Houthis, Saleh Exchange Accusations, Threats to End Alliance

Houthis

Aden — Tension reemerged Thursday between the two partners of the coup in Yemen after Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s supporters exchanged accusations of obstructing a political agreement that united both sides.

Saleh, who heads the General People’s Congress (GPC), sent a letter to the so-called Ansar Allah, the political office of Houthis, accusing the rebels of launching campaigns against his leadership and party members.

In the letter sent by Aref Al-Zouka, Saleh said that some of his ministers in the unofficial rebel government, including the Minister of Education and the Minister of Awqaf and Guidance, had been “humiliated” by the Houthis, who “lack the will to maintain partnership.”

The former president enclosed to his letter a list of 44 members of the Houthi militia and its journalists who were attacking Saleh and the leaders of his party, threatening to quit the alliance.

The party considered those insults as “clear indications and conclusive evidence that you have no desire to carry on partnership. We would like to inform you that we do not want a sham partnership,” Al-Zouka said in his letter.

For his part, leader of the Houthi so-called Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Samad responded to the letter by accusing figures close to Saleh of trying to “break internal unity” between the two allies.

Al-Samad added: “What partnership do you speak of when you are the ones obstructing the role of the political council and the government?”

The Houthi official said: “We, too, are not honored to remain in a sham responsibility incapable of fixing the simplest reforms.”

Yemeni political figures said the GPC letter expressed that relations with the Houthis reached a “very embarrassing level.”

Yassine al-Tamimi, a Yemeni political analyst, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that the letter was not related to the violations committed by the 44 Houthi officials listed in Saleh’s letter, but rather involves the failure of the two allies in managing the coup, which was never established based on good intentions.

“Houthi officials have directed several blows to the GPC camp with an aim to silence the party’s activists and journalists criticizing their policies,” al-Tamimi said.

Yemeni Army Regains Control over Strategic Areas in Shabwa

Yemen

Aden – The Yemeni national army regained control over new strategic locations in Shabwa, southern Yemen, during the last 24 hours of fighting against the Houthi and Saleh militias as intense air raids by the Saudi-led coalition to support the legitimacy continued.

Army spokesman Major General Mutlaq al-Maaroufi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army had regained control of al-Akda, Al-Abara and Abdul Rahman strongholds in Osailan after bloody clashes with the militias, hours after the gunmen took control of these areas.

The militia withdrew from these areas before the army intensified its targeting and siege, Maaroufi said.

The Saudi-led coalition warplanes mounted an attack on gatherings of militias in Osailan, resulting in many casualties.

Maaroufi said the army had a new plan to impose its control over the militia-controlled Beihan district, following the new military changes to the command of the 19th Brigade.

Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis are sending reinforcements for their troops in the border areas between Beihan and Osailan.

For his part, activist Ahmed al-Mus’abi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthi militias are carrying out mass abductions and arrests and are storming many houses in Beihan.

He said that during the past two days, the militia had kidnapped dozens of people, including children amid the continued suffocating siege on the district.

In other field developments, field sources in the northwestern Hajjah governorate said that the artillery of the joint forces continued its heavy shelling of militia positions in Hayran and Hard districts.

In the past 24 hours, the sources estimated that the forces had launched more than 90 artillery shells.

Arab coalition fighters continued their air raids on militia positions, about two kilometers from the entrance of the Midi district, amid continuing heavy overflights along the border areas.

Yemeni Militias Resort to Planting Mines Across Villages after Losing in Taiz

Yemeni students attend a class on the first day of the new school year in the capital Sanaa, on October 15, 2017

Taiz- Militia sources in Yemen said that coup factions have stepped up their weaving of landmines into the southwestern villages near Taiz. The increase in mine-planting activity comes after suffering steep losses in the battlefield.

On the other hand, a pro-government military source belonging to the 35th Armored Brigade said that insurgency militias continued to plant mines across civilian infrastructure, such as farms, residential neighborhoods, and near water wells.

Al-Houd, Al-Sayyar, Al-Sharaf villages and the Othman Bin Affan School in Al-Houd, were among areas targeted.

The source further stressed that national army units pushed against attempts for coup militias to advance into the city of Taiz and the countryside.

