Discussion in 'Military News and Clips' started by Rover, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Yemen ‘withdraws permission for US ground raids’ after Donald Trump’s first botched military operation

    Reported decision would mark major set back for new US president, who has emphasised tackling Islamic extremism is a priority of his administration

    Yemen has denied reports that it has withdrawn its permission for the US to conduct special operations missions in the country after a raid on an al-Qaeda base last month killed up to 30 civilians and a US Navy SEAL.

    There has been widespread anger in Yemen at the reported loss of life in a ground raid in which “almost everything went wrong”, as one US military official described it, leading Yemeni officials to suspend the counter-terror programme.

    Neither Yemen nor the US have officially announced the decision, which was reported by the New York Times, citing unnamed American officials, on Tuesday.

    Representatives from the Yemeni government said on Wednesday that the report was erroneous.

    “We have not withdrawn our permission for the United States to carry out special operations ground missions. However, we made clear our reservations about the last operation,” a senior Yemeni official told Reuters news agency.

    The world has forgotten the Yemen war, says senior UN humanitarian official

    Several Yemeni officials said that they had not been given proper notice or fully consulted on the raid before it took place. Foreign minister Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi condemned the raid in a Twitter post as “extrajudicial killings”.

    It is also unclear whether US President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban for citizens of Yemen and six other Muslim countries – which is currently being challenged in federal courts – had any bearing on the reported Yemeni decision.

    The withdrawal of permission for ground raids would not affect unmanned drone missions, nor the small number of US personnel currently assisting anti-terror initiatives in the country.

    A ban on US operations would be a set back for the new President, who made much of his promise on the campaign trail to be “tough on Isis” and other religious extremism. An investigation into the events of the 29 January raid is ongoing.

    The Pentagon repeatedly sought permission from Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to allow operations to take place without detailed White House review. It is not known whether the Yemeni decision will impact any future plans to allow the Pentagon to operate more freely.

    The botched operation was planned under Mr Obama, but the White House later clarified it had been reviewed and approved by the Trump administration.

    As well as the reported civilian casualties and the death of 36-year-old Navy SEAL Owen Williams, the MV-22 Osprey carrying the troops apparently landed hard, injuring several on board, and had to be destroyed.

    The majority of the deaths are thought to have occurred during a 50-minute-long gun battle. Several children, including the eight-year-old daughter of American-born Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Alwaki, who himself died in Yemen in 2011, were reported killed in the crossfire.

    The mission, which White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has continually defended as a success, had originally been intended to capture intelligence and computer equipment. Mr Trump’s team has denied allegations from NBC News that the mission’s secret objective was to kill or capture a top al-Qaeda leader.

    Yemen is currently in the grips of an almost two-year long civil war which has pitted Shia Houthi rebels, who control much of the country, against the internationally recognised exiled government. More than 10,000 people have died in the conflict, the UN says.

    Extremist groups such as al-Qaeda have taken advantage of Yemen’s chaos, establishing several strongholds in the country.
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  2. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Are Yemeni rebels imploding?

    Bruce Riedel September 3, 2017

    Article Summary

    Saudi Arabia's hope to exit the Yemen scene could depend largely on Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Yemeni rebel factions' falling apart.

    REUTERS/Naif Rahma

    Saudi Arabia is hoping the Yemeni rebel alliance is fracturing, which could open the door for the Saudi alliance to escape the quagmire Riyadh is stuck in. It's a long shot, and not a viable strategy for Washington.

    The Zaydi Shiite Houthi rebels aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, 75, three years ago to seize Sanaa from the collapsing government of his onetime deputy and successor Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. It was a strange and awkward alliance from the start. Saleh, also a Zaydi, had waged war against the Houthis for a decade before the Arab Spring, often with Saudi assistance. The Houthis backed Saleh's removal from power in 2012 — this time with Saudi assistance. In 2015, the two rivals saw a convergence of interests to oust Hadi and take control of North Yemen. At first it was a clandestine partnership until the full extent of Saleh's betrayal of his former deputy, and the Saudi-engineered deal that put Hadi in power, became apparent.

    The Saudi relationship with Saleh goes back to the early 1960s when he backed the pro-Egyptian coup that plunged Yemen into civil war for years, pitting the Egyptian-backed republicans against the Saudi-backed royalists. Saleh got his combat training fighting the Saudis and the royalists, taking power in a coup in 1978. Twelve years later he united North and South Yemen, but then backed Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the Kuwait crisis. The Saudis swore revenge and threw a million Yemeni workers out of the kingdom.

    In 1994, the Saudis engineered the south Yemenis' secession from Saleh's united Yemen by backing the former communists who had lost power in unification. With the help of jihadi groups, Saleh outfought the southern rebellion, restored unity and humiliated the kingdom. It was a very bitter pill for the Saudis.

    During the last 2½ years of the new civil war, Saleh and the Houthis have been wary partners. Saleh has quietly tried to keep his options open, using his son Ahmed, who travels often to Abu Dhabi. It is characteristic of Saleh, the man who described ruling Yemen as the equivalent of dancing on snake heads. He is hoping to use divisions within the coalition between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Hadi, essentially playing the Emiratis. Reportedly, he is in touch with Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It is the trademark of an unscrupulous dictator who has misruled his country for decades.

