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 and the Catastrophic Role of ‘Lone’ Nations

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented again, before the Security Council, a new UN proposal to resolve the Yemeni crisis. Possibly, even Yemenis can no longer count the number of initiatives launched by Ould Cheikh whether a proposal, truce or a road-map. Though they are many, none succeeded.

Labels and means varied, yet the UN is neglecting the easiest and shortest road which is to apply the Security Council resolution 2216 which demads Houthis to halt their rely on violence and to withdraw their forces from all regions ruled by them including Sana’a, in addition to stopping the mobilization of children, dismissing current ones and abstaining from provocations or threats to neighboring states.

Throughout 29 years, the UN failed via its former secretary general and then the new Portuguese secretary general Antonio Guterres to carry out one practical step to resolve the Yemeni crisis through applying any of the UN resolution terms. Further, the UN contributed in prolonging the crisis through encouraging insurgents to move forward with their project to kidnap the state.

In plain sight of the UN, insurgents are practicing the collective punishment policy in regions ruled by them and have mobilized around 10,000 Yemeni children.

Strangely, the UN-affiliated international organizations operating in Yemen are lenient with Houthis as if they are not responsible for the comprehensive siege and the crimes, neglecting the clear international resolution and the violations and practices adopted by Houthis and Saleh militias.

This approach encouraged them and caused a shock for the legit Yemeni authority that is acknowledged by the UN, Arab League, international organizations and all states.

It seems that the UN role in Yemen has become an obstacle rather than an aid to reaching a resolution. For example, two years ago the UN pursued to settle truce more than once by which it endowed militias the chance to recover and make a field infringe. Although the truce was necessary for civilians, Houthi militias used it to logistically support their war effort. Off course, the truce quickly collapsed but the UN refrained from announcing that and from holding the breaching party legally responsible.

Mark Malloch Brown, Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan, stressed earlier that the UN is in pressuring need for reforms. In fact, the chaos in the UN will worsen if it continues to depend on false standards that deal with militias as states, thieves as supporters, and prefer insurgents over those who possess international legality.

Who would believe that the UN, which is supposed to be applying the highest levels of credibility and objectivity in its reports, would issue reports against the coalition without double checking the data from the coalition or the legit government?

Antonio Guterres, however, occupies this new position in a world where confidence in the UN and the global values it represents has declined. Until now, his performance is frustrating especially that he lacks high capabilities to communicate and didn’t yet take any decisive stance towards the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya or South Sudan.

Obviously, he didn’t present himself as a strong secretary general whether on the level of foreign leaders or internal reforms.

US President Donald Trump previously criticized the UN, describing it as a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

His description seems to be correct since the UN credibility is scattering and its objectify is on the verge. Despite its original role in being part of the solution, it has become part of the problem and its complexities.

Especially in Yemen, it is no more the united nations but the ‘lone’ ones.

Government Blackout on Markets’ Fires in Damascus

Damascus- Once again, fires are swallowing up archaeological sites in Old Damascus amidst authorities’ discretion towards the real causes and with accusation against Iran of causing the fires to seize the region, with the complicity of the regime.

The last fire, believed not to be the least, flared up at the evening of October 1 in Al-Asrounieh Market, meters away from the Umayyad Mosque from the south-east, Al-Hamidiyah Souq from the north while the Citadel of Damascus lays at the south and Al-Manakhlia Market at the west.

As reported in a social network, the news was restricted to the following: Fire flares up in Al-Asrounieh Market in Old Damascus for an anonymous reason, and there are no casualties.

This market, which includes hundreds of stores and is considered a vital market in Damascus, is specialized in selling necessities of kitchens and women from perfumes, makeup, and kids’ toys. Its name attributes to the historian Ibn Abi Asroun while other historians say its name goes back to the fact that the market always becomes busy in the “afternoon” which is equivalent to the Arabic word “aser”.

Since the beginning of the war, towns and markets of Old Damascus have been witnessing a widespread of militias that are supported by Iran under the pretext of defending shrines.

