Hamas Dissolves its Government Amid Challenge of Forming National Unity Cabinet

Ramallah- Hamas announced on Sunday the dissolution of the so-called administrative committee that runs the Gaza Strip and said it has agreed that a national unity cabinet immediately comes to the territory to carry out its duties.

“Hamas invites the government of national accord to come to Gaza to practice its mission and carry out its duties in the Strip immediately, and it accepts holding the general elections,” the movement said in a statement released on Sunday.

Hamas said it took the decision in response to Egypt’s efforts, which it greatly praised.

Hamas also expressed readiness to restart dialogue with the Fatah Movement concerning the mechanisms to implement the 2011 Cairo Agreement and to form a national unity government that includes all factions that signed the deal.

Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said the deal stipulates the fostering of the 2011 reconciliation agreement with no new items added on the list.

Observers believe that forming a national unity government constitutes the first challenge facing the new initiative, as Fatah wants to keep the program of its unity government while Hamas plans to introduce some amendments.

A series of meetings between Hamas and Fatah are expected to kick off next week in Egypt followed by talks with the rest of the Palestinian factions.

Al-Ahmed, who is currently in Cairo for the Egyptian-led reconciliation talks with Hamas told WAFA news agency that a bilateral meeting between Fatah and Hamas officials followed by a meeting of all the Palestinian factions that signed the reconciliation agreement in 2011 will be held in order to begin practical steps to implement the deal.

Al-Ahmed expressed great appreciation to Egypt’s efforts to end Palestinian division and achieve national unity.

Despite the welcoming statements released on Sunday by both Fatah and Hamas, the two movements are expected to face difficult talks concerning the employees of Hamas’ previous government, the plan of the upcoming national unity cabinet and its lineup in addition to which committees the new government should include.

Yemen’s National Army Pushes Al Qaeda Fighters from 2 Cities, About 40 Dead

Yemeni army forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition aircraft killed about 40 suspected al Qaeda fighters on Sunday as they fought their way into two militant strongholds in eastern Yemen, a local official and residents said.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has exploited a 16-month-old civil war between the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Iran-allied Houthis to capture a 600-km stretch of Arabian Sea coastline in eastern Yemen.

Hadi’s troops and forces from the Saudi-led Arab coalition drove out AQAP – widely considered the most dangerous branch of the global militant group – from the Hadramout provincial capital of Mukalla in April.

Houthi militants have since repeatedly withdrawn from and then returned to Zinjibar and Jaar, the capital of Abyan and the province’s second largest city.

Abyan Governor Al-Khader Mohammed al-Saidi, speaking by telephone from Jaar, told Reuters that three brigades took part in the operation and that troops have “taken complete control of both cities”.

Saidi said that 40 AQAP members were killed in both cities, while the rest fled. He said three soldiers were martyred and several were wounded in the operation.

“We met with citizens and fighters and both were happy to be free under government authority,” the governor said.

Residents said an AQAP suicide bomber blew himself up in a car trying to attack troops in Zinjibar, a city of some 100,000 people, but no one else was hurt.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies intervened in the civil war in Yemen in March last year as to restore legitimacy to the war-torn country, after the Houthis militia advanced on his headquarters in the southern port city of Aden.

The war has killed more than 6,500 people, displaced more than 2.5 million and caused a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Coalition bombing targets Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but began turning their attention to AQAP earlier this year when forces funded and trained by the United Arab Emirates launched a surprise attack to win back Mukalla.

But an armed push toward Qaeda-held towns in Abyan and neighboring Lahj province proved more difficult, and militants launched repeated suicide attacks against Yemeni forces.