ceasefire. Attempts to hold peace talks in September failed after Houthi representatives failed to show up. Fighting has intensified recently around the port city of Hodeida, sparking fears that millions could face starvation in the event of a blockade. More than 10,000 people have died in the war, according to official figures, but activists say the actual death toll could be far higher.

The government backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries has said it will send delegates to UN-backed peace talks. The last set of peace talks in September failed after Houthi rebels failed to show up. The Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemen confirmed on Monday that it would take part in peace talks sponsored by the United Nations. The government ... Read More »

In Yemen’s war, locals struggle to stay neutral

Ever more Yemenis are siding with the Saudi coalition or Houthis to safeguard a salary and a semblance of protection. But some are determined to stay neutral, despite the obstacles they face. Mat Nashed reports. On the morning of October 6, Rahab* was hauled away from a student demonstration in the heart of Yemen's capital, Sanaa. Like her peers, she was fed up with soaring food prices and a lack of basic services, so she joined the protests against the Houthis who control the capital. The violent militia, which belongs to the Shiite offshoot Zaidi Islam, crushed the demonstration within minutes. "When the [Houthis] took me, I thought I was never coming back [home]," said Rahab, a 20-year-old activist. "Most of the protesters with me were women. The [Houthis] released us at night, but only after we signed a pledge not to protest again." Civilians in Sanaa are trapped between the repressive rule of the Houthis and the indiscriminate offensive of the Saudi-led coalition. The latter seeks to dislodge the former and reinstate the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. But Saudi Arabia's war has caused millions of Yemenis to starve by restricting imports and suspending salaries of more than a million civil servants in Houthi-held areas. The Houthis are reportedly exacerbating the crisis by kidnapping people for ransom. To survive, more people are picking sides in the war to earn a living or secure an exit from the country. But Rahab and others refuse to do so, leaving them with few advantages and little protection. "There are many other women who escaped [from Sanaa] to the city of Marib and I think many of them will be part of the Saudi alliance soon. But I'm also against Saudi Arabia's aggression," Rahab told DW. Fighting to survive The war has brought Sanaa to its knees and Yemenis are divided over who to blame. Residents say the city barely has electricity, pushing most people to burn coal or rely on solar energy for power. Fuel is also in short supply, but food and water are scarcer. Rami*, 29, said that the Houthis and the Saudi-coalition are equally responsible for ruining the city. "I hate them all. There are hardly any jobs in Sanaa unless you have personal connections with a political faction," he told DW. "Civilians are starving, and I hear that many people are stealing to feed their families now." Fighting appears to be the only source of reliable income, giving Saudi Arabia an advantage. Several people told DW that the Saudis lure fighters away from the Houthis by paying in their own currency, which is much stronger than the Yemeni rial. But Rami says that he would smuggle himself into Saudi Arabia before picking up arms. For now, he survives by selling plastic bags to shops that sell khat, which is an amphetamine-like stimulant that many Yemenis chew. "I hardly make money, but I will never fight. People have to allow themselves to be brainwashed to fight, but neither my friends nor I can do that," said Rami. Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, adds that people who are politically active have little space in Yemen to remain neutral. He says that false allegations can land people in jail and that the Houthis often detain perceived opponents. "People are putting each other in a box, so more people are thinking that they should just choose a side to get some benefits," Baron told DW. Neither the Saudi coalition nor the Houthis have attempted to safeguard civilians. As the former starves the country, the latter profiteers from the dire humanitarian crisis. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that the Houthis are holding opponents and perceived opponents hostage in secret prisons, where many are beaten with iron rods, whips and assault rifles. Many of the hostages are journalists and activists who have little to no affiliation with factions in the war. "In almost all cases the families of victims were asked to pay a ransom to secure the release of their loved ones, but many of these people are already very poor," Kristine Beckerle, the Yemen researcher for HRW, told DW. "It's awful because the Houthi leadership knows that [hostage-taking] is happening and they can stop it if they want." Rahab, the activist from the demonstration, considers herself lucky that she was released so soon. But since she's been warned, the consequences could be more severe if she protests again. For now, she focuses on aiding her people, and says that her community trusts her because she doesn't belong to any political or religious faction. With winter coming, her main priority is organizing an online group of volunteers to donate and distribute clothes to poorer Yemenis. Despite her best efforts, she remains pessimistic about the future. "Children, women and the elderly are dying daily, and all sides are accountable for the bloodshed," she said. "The war is also taking a psychological and emotional toll on me. It's not easy to watch an entire society die."