Despite the reservation of the majority of stores’ owners towards the new fire out of security fears, someone stood out and revealed what he knows to Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is certain that the fire is intentional by pro-Iran individuals to lay their hands on the economic center of Damascus. How did this fire occur with all the widespread of Iranian militias and security members? Why don’t they interfere when there are fires?”

This fire is the third of its kind after the last one that took black back in December which burned 10 stores and two warehouses. Back then, stores’ owners affirmed that militants made up a fire on Thursday, followed by another one on Friday.

Regime forces claimed that the reason was a short circuit.

At Least 21 Journalists Held Captive by Houthi Militias in Yemen

Yemen

Aden- Journalists in Yemen are the subject to ongoing oppression and tragic setback as insurgency militias exercise brutal authority inhibiting the press.

Iran-allied Houthi militias along with armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh have employed coercive control against the Sana’a-based government news agency and independent partisan outlets since the start of the coup.

Meanwhile, voices are raised demanding the release of journalists detained by coup militias, the number of captives rose to 21 journalists last week.

Houthi militias arrested a number of pro-coup journalists, most of which advocating Saleh loyalists forces.

Despite the coup’s so-called Supreme Political Council President Saleh al-Samad ordering the release of Yahya Abdel-Raqib al-Jubeihi who is both journalist and university professor that was sentenced by the Houthi court to death for his anti-coup views, he remains in lock up.

Samad also issued directives to free remaining detained journalists, but none of the orders were followed with action.

Al-Maqri, a journalist imprisoned by the extremist al-Qaeda off-shoot AQAP, is still held in captivity. He was kidnapped by the terror group in Hadramout before pro-government forces, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, liberated the city of Mukalla and other coastal cities in April 2016.

According to Nabil al-Asidi, a member of the Yemeni Syndicate of Journalists, “most detainees in the hands of militias are subjected to torture, psychological trauma, and are suffering from many diseases.”

“Militias refuse to treat them or offer them medical assistance,” Asidi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Veteran journalist Yahya al-Jubeihi, sentenced to death, suffers from severe asthma and deteriorating health conditions.”

“Abdel Rahim Mohsen, kidnapped by the militia while receiving treatment in a hospital in Rahda city and has fallen into coma repeatedly as a result of continued torture and violent interrogation,” Asidi cited information received by the syndicate.

“As for the statement on the coup granting a general amnesty for all journalists and ordering their release, including the journalist al-Jubeihi, the syndicate stresses that it is their right to be free, and not a privilege to be granted by coup militias,” he said.

“The kidnapping and arrest by the militias constitute a crime against the law and those militias are violating perpetrators, yet we are still waiting for the truth behind their promises to release journalists and give them the freedom they deserve,” he added.

Yemen: Dozens of Militiamen Killed in Marib Clashes amid Government Forces Advance

A soldier gestures as he sits atop a military vehicle accompanying Gulf Arab soldiers while they arrive at Yemen's northern province of Marib

Taiz – Dozens of Yemeni coup militiamen were killed in clashes in the north eastern city of Marib as government forces pushed towards the strategic Marthad hill.

Earlier, pro-government forces had locked control over multiple supply routes that used to provide Houthi insurgents and armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh with arms.

Field sources confirmed that 12 coup militiamen were arrested by government forces amid ongoing defeats striking their ranks. Putschists have been increasingly losing artillery and grounds.

A number of Marib civilians have returned to their homes after having been driven out of them due to fierce battles two years ago. Sources also pointed out that the army seized two military vehicles, weapons and ammunition, left by the militias in the liberated areas.

Marib province is among a very few provinces that fought off Houthi military expansion in late 2014, months before Saudi Arabia and allied Arab countries entered the war to bring back the legitimate president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

For almost two years, government forces and the Saudi-led coalition have been militarily pressuring rebels to turn over their territories in Marib as to put an end to sporadic rocket attacks on the province’s capital Marib.

Fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition launched several air strikes, targeting Houthis’ military reinforcements to besieged fighters on Helan mountain.

Army spokesman in Taiz Colonel Abed Al Basit al Bahr told Asharq Al-Awsat that coupists had launched sporadic projectiles in order to inhibit the advances registered by army forces.

“Army morale is high due to ongoing battleground victories,” said Col. Bahr.

