Monday, December 4, 2017

Former Yemeni president Saleh killed in battle in Sanaa

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in fighting with the Iran-aligned Houthi militia raging in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said on Monday, quoting sources in Saleh’s party. 
Al Arabiya quoted a source in Saleh’s General Peoples Congress as saying he was killed by sniper bullets. A Houthi video distributed on social media showed what appeared to be Saleh’s body, clad in grey clothes and being carried out on a red blanket. The side of his head bore a deep wound. 
The radio station of the Houthi-run Yemeni Interior Ministry first reported Saleh’s death but his party quickly denied this to Reuters, saying he was still leading his forces in Sanaa. 
 Earlier on Monday, Houthi forces blew up Saleh’s house in Sanaa and came under aerial attack by Saudi-led coalition warplanes for a second day, residents said.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Israel attacks base used by Hezbollah in Syria

 Israel has been accused by the Syrian government of launching an aerial attack against a military airport near to the capital, Damascus, early on Saturday morning.
The official news agency, Sana, said several projectiles were launched by Israeli war planes at the Mezzeh military airport which sits to the west of Damascus. The base is the headquarters of the Syrian 1st Division.
Syrian air defences intercepted at least two Israeli missiles but the attack still caused a fire to break out at the airport, resulting in "material damage", Sana said. The agency did not say whether there had been any casualties.
The Syrian regime warned Israel against unspecified repercussions in retaliation.
 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the missile attack was likely carried out by the Israeli military and targeted several government military bases in Al Kiswah on the southwest outskirts of Damascus.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

At least 305 killed in attack on mosque in North Sinai

Updated. Egyptian media reports say at least 305 people have been killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in the country's northern Sinai Peninsula.
The attack occurred in Bir al-Abed, a town in North Sinai province, shortly after Friday prayers.
Egyptian state media MENA put the death toll at 305, citing an official security source. It also said that 128 people were wounded in the attack.
The mosque in Bir al-Abed, about 40km west of El Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, was frequented by Sufis.
The government declared a three-day period of mourning for the victims.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi condemned the attack, which he described as "criminal" and "cowardly" in a televised statement on Friday. He expressed condolences to the victims and their families and said the attack "will not go unpunished"."The armed forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with the utmost force," Sisi said.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Palestinian factions agree to hold elections no later than the end of 2018

 Palestinian negotiators Salah Arouri of Hamas and Azzam Ahmad of Fatah (right) during their meeting on 12 October. Background: the new local leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar. (Reuters)

Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo called on Wednesday on the Central Elections Commission to prepare for holding presidential and legislative elections in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as elections for the Palestinian National Council, the parliament in exile, no later than the end of 2018.
They authorized President Mahmoud Abbas to set the election date after consultation with national and political powers and actors.
After two days of talks in Cairo under the auspice of Egypt, the factions stressed the need for accurate implementation of the Egyptian-brokered Palestinian national reconciliation deal reached by Fatah and Hamas movements on October 12, emphasizing the need for the government to assume its full responsibilities in the Gaza Strip as stated in the reconciliation agreement.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saudi Arabia wanted to replace Hariri because he did not confront Hezbollah

 Posters are seen in Beirut with the text''We are all Saad''. (Foto AP)

(Exclusive for Reuters)
BEIRUT (Reuters) - From the moment Saad al-Hariri’s plane touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday Nov. 3, he was in for a surprise. There was no line-up of Saudi princes or ministry officials, as would typically greet a prime minister on an official visit to King Salman, senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese political and security officials said. His phone was confiscated, and the next day he was forced to resign as prime minister in a statement broadcast by a Saudi-owned TV channel. The move thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of a struggle that is reshaping the Middle East, between the conservative Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite revolutionary Iran.
Their rivalry has fueled conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where they back opposing sides, and now risks destabilizing Lebanon, where Saudi has long tried to weaken the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon’s main political power and part of the ruling coalition.
Sources close to Hariri say Saudi Arabia has concluded that the prime minister - a long-time Saudi ally and son of late prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 - had to go because he was unwilling to confront Hezbollah.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Saudiya, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain advise citizens to leave Lebanon

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have advised their citizens not to travel to Lebanon and urged those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible. Saudi Arabia's official news agency SPA quoted a source in the foreign ministry on Thursday as saying: "Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible. "The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations."
Only hours later, Kuwait and the UAE also urged its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately. Bahrain - an ally of Saudi Arabia - had already ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon on Sunday, with the Bahraini foreign ministry issuing a travel advisory that cited "safety considerations".