Ever more Yemenis are siding with the Saudi coalition or Houthis to safeguard a salary and a semblance of protection. But some are determined to stay neutral, despite the obstacles they face. Mat Nashed reports. On the morning of October 6, Rahab* was hauled away from a student demonstration in the heart of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. Like her peers, she ... Read More »

Israel and Saudi Arabia: New best friends in the Middle East?

In light of a shared perception of threat from Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia have opened a new chapter in diplomatic relations. The move could lead to an entirely new political power balance in the Middle East. In mid-November, Gadi Eizenkot, the chief of general staff of Israel's defense forces, landed a media coup. He described, in broad terms, how he viewed his country's relations with Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other. He did so in an interview with the Saudi Arabian website Elaph. Journalist Othman Al Omeir, who owns Elaph, also has very close ties to the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. That newspaper, in turn, is owned by the Saudi king. Thus, Eizenkot had pushed forth into the heart of the Saudi media scene. Read more: Saudi Arabia vs. Iran - from 'twin pillars' to proxy wars Eizenkot explained that Israel was prepared to share information as well as intelligence material with moderate Arab states in order to counter Iran. He answered the question of whether Israel had already shared intelligence with Saudi Arabia by quoting from a letter of intent: "We are prepared to share information when necessary. We have many common interests." He did, however, make one thing crystal clear: Iran is viewed by Israel as the "greatest threat to the region." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed a possible reorientation of Israeli-Saudi relations, albeit in general terms, and without directly referring to Saudi Arabia. Speaking at a memorial service on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the death of Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu talked of the "fruitful cooperation between Israel and the Arab world." He declined to go into detail but said he was confident that relations would grow. "This will enable us to continue working toward peace." Rhetorical concessions It appears that both countries are being particularly careful about communicating mutual rapprochement through unofficial channels. The fact that Eizenkot granted Elaph an interview can be seen as evidence of a deliberately defensive PR strategy. Anwar Ashki, a former general in the Saudi army, expressed himself in similar fashion. He emphasized that relations between both countries were only unofficial at this point, when speaking on DW's Arabic language show Massalya. Yet Ashki also led an Arab delegation visiting Jerusalem in July 2016. There, the delegation met with members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset. Officially, the talks conducted by both sides were about lending new impulses to the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative, which began in 2002 and is designed to ease tensions between Israel and the Arab world. Speaking on Massalya, Ashki underscored the fact that he had not been in Israel but rather in Jerusalem, "the capital of the Palestinians." Such statements are intended as concessions to broad swaths of the Arab world that must first get used to this new tone after decades of military and propaganda confrontation. Nevertheless, Ashki said that Saudi citizens are ready for rapprochement. The reason for this shift in public opinion is obvious. "It was not Israel that fired rockets at us, it was Iran," he said. "It is they who threaten our national security." Unsettling threat scenarios Ashki was referring to the latest escalation in the US-backed war that Saudi Arabia has been waging against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen for the last two-and-a-half years. In early November, the rebels fired rockets on the Saudi capital Riyadh from Yemeni territory. The missiles were intercepted by the Saudi air force. The Saudi government suspects that Iran, which supplied the rebels with rockets, of being behind the attack. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has continually ratcheted up diplomatic tension with Iran, positing the country as a threat to the kingdom's national security.

