Drone Strike Kills 3 Qaeda Suspects in Yemen

A suspected US drone strike targeting a car killed three alleged Al-Qaeda members, including a leader in the southern Yemen province of Abyan, local officials said Friday.

They said the strike was carried out late Thursday in the Sumaa area of the province, engulfing the car in flames. The leader’s body was left “incinerated” and his two bodyguards also killed.

A similar drone strike on Sunday in Marib province, east of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, killed five suspected Al-Qaeda militants.

The United States considers the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to be the radical group’s most dangerous branch.

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.

Gaddafi Family to Sue Qatar before ICC

Cairo- The Gaddafi family has announced its intention to sue Qatar before the International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague.
 
The family’s lawyer, Khalid al-Zaidi, has vowed to sue Qatari figures before the ICC for “supporting terrorism and causing the displacement of Libyan citizens.”
 
In a news conference held on Tuesday evening in Tunis, Zaidi noted that a team of five international lawyers would soon start to work on the case, pointing out that Doha could be sued under Law No. 1970, which Qatar itself was the reason behind, and that no new Security Council resolution was required to file the case.
 
Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame continued his efforts to converge the views of the two dialogue committees, representing Libya’s Parliament and the High State Council, as he provided them on Wednesday with a new paper on consensual formulas to resume the negotiations over the amendment of the Skhirat Agreement.
 
Talks on amending the agreement kicked off last Sunday in Tunis, and were suspended following the withdrawal of Parliament’s representatives over a disagreement on the need to tackle controversial issues.
 
Omar Boushah, member of the dialogue committee on the High State Council briefed Asharq Al-Awsat about the details of the meeting attended by the UN envoy to Libya. He noted that Salame presented to the two dialogue committees, which convened in Tunis on Wednesday, “a set of ideas centered around some points of agreement, and other issues that remain controversial and should be studied within each committee.”
 
The head of Parliament’s side in the Joint Drafting Committee, Abdul Salam Nasieh, met with British Ambassador to Libya Peter Millett, with whom he discussed the reasons for the suspension of the second round of political talks in Tunis.
 
The Libyan Parliament said in a statement published on its Facebook page, early on Wednesday, that the chairman of the dialogue committee and members of the joint drafting committee have briefed Millett on the reasons behind suspending the political dialogue, and they asked the other party (the High State Council) to submit its written notes on the controversial issues.
 
Parliament went on to say that the British diplomat was “convinced by their view and by the strong argument presented to him.”
 
It is noteworthy that the British ambassador to Libya also met with the dialogue committee of the High State Council and heard their views on the matter.
 
In earlier remarks this week, Nasieh said the reason behind his delegation’s withdrawal was the insistence of the High State Council’s dialogue committee not to resolve controversial issues and to return to points and understandings that have already been resolved.
 
The council responded by saying that no amendments were originally requested.

UN Envoy to Submit to Hadi New Initiative for Crisis Resolution

UN Secretary-General Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed speaks to media after the Yemen peace talks in Switzerland in Bern

Jeddah – UN Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to meet with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and ministers in the Yemeni government, to present highlights of his new initiative for a political solution in the war-torn country.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Malek al-Mekhlafi told Asharq al-Awsat that during the upcoming meetings, the government would only listen to Ould Cheikh’s ideas then agree on the next measures to be taken. He noted that the government had not received any details about the new initiative.

He also said that the UN envoy would meet during his visit to Saudi Arabia with the ambassadors of the permanent members of the Security Council, and would hold another round of meetings with the Saudi side, noting that talks would focus on the new ideas for the solution in Yemen.

Yemeni sources said that optimism of Yemeni political leaders and the public opinion with the ability of the United Nations to reach a solution to the crisis is gradually diminishing in light of the failure of many previous initiatives and proposals, the latest of which was putting the port of Hodeidah under UN administration and lifting the siege on Taiz.

The UN envoy’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes two weeks after the UN issued its annual report on the situation of children in armed conflicts, in which it accused the Saudi-led coalition of breaching children’s rights in Yemen.

The report was met with a wave of international condemnation for containing inaccurate information and figures, which were based on unreliable sources. This issue will also be tackled during Hadi’s meeting with Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Top Yemeni Official Escapes an Armed Ambush

Yemen

Aden – Yemeni Deputy Premier and Minister of Civil Service Abdulaziz Jubari and his accompanying delegation survived an armed ambush in Tur al-Bahah district of Lahij governorate on their way back from Taiz where they spent two weeks.

A few days ago, Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Dagher’s convoy was ambushed as well in the same area. Al-Sabiha tribes residing in the area denounced this act and apologized to the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, legitimate government consolidated its presence in several liberated and semi-liberated areas, especially in providing services, salaries and solving other issues.