Most attempts were staged to progress and restore sites lost east and northwest of the city.

The source added that Houthi-planted mines have killed 9 civilians, including two women and three children, in August alone.

Last Friday, the mines killed a citizen named Saif al-Qamri, and wounded four women in the area of ​​Hamli, west of Taiz.

Planting mines increased fiercely in retaliation to Zaid bin Ali al-Sharfi, a senior Houthi field commander, being killed in the fierce battles between militias and the Yemeni armed forces in the north-western frontier of Harad.

The statement issued by the Media Center of the fifth military region underlined that the leader of the Houthi militia, Zaid bin Ali Sharfi was killed on Friday evening, in the battles between the forces of the National Army on the one hand and Houthi, Saleh militias on the other near the border frontier of Harad.

The center quoted military sources as saying that the corpse of Sharfi is still laying in the Harad desert as the militias were unable to retrieve their dead due to fierce ongoing battles.

The statement said that the arms officer in the warehouse of the Midi Front and the leader of the Houthi militia, Waleed Mohammed Ahmed al-Houthi, was also killed along with four other Houthi leaders in an air raid by the Arab coalition east of Midi.

Yemen UN Envoy Underlines ‘Transparent’ Contacts with Houthis

Cheikh

London – An official at the office of United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed denied on Friday that any of his aides had contacted Houthi leaders residing in Beirut.

The official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the envoy had never even traveled to Lebanon since he was appointed to his post.

He made his remarks in response to media claims that Ould Cheikh had met Houthis in the Lebanese capital.

The official added: “There is no second line of contacts between the envoy and Houthis. All contacts are being done transparently and through the usual channels.”

The envoy had recently announced a new comprehensive solution to resolve the crisis in Yemen that started with a coup in 2014.

The official at Ould Cheikh’s office said: “We have not yet fully and officially presented this initiative to any side. The envoy will work on this in the upcoming days.”

Saudi Arabia Supports Yemeni Parties Returning to Peace Negotiations

In the Harat Al-Masna’a slum in Sana’a, Yemen, a man walks with his three-year-old daughter which sits next to a former textile factory and hosts 231 families of former factory workers.

Riyadh- Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber reaffirmed that the Kingdom supports all political efforts exerted by the United Nations to bring Yemeni parties back to negotiations and reach a political solution.

However, the ambassador pointed out to the existence of foreign interferences by the Iranian regime that threaten security and stability in the region and Yemen.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced on Wednesday his intention to revive negotiations between the parties to the Yemeni conflict through the introduction of a comprehensive initiative for the solution, including humanitarian initiatives to rebuild confidence and the return of the parties to the negotiating table.

“The Iranian regime is threatening security and stability in the region,” the Saudi ambassador to Yemen said at a workshop in Brussels organized by the Gulf Research Center, citing a Houthi-Iranian agreement signed by militias in February 2015 to conduct 28 weekly Sanaa-Tehran flights to import ballistic missiles, guided boats and drones, and the specific weapons that the Houthis were supplied with.

“The Saudi position is clear; the solution in Yemen is political and depends on three basic reference points: the Gulf initiative, the outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue, and the UN Security Council resolution (2216),” he said in a speech to workshop attendees.

The workshop was attended by representatives of the Yemeni government, the European Union, and civil society organizations.

On the other hand, Jaber stressed the need for Houthis to hand over the weapons and participate in the political process as a political party and not as a militia.

“Iranian interference in Yemen must stop and ensure the security and stability of Yemen and the region,” he said.
For his part, Mohamed Taha Mustafa, the Yemeni ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, stressed the keenness of the legitimate government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi on peace based on the principles of partnership in power and fair distribution of wealth within the framework of a federal Yemen that can serve Yemenis.

Ould Cheikh: Houthis’ Ballistic Missiles a Dangerous Escalation

New York- UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed criticized Houthis for launching ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, and condemned the recent insurgent threats to expand the firing of missiles towards Gulf countries, saying such behaviors were considered an “extremely dangerous escalation.”