In light of a shared perception of threat from Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia have opened a new chapter in diplomatic relations. The move could lead to an entirely new political power balance in the Middle East. In mid-November, Gadi Eizenkot, the chief of general staff of Israel’s defense forces, landed a media coup. He described, in broad terms, how ... Read More »

US Air Force: Missiles fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen have ‘Iranian markings’

A top US general has claimed there is an Iranian role in missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi rebels. Heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia threaten to expand beyond Yemen into a regional war. Iran has helped Yemen's Houthi rebels develop ballistic missiles launched at Saudi Arabia, a top US Air Force official said Friday. "What we have seen, clearly from the results of the ballistic missile attacks, that there have been Iranian markings on those missiles, that's been demonstrated," Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who commands US Air Forces Central Command, told reporters. "To me that connects the dots to Iran in terms of who's providing those missiles and that capability." The comment further ratchets up tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia over Yemen at a time when a new crisis is brewing in Lebanon that threatens a broader regional conflict that could draw in the United States and Israel. It also comes as the United States and Iran are competing in eastern Syria as the fight against the "Islamic State" winds down, risking a new conflict across the Middle East. On November 4, Saudi Arabia intercepted a variant of the Volcano-1 (Burkan 2-H) long-range ballistic missile fired from Yemen toward the King Khalid International Airport near the capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia said this week that Iran helped the Houthis and that the ballistic missile launch was "a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war." The Foreign Ministry later said investigators found evidence proving "the role of Iranian regime in manufacturing" missiles, but did not provide the evidence or elaborate. French President Emmanuel Macron also said this week that the missile was "obviously" Iranian. Read more: Yemen's war explained in 4 key points Threat of more missile launches Houthi rebels have fired more than 70 ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia since the kingdom led a coalition military intervention in 2015. But the latest launch was the first time Houthis had targeted Riyadh, some 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of the border with Yemen. No deaths or damage were reported from the missile. Media tied to Houthi rebels claimed a short-range missile had been fired in response to "Saudi-American aggression and crimes against the people of Yemen," in a reference to US air refueling support and provision of weaponry to the Saudi-led coalition. Analysts say that the November 4 launch could presage further long-range ballistic missile strikes on major population centers in the Gulf States participating in the Saudi-led coalition as Houthi rebels seek to retaliate for airstrikes that have devastated Yemen. "The fact that they (Houthis) have the capability to strike Riyadh raises the political stakes as well as the cost of war for Saudi Arabia," April Longley, an expert on the Arabian Peninsula for the International Crisis Group, wrote in an analysis. "It also means that other Gulf cities may soon be in target range; on 8 November, the Houthis threatened further attacks on Saudi and Emirati ports and airports." "Given growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the US administration's eagerness to push back against Tehran, missile strikes by the Houthis in Gulf countries or in the Red Sea arguably are the single most dangerous trigger points for widening the conflict beyond Yemen to a regional confrontation," she added. How much influence does Iran have over Houthis? Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of arming the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies. Iran says it supports the Houthis politically and domestically, but denies arming them. Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group, wrote in an analysis that while Iran benefits from Saudi Arabia being stuck in a Yemen quagmire at a low cost, "it is unclear whether Iran exerts the kind of influence over the Houthis that would enable it to order or prevent such an attack." He cited previous instances of the Houthis ignoring Iran's advice and warned that "Iran ultimately might pay a price for actions by an allied group it does not control." Missile stockpiles The Houthis say the missile variants are produced domestically and are remnants of previous stockpiles. Yemen has had ballistic missiles dating back to the 1970s when the country was split between the north and south before reunification in 1990. When the Houthi rebels and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran the capital Sana'a in September 2014 they captured ballistic missile stockpiles. However, Saudi Arabia and the United States suspect Iran may be providing technical aid and parts to help advance the Houthi ballistic missile program. The Saudi-led coalition has a tight land, air and sea embargo over Yemen in order to block weapons transfers, making it difficult for Iran to supply ballistic missiles or components. The blockade was further expanded this week, prompting international concerns over supplies of humanitarian aid in a country on the brink of famine. Iran's Revolutionary Guard chief, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said earlier this week that Tehran can't transfer missiles to Yemen due to the blockade and that they were made there. Harrigian didn't provide information on the type of missile used against Riyadh or show images of debris. He also didn't explain how Iran may have got around the Saudi blockade. "How they got it there is probably something that will continue to be investigated over time," the lieutenant general said.