On the other hand, “Houthi ranks have been utterly demoralized,” he added.

Yemeni PM Directs Health Ministry to Propose Funds to Fight Cholera

Yemen

Taiz- Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr has directed the Health Ministry to provide emergency medicines and propose funds for some Taiz hospitals to help them fight cholera and treat the wounded and patients.

This coincides with the rise of cholera-suspect cases to 179,000 and the death of 1,205 because of cholera until June 20, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

During a meeting with the Joint Meeting Parties’ leaders of Taiz to discuss the security and public service situations in the city, he said that the political leadership – represented by president Hadi – pays good attention to Taiz.

Bin Daghr added that the government has begun, as of Wednesday, to transfer Taiz employees’ salaries, however “the government finds difficulty in salary payment because the coup militias are in control of half of the country’s revenues which they use to kill the Yemeni people.”

He stated, “Victory always begins in Taiz. That is why the Saleh-Houthi militias subjected it to an oppressive siege and exercised the most horrific atrocities against its people. But the city’s people persevered through the militia’s intransigence to defend the state draft which Yemenis reached a consensus about during the National Dialogue conference.”

“The coup party themselves had agreed on it before they conducted the coup,” he added.

Yemeni prime minister continued that “the government pays a lot of attention to Taiz, equally with other provinces.

However, the militia-waged war has wrecked all the state institutions. And now the government is struggling to make the people’s suffering less severe in all provinces.”

Militias Recruited 25 Children in Mahweet in May

Yemen

Taiz – Houthi and Saleh militias recruited 25 children from Mahweet during the past months and got them involved in conflict fronts in Taiz, Midi and Nihm, said Mahweet Human Rights Organization.

The organization monitored that Mahweet – ruled by Saleh and Houthi militias – has underwent 451 violations by insurgents against civilians during May, including raiding villages and houses, kidnapping and recruiting children and displacing households.

Media Almahweet Center saw that the militias’ recruiting of a huge number of children indicates its shortage of human power due to the two-year war.

A statement by Mahweet Human Rights Organization revealed that insurgents have kidnapped 116 civilians, with 34 being physically and psychologically tortured, despite 11 others who are deliberately hidden and no one knows their place of detention.

Insurgents have been inciting killing, have disturbed 112 people, stalked media, raided three villages and three houses and displaced 11 households, according to the statement. It added that up to 40 state and private institutions are still under occupation while 12 others were transformed into barracks, while 17 schools for memorizing Quran were shut down.

Mahweet Human Rights Organization called on local and foreign organizations to “visit Houthi and Saleh insurgent militias prisons in Mahweet to check over the kidnapped and arrested and to take a closer look at the violations that can’t be discovered by the organization.”

It concluded in its statement that the mentioned violations are the ones that the organization managed to monitor and archive and that there are other violations that were not disclosed because of the militias’ pressure and their tension from any impartial rights act or professional media act.

Yemeni Forces Arrest 13 Militia Leaders in Lahij

Yemen

Aden – Saudi-led Coalition backing Yemeni legitimacy intensified its air raids on military clusters of Houthi and Saleh militias in Sana’a and Hajjah governorate.

Meanwhile, popular resistance in the northern parts of Lahij, south Yemen, captured 13 insurgency leaders and militants.

Military sources in Hajjah governorate told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that coalition air force raided severely on several military sites of the militias from Hared till Midi district.

At the same time, national army forces targeted different locations at the eastern side of Midi city and Safhan. The air force also raided different militia sites near the Saudi border.

The military escalation and intensive bombardment on the border came after the Saudi-led coalition defense system intercepted a ballistic missile launched by insurgents towards Saudi Arabia.

Local sources reported that the air raids killed and injured several militia men and destroyed some of their military vehicles and equipment.

In Sana’a, coalition fighters launched a series of trikes on different militia sites on the southern and eastern outskirts of the city.

Locals said that the air raids targeted military sites in the southeastern outskirt of Sana’a coinciding with military aircrafts flying over it for hours.

Popular resistance in al-Qabbaytah in Lahij district announced it had captured 13 commanders and members loyal to the insurgents in the district.