Speaking on Yemen’s situation at the UN Security Council, the envoy announced his plan to revive talks between the Yemeni warring parties by suggesting a comprehensive initiative for a solution in the war-torn country.

“I am currently working on a comprehensive plan that includes humanitarian initiatives to rebuild trust as well as bringing the parties back to the negotiations table,” he said.

Following his statement at the Security Council, Ould Cheikh told Asharq Al-Awsat that he plans to present his initiative to the concerned parties during a meeting that might be held soon in Geneva.

He added that his plan also involves enhancing the authorities of the port city of Hodeida and to pay the salaries of all employees across Yemen.

The envoy called on member states and the international community to offer their assistance in this regard.

“We hope this commitment will translate into action and deepen their engagement with me on the basis of these initiatives in order to reach a peaceful political solution,” he said, adding that the conflict in Yemen is creating a desperate situation in every facet of daily life.

Ould Cheikh urged the Security Council to use all of its political and economic power to exert pressure on all parties to commit to a peace pact.

The envoy spoke about an air strike ona residential suburb in Sana’a on 25 August, which had claimed the lives of 14 civilians and injured 16 others, while shelling from Houthi-controlled zones of residential areas in Taiz city on September 15 and 18 had killed and injured tens of civilians.

For his part, French ambassador to the United Nations Francois Delattre, who is president of the Security Council for October, told reporters following the session that Council members reiterated their support for a political solution as the only way to end the conflict in Yemen and their call on all parties to immediately agree on the modalities for a durable cessation of hostilities.

Houthi Militants Storm Coup-Established Foreign Ministry Offices in Sana’a

Houthis

Aden, Taiz – Armed militias backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Tehran-aligned Houthis returned to the cycle of tension after Houthi gunmen stormed the coup-established foreign ministry bureaus in the capital Sana’a.

Houthi militiamen then prevented the pro-Saleh foreign minister Hisham Sharaf from entering the ministry.

A source at the internationally-recognized government in Aden described what is going on as “settling scores and tightening the grip on Saleh by the Houthis.”

The source also stressed that “coup tactics are self-destructive” and that “what is happening is evidence of the hatred fellow coup members harbor towards each other—however, it absolves neither from legal or judicial responsibility or accountability.”

The number of raids by Houthi militias against ministerial buildings located in coup-held territory have increased.

Unlike the Houthis’ predominantly militarized role in the coup, most ministries are run by Saleh loyalists.

Only a week ago, gunmen stormed the health ministry offices and assaulted the minister in office.

Houthis continue to chase former politicians in Sana’a.

There have been repeated incursions and accounts of humiliation registered, which reached the point physical offenses carried out against coup ministers.

“Targeting Sharaf, one of the most efficient political assistants and foreign communications experts, suggests that the two coup partners disagree on the most sensitive point—which is opposing legitimate authorities and the Arab coalition,” said Yassine al-Tamimi, a Yemeni political analyst.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that what happened to Sharaf “is an episode in a longer series of targeting coup ministers affiliated with Saleh and who represent the political line of the General People’s Congress. This likely means that Houthis decided to deplete Saleh and his party, ousting them from the scene.”

Meanwhile, pro-government Yemeni army forces and the Popular Resistance announced on Sunday that they have officially restored their control over new strategic positions, which were controlled by insurgency militias in northeastern Al-Jawf province.

Arab League: UN Report on Yemen Lacks Accuracy

KSRelief provides 53,433 meals to Yemeni schools accommodating internally displaced students.

Cairo, Riyadh- The Arab League said that a more accurate approach was required in the annual report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of children in armed conflict, in which the UN accused the Arab Coalition Countries to Restore Yemen’s Legitimacy of committing violations against children during the country’s armed conflict.

Mahmoud Afifi, the official spokesman of the Arab League secretary general, said that the report lacked a more accurate approach by the authors in monitoring, recording and documenting the alleged violations by Arab Coalition in Yemen.

He stressed that Yemen’s complex situation and the responsibility of the coup militias for a large number of violations “makes it important to refer to the legitimate government in Yemen as the main source for information and data in this regard.”