A top US general has claimed there is an Iranian role in missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia threaten to expand beyond Yemen into a regional war. Iran has helped Yemen’s Houthi rebels develop ballistic missiles launched at Saudi Arabia, a top US Air Force official said Friday. “What we ... Read More »

Saudi-led coalition blames Iran for Houthi missile attack

Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran for committing a possible "act of war" after a missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels targeted Riyadh. The rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up across the Middle East. The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen accused Iran on Monday of supplying the ballistic missile that targeted Riyadh, saying it could be considered an act of war. Saturday's missile launch is considered "a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the coalition said in a statement on the official Saudi Press Agency. The statement said the kingdom "reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner." On Saturday evening, Saudi Arabia's air defense forces intercepted a variant of the Volcano-1 ballistic missile fired from Yemen toward the King Khalid International Airport near the capital. No casualties or damage was reported. Media tied to Houthi rebels claimed a short-range missile had been fired in response to "Saudi-American aggression and crimes against the people of Yemen." In the statement, the Saudi-led coalition said it had examined the missile debris that landed in an uninhabited area and determined that Iran had manufactured the missile and smuggled it to Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of arming the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies. Trump backs Saudis Iran has supported the Shiite rebels, but denies arming them. Houthi rebels say the Volanco-1 ballistic missile variant is produced domestically. Houthi rebels have fired dozens of missiles toward Saudi Arabia, but Saturday's launch was the first time they had targeted Riyadh, some 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of the border with Yemen. On Sunday, US President Donald Trump joined Saudi Arabia in blaming Iran for the missile launch. "A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. And our system knocked it down," Trump said, referring to US-supplied Patriot missile batteries. Iran's Revolutionary Guard chief, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Iran can't transfer rockets to Yemen and that they were made there. He has called Trump's comments "lies." In response to Saturday's missile launch, Saudi Arabia said it would temporarily block all Yemeni ground, air, and sea ports while taking into account the work of humanitarian and aid organizations. The coalition has already set up a tight blockade on Yemen. Regional rivalries heating up The ultraconservative Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are locked in multiple regional rivalries, including proxy wars, as they vie for influence across the Middle East. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 in a bid to oust Houthi rebels allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, after they overran the capital, Sanaa, and large swaths of the country. The Saudi-led coalition is trying to restore power to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and counter what they say is Iranian influence in Saudi Arabia's backyard. More than two years on, the war against Houthi rebels has turned into a quagmire for the kingdom and its Arab allies. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and created one of the world's biggest humanitarian disasters. In another sign that Tehran and Riyadh's regional power struggle is heating up, the Saudi-backed prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, resigned on Saturday after he accused Iran and its Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah of taking control of the country and destabilizing the region. The resignation has plunged the country into a political crisis and raised the specter of civil war and a larger regional conflict. Hezbollah's increasing power across the region has also raised the prospect of conflict with Israel, whose leaders have suggested that it could launch a new war in Lebanon. Israel is concerned that Tehran is setting up a permanent position on its doorstep in Syria, where Iran and Hezbollah have backed President Bashar al-Assad against rebels in that country's civil war. Although traditionally foes, Saudi Arabia and Israel have aligned their interests across the Middle East as they seek to counter Iran's expanding influence.

Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran for committing a possible “act of war” after a missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted Riyadh. The rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up across the Middle East. The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen accused Iran on Monday of supplying the ballistic missile that targeted Riyadh, saying it could be ... Read More »

Yemen aid workers: ‘If ever there was a time for support, then it’s now’