Observers believed that these incidents may be linked to the insurgents who are trying to create chaos in the liberated districts.

Yemeni political observer Baleegh al-Mekhlafi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that recent measures taken by the governmental envoy in Taiz had inconvenienced these forces and people of personal agendas and that is why there had been several attempts against Jubari.

In latest field developments, a number of Saleh and Houthi militants were killed during army military operations backed by the popular resistance in al-Baydaa district in the center of Yemen.

Tribal sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that intense clashes erupted between the army backed by the resistance and militias in az-Zahir district, following a failed infiltrating attempt.

Army commander, Sheikh Ali Taher stated that the military operations of the resistance resulted in the death and injury of several militants.

Taher explained to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the army and popular resistance are rearranging and reorganizing troops in areas within their control. He added that the areas witnessed several clashes between the army and the militias who are trying to advance and infiltrate into Al Hmyqan sites, however, they are met with fierce resistance.

Taher also stated that every now and then, Houthis raid on residential areas and civilians.

In Hajjah district, on border with Saudi Arabia, Saudi-led coalition intensified its air raids on militias sites and clusters in Harad.

Local residents told Asharq Al-Awsat that the coalition launched about 15 air raids over several areas in Bani Haddad, al-Mazrak, and center of Harad.

Sources reported that the national army thwarted militias infiltrations towards several areas in Midi city and forced the attackers to retreat after several militants were killed and injured.

Also, National Army forces raided on several militia clusters in al-Akda area of Usaylan district in Shabwah governorate, south Yemen.

Military sources reported that the raids came few hours after a fire exchange between both sides in al-Khaydar area.

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.

Yemen’s Legitimacy Consolidates its Presence in Besieged Taiz

Taiz– Yemen’s legitimacy has continued to improve its services in Taiz despite the siege enforced by Houthi and Saleh militias.

In that regard, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service Abdulaziz Jubari inaugurated the local automated passport issuance center in the district and monitored the issuance of the first passport after a nearly three-year shutdown.

“The re-inauguration of passport issuance is a significant step in the process of rendering state institutions in Taiz functional,” State news agency quoted Jubari as saying.

The Deputy PM stated that there has been a distinguished pace in re-normalizing life ever since the Central Bank’s branch, executive offices, schools and universities, and security and military apparatus premises have been re-opened.

Jubari believed that a larger number of services will help overcome all adversities and bring the situation back to normal in Taiz.

Furthermore, the minister allocated over 22 million Yemeni riyal to 55 amputees in Taiz.

Jubari also chaired a meeting with the local authority in Taiz to oversee the re-normalization of life and resolve the issue of the largely unpaid salaries of civil servants.

He also directed the renovation of the governorate’s main offices, and ordered work to be continued from temporary offices.

Jubari lauded the sacrifices of people of Taiz for “enduring the devastation of war and blockade,” adding they taught the militias valuable lessons that can’t be forgotten throughout history.

Meanwhile, Houthi and Saleh militias continued to target residential areas in Taiz, mainly its eastern neighborhoods.

Local activist Mokhtar Ahmed told Asharq Al-Awsat that militias are still committing crimes in Taiz amid an international silence. He stated that shelling on a residential area killed a man, and a woman who had already lost two of her children in previous Houthi attacks.

Ahmed also indicated that at least two civilians were killed by shelling on General Thawra Hospital.

In other news, Minister of Social Affairs Ibtihaj al-Kamal warned that the future of children in the militia-controlled areas is in great danger because the insurgents have disrupted their school life.

In a statement to Saba News Agency, Kamal said insurgents are the biggest violator of children’s rights in Yemen with the “suspension of education” in many schools, because of the militias’ failure to pay salaries to teachers, and their infusion of school textbooks with “a racist sectarian ideology.”

“The coup militias have worked to destroy 1,700 schools, deprive 2.5 million children of education and print 11,000 textbooks having a racist sectarian ideology,” she indicated, adding that about 9,000 children under the legal age were denied their education rights and were forced into battlefields.

The minister appealed to human rights organizations to force the radical militia to stop implicating children in their lost war and to comply with international laws concerning children’s rights. She called on the UN’s agencies to blacklist the militia as a violator of children’s rights.

Kamal pointed out that King Salman Center for Relief (KSrelief) is working on rehabilitating children formerly recruited as militia fighters to be integrated again into the society through a number of programs in Maerib and al-Jouf districts. 

US Central Command Raids ISIS Training Camps in Yemen

US- Yemen

Aden, London – US forces killed dozens of ISIS militants in a strike on two ISIS training camps, Oct. 16, in al-Bayda governorate, center of Yemen. However, security officials and locals said the strike targeted militants belonging to al-Qaeda and not ISIS terrorist group.