Afifi added that the severe deterioration in the humanitarian and living conditions of the Yemeni people necessitated practical steps to mobilize the much-needed efforts to address the situation as soon as possible, starting with a constructive and sound dialogue between the international community and the legitimate government and its allies.

He also highlighted great efforts deployed by the Arab Coalition over the last years to help the Yemeni people, including, for example, the work of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRELIEF) in the protection of Yemeni children in armed conflicts and the rehabilitation of child soldiers.

Meanwhile, legal sources said that the credibility and accuracy of United Nations reports was at stake, as the international organization has recently resorted to inaccurate statistical data from non-neutral actors possibly involved in conflicts.

The sources told Asharq al-Awsat that in recent years there has been an increase in the international organization’s failures, while its secretary-general’s tasks have been limited to denunciation and condemnation.

Dr. Hadi Al-Yami, the former chairman of the Arab Human Rights Committee, said that international organizations have tried to exploit Saudi support for their programs and to issue reports in the interests of the Kingdom’s enemies. He also expressed his surprise over the United Nations’ designation of the Arab Coalition as a party that violates children’s rights.

“Unfortunately, information obtained by international organizations is not objective, as it comes from employees working for the Houthis and does not reflect the reality of Houthi violations of children’s rights,” he stated.

Mouallimi: We are Contacting UN Officials to Correct Errors in their Reports

Yemen

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative at the United Nations Abdullah al-Mouallimi stated that the international organization’s recent report on Yemen was “inaccurate” and contained misleading information.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Riyadh will continue communication with UN officials in order to clarify their report, which accused the Saudi-led coalition of being responsible for the death and injury of 683 children in Yemen.

He added that the report relied on weak sources and that the UN did not put any effort into finding strong ones.

Once the facts and information are obtained from the ground in Yemen, the UN would be able to monitor the humanitarian situation there better, explained Mouallimi.

Yemeni Ambassador to the US Ahmed bin Mubarak echoed the Saudi accusations, adding that the UN based its report on the findings of groups that are biased and politicized in their work in Yemen. These groups are close to either deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh or the Houthi militia.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the relief organizations that have been seized by coup forces in Yemen have sought to distort the facts and accuse the legitimate government and those aiding it of baseless charges.

“It is laughable to accuse the Yemeni government of recruiting children while the entire world witnesses child recruitment and has not lifted a finger to stop it,” he continued.

“The world has not condemned the recruitment of children and their use as human shields by the Houthis,” he noted.

Furthermore, the ambassador stressed that the Yemeni government set up, in cooperation with the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, a center for the rehabilitation of children in order to allow them to once again return to normal life.

He wondered why this fact was not included in the UN report.

Arab Coalition Fighters Target Coup Military Camps in Yemen

Taiz

Aden – The Yemeni National Army announced on Sunday the death of a Houthi commander in the Taiz province south of Sana’a.

The 35th Armored Battalion tweeted that “Houthi commander Major Hamid al-Mudai was shot dead by the 35 Armored Battalion in the Salu district southeast of Taiz.”

Arab coalition fighters targeted military reinforcements belonging to the Houthi militia on their way to the coastal front, while 18 Houthi and Saleh militants were killed and eight wounded in a raid by the Arab coalition fighters in al-Hamili front, west Taiz Governorate, according to a military source.

Two members of the militia were killed and others were injured in an attack by the National Army on coupist sites south of Taiz.

Meanwhile, a field commander in the ranks of Houthi-Saleh militia was killed on Saturday in an ambush carried out by the Popular Resistance fighters in al-Soma’ah district of al-Bayda province.

The Resistance confirmed that militia supervisor, Abu Abed, was killed in the attack in al-Hazimieh.

Abu Abed was appointed by militia rebels instead of Abu Serag, the previous supervisor, who was killed too in the same district.

In addition, the Yemeni army announced Sunday that it has achieved significant progress in its battles against Houthi and Saleh militias in Khabb and al-Sha’af district north of the Yemeni province of al-Jawf.

Following the ongoing clashes since last Friday, Commander of the Sixth Military Region Colonel Mohammed Saleh Rasia said that the army forces of the First Brigade border guards were able to clear the camp of Ghreemil and areas of Ajashr and Ramle north of the directorate.