As a UN donor conference nears, aid workers warn the humanitarian crisis in Yemen could worsen without more international support. An attempted rebellion and Saudi-led military intervention has led to severe famine. International funding for Yemen is urgently needed in response to widespread malnutrition and limited access to medical care caused by the war in the country, representatives of an aid organization active in Yemen reported Monday in Berlin. Roughly 17 million Yemenis are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, among them 7 million Yemenis exposed to extreme food shortages and almost 500,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five, aid organization CARE International reported. Ahead of a UN donor conference later in April, aid workers warned that more money was needed to stop the situation from spiraling further out of control. "If there was ever a time for support from the international community, then it's now," said Marten Mylius, an emergency help coordinator with CARE. Little money so far Less than 10 percent of the $2.1 billion (1.98 billion-euro) aid package sought by the UN for 2017 has been funded, according to the most recent UN numbers. The funding target is based on the projected costs of supplying basic provisions like food, water and shelter by those in need as a result of the war - more than 60 percent of Yemen's total population, according to CARE. Famine is a growing concern, representatives said. With South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, Yemen is likely to be a focal point of Western humanitarian help in the months ahead. The UN donor conference for the country is scheduled for April 25 in Geneva. Children suffer the most Ordinary Yemenis, and especially children, continue to bear the brunt of a bombing campaign started by Saudi Arabia in March 2015 to stop the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels against the internationally-recognized government in Sana'a. A Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports and restrictions imposed on Yemeni airspace have proven more devastating for the civilian population, limiting the arrival of critical supplies in a country that depends heavily upon imports for foodstuffs, and preventing Yemenis from escaping the country. The war has killed more than 10,000 people, according to a January UN estimate. More than 4,700 civilians had been killed and 8,200 injured as of March, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights reported. Roughly 2.2 million children in Yemen were malnourished as of December, "an all-time high and increasing," according to UNICEF. 'Unacceptable' conditions CARE representatives criticized the use of food or medical access as forms of leverage, even as they avoided criticizing specific nations or groups. They called pointedly for the lifting of blockades and airspace restrictions. "It's simply unacceptable," said CARE general secretary Karl-Otto Zentel. "It's unheard of that civilians severely injured in war are unable to be treated on location but can't be evacuated out of the country. These are unacceptable conditions." Despite the extent of suffering on the ground, the war in Yemen receives less attention in the West than conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where NATO forces are active. In Yemen, several NATO powers are providing intelligence and logistical support to the Saudis' coalition, but stopping short of airstrikes. The conflict still has global consequences, seen by many observers as part of the broader regional struggle between Sunni power Saudi Arabia, a US ally, and Shiite Iran, which supports the rebels. UN funding has yet to match the projected need for the country. In 2016, the organization received only 62 percent of the $1.6 billion sought. Of that total, CARE received $13.7 million for Yemen projects.

As a UN donor conference nears, aid workers warn the humanitarian crisis in Yemen could worsen without more international support. An attempted rebellion and Saudi-led military intervention has led to severe famine. International funding for Yemen is urgently needed in response to widespread malnutrition and limited access to medical care caused by the war in the country, representatives of an ... Read More »

Saudi-led warplanes pound Yemen after ceasefire ends

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has resumed airstrikes in Sanaa, hours after a three-day truce expired in Yemen. The ceasefire was declared in order to supply crucial humanitarian aid to civilians. Yemen's government continued to blame Shiite Houthi rebels for not upholding the 72-hour truce, forcing the Saudi-led coalition to strike targets in the capital, Sanaa. "The [Houthi] coup militias deliberately thwarted the truce, and that further convinced our military and political leadership of their unwillingness to accept peace," Yemen's army chief of staff Mohammed Ali al-Miqdashi told reporters. Airstrikes were reported from military sites near Sanaa, in the Hafa camp towards the east and the Nahdein area in the south. Planes also targeted the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeida and Taiz, the Reuters news agency reported residents as saying. Fierce fighting was also reported in the country's northern regions along the border with Saudi Arabia. Ten rebels and four Yemeni soldiers were killed over the weekend, media agencies reported. The strikes occurred hours before UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad, arrived in Sanaa for talks with Houthi representatives. Ahmad had earlier appealed for an extension of the truce to enable humanitarian aid to reach war-ravaged areas. "We noted over the last days that food and humanitarian supplies were provided to several affected neighborhoods and that UN personnel were able to reach areas that were previously inaccessible," Ahmad said on Saturday. He had appealed to parties to extend the ceasefire, which began on Wednesday, for another 72 hours. But Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mekhlafi said the call was "useless" because rebels were ignoring the truce. "We respect the UN envoy's call for an extension, but in effect, there was no truce due to the violations" by the rebels, Mekhlafi told the Agence France-Presse news agency. Nearly 7,000 people have died since early last year, when Saudi Arabia formed a coalition to prevent Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels from deposing President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and taking over the country. Hadi is now in exile in Riyadh. The war has plunged the country into chaos, with millions facing starvation and an acute shortage of medical supplies.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has resumed airstrikes in Sanaa, hours after a three-day truce expired in Yemen. The ceasefire was declared in order to supply crucial humanitarian aid to civilians. Yemen’s government continued to blame Shiite Houthi rebels for not upholding the 72-hour truce, forcing the Saudi-led coalition to strike targets in the capital, Sanaa. “The [Houthi] coup militias deliberately ... Read More »