US Central Command announced that its forces raided two ISIS camps used to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training which resulted in disrupting the organization’s attempts to train new fighters.

Strikes against ISIS targets disrupt and destroy militants’ attack-plotting efforts, leadership networks, and freedom of maneuver within the region, according to Central Command.

“In coordination with the government of Yemen, US forces are supporting ongoing counter-terrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and AQAP to degrade the groups’ ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen,” reiterated the Command.

Local eyewitnesses told Reuters that tribal leaders were not allowed near the area in Bayda out of fear of another strike.

Locals reported that the two camps were named after two ISIS leaders who were killed during a US airstrike last summer: ISIS leader in Yemen Abu Bilal al-Harbi and ISIS spokesperson Abu Mohamemd al-Adnani.

A Yemeni security official stated that five al-Qaeda militants were killed in an airstrike believed to be done by the US forces. He explained that 12 raids targeted Qaeda sites in al-Abal and Yekla areas in Ould Rabieh district of Bayda governorate which is considered the organization’s stronghold in the country.

Locals told Asharq al-Awsat that the raid happened after three days of intense drones= hovering above the area, adding that it still wasn’t clear how many militants were killed or injured because people were afraid to approach the area as US aircraft hovered over for hours.

US drones continue to target militants suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations in Yemen’s center. On October 8, US drones killed five ISIS militants northwest of Maerib.

Since January, US intensified its raids on Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) with over 100 strikes on Bayda, Shabwa, Maerib, Hadramout, and Abyen.

According to statistics, over 120 militants were killed during those raids including senior commanders.

Yemeni Interior Minister: Saleh in Poor Health

Yemeni Minister of Interior General Hussein Arab (R) meets with Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Rabiah (L).

Riyadh- Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior General Hussein Arab said that ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in a poor health condition.

Saleh was suffering from a disease that required the intervention of a medical team from Russia to treat him at the Russian Embassy in Yemen, he added.

During his meeting with Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Rabiah, Consultant at the Royal Court and General Supervisor of King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) in Riyadh on Monday, Arab said that the coup in Yemen led to the destruction of the infrastructure since all the establishments of the Interior Ministry were destroyed by Houthi militias, who also looted all the ministry’s equipment.

Arab pointed out that Yemen’s interior ministry was able to re-establish its building and role in the country with the help of coalition countries.

He added that the KSRelief has saved many lives in Yemen and the rest countries of the world, confirming that the center supports Yemeni hospitals and health centers through providing medical supplies and medicines.

The great support, upon directives by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, led to a decline in the cholera epidemic in Yemen, Arab stressed.

The Yemeni minister added that the Kingdom provided treatment to the injured people inside and outside Yemen as well as in the hospitals of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Sudan.

“Iran has goals in Yemen,” Arab said, adding that “the Persian plan in Yemen is clear, and everyone knows that the Iranian mentality continues to try to reach its goals, and the intervention of the Arab coalition obstructed the achievement of these goals.”

He also talked about the latest report issued by the United Nations and said that the report was based on false information, explaining that the information given to the UN was from people who tried to find incorrect information and upload pictures of crimes carried out by the Houthi militias in Taiz and claiming they were carried out by Arab coalition forces.

Arab stressed that the Arab coalition is keen on following the rules of engagement and to refuse to carry out random military strikes, fearing for the lives of civilians or women.

London Calls on UN to Avoid Misleading Information on Yemen

Alistair Burt MP, Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Riyadh- Britain’s Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt called on Monday United Nations’ agencies operating in Yemen to gather all accessible information in order to avoid being misled.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper during his visit to Riyadh, Burt encouraged assisting those UN agencies that have a difficult mission in Yemen.

Asked about the latest UN Secretary General’s annual Children and armed conflict report (CAAC) that drove dispute for including inaccurate information, Burt said: “I believe this is an issue related to the UN. And, it is important that the UN receives all available resources as some issues might be purely disputed and therefore, certain people could offer misleading information.”

He added that the UK cooperates with the UN. “They are trying to realize a hard mission, but in my opinion, what is more important is to remove the motives of strife in order to avoid similar reports in the future,” he explained.

The British minister said that his visit to Saudi Arabia comes in the framework of coordination concerning the Yemeni file, adding that the UK would place all its efforts in coordination with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States to politically end the Yemeni crisis.

“I met Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in New York and we spoke on the phone. I am pleased to meet him again. We currently have a specific issue to discuss, which is Yemen,” Burt said, adding that the two countries would work together to end the strife and support UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his mission.

Burt described the Saudi-British relationship as “very important,” particularly in the fields of security and commerce.

“My visit also aims to enhance those relations, and I was offered the chance to meet with the British consular officers working in the Kingdom to tackle opportunities in the tourism sectors and to share our experiences in the fields of museums and heritage,” he said.