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lebanon's prime minister and Yemen's president reported to be under house arrest in Saudi Arabia

Saad al-Hariri, who quit as Lebanese Prime Minister in a weekend broadcast from Saudi Arabia, has been held under house arrest in the kingdom, a pro-Hezbollah daily said on Tuesday citing unnamed sources.  If true he is not the only one, also the Yemeni president Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi is against his wish kept in Riaydh.
Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, which is aligned with the Shi‘ite militant group and political movement Hezbollah, said Hariri “was placed under house arrest hours after arriving in Riyadh last Friday” and had remained in detention since. Aides to Hariri, Lebanon’s most influential Sunni politician and a close Saudi ally, have denied claims that he was detained. Speculation in Lebanon over Hariri’s status continued, though, even after Saudi media showed him meeting with King Salman and reported him leaving for the UAE.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Saudis heavily bombed Sana'a after missile was fired at Riyadh

 Damage in  the Yemeni capital Sana'a (AFP).

The Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen carried out at least 29 air strikes on Sanaa province, hours after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital Riyadh. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia accused Iran of a possible act of war by providing the Houthis with Burkan 2-H missiles - a Scud-type missile with a range of more than 800 km.
Residents told Al Jazeera that bombs "rained down" on several neighbourhoods of the capital on Sunday, targeting a stage in al-Sabeen squaren used by Houthi rebels for military parades, the nearby presidential palace, the national security headquarters and the interior ministry.
The Houthi-run Saba news agency reported more than 15 air strikes in Sanaa and a further 14 in the districts of Sinhan and Bani Bahloul. Fatik al-Rodaini‏, an activist based in the capital, told Al Jazeera some of the raids targeted Sanaa's old city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Nasrallah: ''Hariri's resignation speech was written by the Saudis''

Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, has called the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri a "Saudi imposed decision". In a speech on the Hezbollah-owned Al Manar TV, said on Sunday that Hariri's resignation speech was "written by Saudis".
"It was not our wish for Hariri to resign," he said, "even if he was forced to resign, the way in which it was executed does not reflect Hariri's way in dealing with things,"
Hariri blamed interference in Lebanon by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah for his decision to quit, in a speech last Saturday from the Saudi capital Riyadh. In it he said that he feared an assassination attempt.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia replaces in anti ocrruption drive last rival of crown pince Mohammed

 Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The Saudi King Salman announced two key changes in the cabinet and ordered the formation of a super committee to combat corruption. The committee is to be headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In its first decision, the committee ordered the arrests of a number of princes and big businessmen for their involvement in corruption in different cases.
The two key changes in the Cabinet were that of National Guard Minister Miteb bin Abdullah, who was replaced by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf, and Economy Minister Adel Fakih, who was replaced by his deputy, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri.
Commander of the Navy, Abdullah Al-Sultan, was relieved of his position and has been replaced by Adm. Fahad Al-Ghofaili.
Besides the crown prince, the committee comprises heads of the Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), Public Security, General Prosecutor and the Investigation Authority.
Particularly remarkable is the replacement of prince Miteb, the preferred son of the late king Abdullah.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Lebanon again in turmoil after Hariri resigned

Saad Hariri
Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on Saturday, saying in a televised broadcast from Saudi Darabia thta he sensed a plot to target his life and criticizing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah. 
“We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of  martyr Rafik al-Hariri (his father and former prime minister). I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” he said.
In his statement, Hariri said Iran was “losing in its interference in the affairs of the Arab world”, adding that Lebanon would “rise as it had done in the past” and “cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it”.
Hariri became Lebanon’s prime minister late last year after a political deal that also brought Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun to office as the country’s president.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Iraq launches offensive against Kirkuk

 Iraqi army verhicles in the oilfields of Kirkuk. (Reuters)

Iraqi forces have launched a major offensive over several fronts aimed at retaking the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, allegedly causing "lots of casualties" in fighting south of the city.
The federal army, backed by Shia militias, said theiy seized control of the city's international airport, in addition to an oil field, the strategic K1 military base and the Tuz Khurmatu district southeast of Kirkuk on Monday.
Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga were digging in at the edge of the airport after withdrawing from their positions outside the northern city.
Hundreds of armed Kurdish residents were taking up positions inside the city anticipating an attack.
Residents of the multi-ethnic city, home to about a million Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians, stayed inside and reported hearing sporadic booms they said sounded like shelling and rocket fire.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement that the Peshmerga destroyed at least five Humvee armoured vehicles being used by the state-sanctioned militias following the attack south of the city.