UN announces agreement on 72-hour Yemen ceasefire

The UN has announced that all warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a three-day ceasefire, due to start on Wednesday night. International pressure is rising after the failure of several previous truce efforts. The announcement came a day after the United States, Britain and the United Nation's peace envoy to Yemen urged the warring parties in the country's two-year civil war to declare a ceasefire they said could start within days. UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he had been in contact with the lead negotiator for the rebel Houthi militia, as well as the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which operates from the southern city of Aden. Late Monday, he released a statement saying he had received assurances from all Yemeni parties for a ceasefire to begin at 23:59 Yemen time on Wednesday, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal. "The president agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire to be extended if the other party adheres to it," Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi wrote on Twitter. He added that Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa, would also need to activate a truce observing committee and end their siege of the country's third city, Taiz. Earlier Monday, Saudi Arabia - which is leading a military coalition in support of Hadi - also agreed to a new ceasefire. New pressure after funeral bombing The Saudis have faced heavy criticism following an airstrike earlier this month on a funeral gathering in Sanaa which killed 140 people. The airstrike, which the coalition blamed on "mistaken information" from its Yemeni allies, killed a number of prominent political figures, drawing condemnation from the UN and prompting the US to announce a review of its assistance to the coalition. Monday's announcements also follow the firing of missiles at the American destroyer USS Mason in the Red Sea off the war-ravaged country on Saturday, which analysts said came from Houthi-controlled territory. The rebels have denied the attacks. The Iran-backed Houthis, who are also supported by troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, have taken control of much of northern and western Yemen. The Pentagon said it was "still assessing" what had happened during the third such incident over the past week. The US launched retaliatory strikes against three radar stations in Houthi-controlled areas after the first two attacks. The Yemen conflict has killed almost 6,900 people and displaced at least 3 million since March last year, according to UN figures.

The UN has announced that all warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a three-day ceasefire, due to start on Wednesday night. International pressure is rising after the failure of several previous truce efforts. The announcement came a day after the United States, Britain and the United Nation’s peace envoy to Yemen urged the warring parties in the country’s two-year ... Read More »