Qabbaytah resistance spokesperson Ali Muntaser told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the popular resistance was able to arrest 13 insurgents and is still pursuing militia militants in Thawjan and Nakhilah areas.

Resistance leader in Qabbaytah, Colonel Hasan Salem told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the resistance is launching campaigns to cleanse the region from militias.

Salem said that insurgents destroyed everything in the district attempting to destroy what is left of the social fabric of the area. He called upon all militias’ supporters to join the legitimate and popular resistance.

The military leader said that, in the upcoming days, popular resistance in Qabbaytah will devise many strategies and plans to cleanse and regain control over all cities in the district.

He pointed out that the resistance is in control of about 70 percent of the district, adding that militias are trying to reinforce their armed forces to infiltrate into more important parts of Qabbaytah but their attempts are thwarted by the resistance.

Yemen’s Army Draws up New Plan to Free Hodeidah City

Aden, Jeddah- A Yemeni official army spokesman revealed on Tuesday that a new plan has been developed to retake the key port city of Hodeidah from insurgency control.

Iran-backed militias will soon be dislodged from their Red Sea coast bastion, the army spokesman said.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Brigadier General Abdo Ali Mojlei said that national army troops are fully prepared and are waiting for instructions from government control.

At least 90 percent of local inhabitants are rushing to back pro-government forces, whether it be national army forces of Popular Resistance troops, Mojlei said.

Army troops have made major advances on Yemen’s western axis, arriving at Hodeidah’s vicinity.

Insurgency militias have offered to hand over both the city and its strategic port to government forces—however conditions were listed.

Hajjah’s provincial representative Nasser Daqin, Hodeidah’s neighboring governorate, said insurgency militias have demanded army operations backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition cease in order to withdraw from Hodeidah.

Despite the offer being a notable progress, unless international guarantees provided by sponsoring states and undertakings are carried out, the bid remains insufficient.

A time period in which insurgency militias would vacate the city should also be declared.

“The Yemeni government will not enter such conflicts that do not serve the best interests of Yemenis, especially Tihamah region residents,” Daqin added.

Tihamah refers to Red Sea coastal plain of Arabia from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Bab el Mandeb Strait, which encompasses Hodeidah city.

In the meantime, Houthi militiamen and armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh continued for the second consecutive day a large-scale kidnapping spree against civilians in the town of Bihan in Shabwa province.

Fierce fighting and mutual artillery shelling coincided with the kidnappings across the province.

Yemen has been reeling from ongoing conflict between Houthis, aligned with Iran, against the constitutionally elected and internationally recognized government headed by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to help the government retake the capital Sana’a.

Militias Launch Campaign to Kidnap Civilians in Sa’ada

Yemen

Taiz – Saada Media Center announced on Sunday that Houthi and Saleh militias have commenced a campaign to kidnap citizens in Sakin and Razeh.

In its statement, the center mentioned that “militias have kidnapped the pharmacist Abdulsalam Mansour al-Natih in Sakin under the pretext of needing him to test some medicines and determine their quality and validation. They promised to return him but his parents are still trying to know his place until now.

Days earlier, Khalid Hussein al-Shami, Hayel Jaber Mahdi, Seif Ahmad al-Hatfi and Mohamamd Sharid Jaber from Razeh were kidnapped and taken to an anonymous destination. “These practices fall under the barbarism of Houthi militias amidst the silence and negligence of human rights organizations,” added the statement.

Militias are also carrying out kidnaps in Bayhan and the surrounding villages under the pretext of supporting the national army and Popular Resistance, as reported by the army-affiliated news website.

“More than 20 citizens were kidnapped from Bayhan and militias are refusing to release them. They are also preventing their parents from visiting or contacting them, not even friends or rights activists,” added the website.

In Maris, south Yemen, fierce conflicts took place between militias and the national army. Three insurgents were killed and others were injured in the exchange of artillery shelling.

Field sources reported that the national army artillery caused enormous human and material losses among the insurgent militias after targeting them during their attempt to sneak and restore liberated areas in Masloub.

Following Houthi and Saleh militias attempt to attack the house of a sheikh in Juban, 15 armed men were killed – members of the Popular Resistance obliged the militias to draw back.