Suspected Saudi airstrike on Yemen school kills at least 10 children

At least 10 children have been killed in a suspected Saudi airstrike on a school in Yemen, a week after the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks. The attack is likely to draw renewed criticism of the Saudi air campaign. At least 10 children were killed and 21 wounded in an airstrike in northern Yemen on Saturday, aid group Doctors Without Borders has said, in an attack Houthi rebels blamed on a Saudi-led military coalition. The airstrike hit a school in the Houthi heartland in Saada as coalition warplanes bombed multiple targets across the country. They came a week after the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks between the internationally recognized government in exile and rebels. The airstrike on the school is likely to draw renewed condemnation of the more than year-long Saudi-led air campaign, which is supported by the United States and United Kingdom through weapons sales, intelligence and logistics support. There was no immediate comment from the coalition. A Saudi-led coalition of Arab states intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to restore power to internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. He was forced to flee the country after Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh took over the capital, Sanaa, and other parts of the country in September 2014. Despite the coalition campaign, Hadi's forces on the ground have failed to dislodge Houthis from large parts of the country, including the capital. Houthis convene parliament Separately on Saturday, the Houthis and Saleh loyalists convened parliament in Sanaa for the first time in nearly two years in defiance of the Saudi-based Hadi, who called the parliamentary session "invalid." The session was attended by nearly 150 parliamentarians who approved a ruling council set up last month. According to the constitution, more than half of lawmakers must be present for a quorum. Several lawmakers have fled the country or been killed since fighting erupted, raising questions over the quorum and validity of the vote, as detailed in a tweet by Yemen-based journalist Hakim Almasmari. The conflict has killed at least 6,400 people and displaced nearly 2.5 million, turning what was already the Arab world's poorest country into a humanitarian disaster. Nearly 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The fighting has also opened up room for al-Qaeda and the so-called "Islamic State" to operate. Saudi Arabia accuses its regional rival Iran of backing the Shiite Houthi rebels, charges they deny. Riyadh is concerned Iran is trying to carve out a sphere of influence on its border, while detractors of Saudi arguments point to real Houthi grievances and domestic factors for the conflict.

At least 10 children have been killed in a suspected Saudi airstrike on a school in Yemen, a week after the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks. The attack is likely to draw renewed criticism of the Saudi air campaign. At least 10 children were killed and 21 wounded in an airstrike in northern Yemen on Saturday, aid group Doctors Without ... Read More »

IS suicide bombers kill dozens of army recruits in Yemen’s provisional capital Aden

The blasts occurred at a military base in the provisional capital of Aden - dozens were injured in the attack. The UN says 2.8 million Yemenis have been displaced since the fighting began. A pair of suicide bomb attacks Monday killed at least 40 people and injured dozens more in Aden, Yemen's provisional capital. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which began when a suicide bomber killed at least 34 new army recruits who had gathered at the Badr base in Aden's Khormaksar district. IS issued a statement online, saying one of its fighters detonated an explosives belt among "apostate soldiers" at a recruitment center, followed by the bombing at a gate of the Badr base. A local resident described the attack scene as "horrible," saying body parts had been blown dozens of yards (meters) away. "They came to complete the procedure of their recruitment and receive their first salary," he said, speaking of the young men who had gathered outside the army center. The second attack, inside the army base, killed seven more people. Conflicting reports put the number of wounded at 38 and 60. The European Union condemned the attacks in a statement, saying they "highlight the importance of restoring peace and the rule of law throughout the country." Attacks come amid peace talks The attack came on a day when the government resumed peace talks with the country's original rebels. Houthi militants, supported by Iran, overran the capital of Sanaa last year, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia. Hadi subsequently returned to establish a provisional capital in the port city of Aden. Saudi Arabia lead an Arab coalition that began a bombing campaign in Yemen in March 2015. Their aim had been to oust Houthi rebels and pave the way for a return to power of President Hadi. Despite a fierce and at times indescriminate air campaign, the Houthi rebels could not be routed, forcing the two sides to the negotiating table. More than 6,400 people have been killed in the fighting, and 2.8 million have been displaced, according to the United Nations. The world body says 82 percent of Yemen's population is in need of aid. With much of the country left ungoverned IS militants moved in to fill the vacuum, but they have been competing with Houthi rebels and al-Qaida jihadists, who have long been present in Yemen. A peace agreement with Houthi rebels, which is far from imminent would diminish the violence, but it would by no means bring peace to a country situated at the heal of the Arabian peninsula. IS also launched a series of deadly bombings in Syria on Monday, killing almost 150 people. The attacks occurred in coastal cities, which had considered safe territories under government control.

The blasts occurred at a military base in the provisional capital of Aden – dozens were injured in the attack. The UN says 2.8 million Yemenis have been displaced since the fighting began. A pair of suicide bomb attacks Monday killed at least 40 people and injured dozens more in Aden, Yemen’s provisional capital. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility ... Read More »

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