    For months, the simmering divisions within the rebellion were kept under the surface but sufficiently restive to give the Saudis and their allies — including some in US President Donald Trump's team — hope that the rebels will fight each other. Last month, a clash did break out and a senior Saleh bodyguard was killed. Briefly, Saleh was under apparent house arrest in Sanaa, but then he appeared conciliatory in public to the Houthis. Still, he has called for tribal revenge for his lieutenant's death. Sanaa is now divided between the two camps, with the Houthis holding about 70% of the capital and most of the north. More violence is all but certain; whether it can be contained is an open question.

    The war itself has escalated this year and become even more expensive for Riyadh. Flight operations by the Saudi air force and its partners have soared. According to the United Nations, there were 5,766 airstrikes by the coalition in the first six months of 2017, compared with 3,936 in all of 2016. Fighting on the ground has increased, too. In addition, the rebels continue to develop medium-range missiles with Iranian help to target Saudi cities.

    So a war within the rebel camp has a potential for dividing the kingdom's enemies. Some senior Saudi officials have told their American counterparts that this may be their best chance to end the war on favorable terms. The Saudi media eagerly reports news of conflict between the rebel factions. The irony of the Saudis' depending on Saleh for their salvation is rich poignancy.

    Thoughtful Saudis are deeply skeptical about Saleh, doubting that he will really be prepared to support the restoration of Hadi's government, even if it is rearranged to broaden its appeal. The alternative of turning back the clock to 2012 and putting Saleh or his sons in power is even less appealing. At best, the clash within the rebel camp will turn the conflict into a three-sided civil war that could go on without end. The worst outcome for the Saudis would be if the Houthis quickly routed Saleh's supporters and consolidated their control of the rebellion. The two camps may also remain united despite their differences and contain occasional flare-ups of violence.

    Cynics can argue that the real strategy of the Saudi coalition is to rely on starvation and disease to wear down the Yemeni people. The United Nations has labeled the war the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world; malnutrition and cholera are epidemic, and the fragile infrastructure of the poorest Arab state is being systematically destroyed by the wealthiest Arab states. The world has largely ignored the problem, not wanting to take on the oil-rich coalition.

    The Saudi counterargument is that they have pledged large sums of money, $8.2 billion, to aid and relief efforts in Yemen. While true, the aid is a Band-Aid on a chest wound. It does not balance the damage done by the blockade of Yemeni ports and airfields.

    The urgent necessity is an unconditional cease-fire supervised by the UN. The blockade should be lifted. The United States and the United Kingdom, whose support is essential to the Saudi air force, should sponsor a UN Security Council resolution unlinked to previous pro-Saudi resolutions demanding all parties immediately and unilaterally cease military operations or face sanctions, including a halt to all arms sales and transactions. The United States and Britain cannot escape culpability for their role in the war as the armorers of a brutal air war and blockade.

    Iran is the only winner, as it provides aid and expertise to the Houthis at a tiny fraction of the cost of the Saudi war effort while the Islamic Republic's Gulf enemies spend fortunes on a conflict they jumped into with no endgame or strategy. Saleh is an unlikely savior.

    Found in: Non-state armed actors, Intra-Gulf relations

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  3. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Yemen civil war: Deadly clashes between separatists and government forces deepens split between Gulf allies

    Events risk worsening coalition efforts against Iran-aligned Houthis after three years of bitter conflict

    Several people were killed as Yemeni armed groups allied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates fought in the southern city of Aden on Sunday, local medical staff said, deepening a rift between forces that had been on the same side.

    The worst clashes yet between UAE-backed southern separatists and forces loyal to the Saudi-based government risk crippling their once united war effort against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen's north.

    An unprecedented military adventure for the usually cautious Gulf states, the campaign in their much poorer and less politically stable neighbour was aimed at sending a decisive signal that they would oppose Iranian expansion in their midst.

    But Yemen has been torn apart by three years of conflict and the factional fighting in the south compounds the misery.

    Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher denounced moves by southern separatists as a coup, saying the situation was moving toward "a comprehensive military confrontation ... (which is) a direct gift to the Houthis and Iran".

    Gunmen were deployed throughout most districts of Aden on Sunday and there was heavy automatic gunfire and explosions in the southern port city, according to Reuters witnesses.

    Armed separatists wrested a key military base and several government buildings from soldiers loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi as residents reported that hundreds of pro-Southern demonstrators had gathered in a main square.

    The clashes come as a deadline imposed by the separatists for the government to resign expired on Sunday.

    Although Hadi remains in exile in Saudi Arabia, his administration nominally controls about four-fifths of Yemen's territory, but political and military leaders in Aden now want to revive the former independent state of South Yemen.

    The southern separatists – the Southern Resistance Forces – last week accused Hadi's cabinet of corruption and inefficiency and demanded they quit.

    A top military adviser to President Hadi, Mohammed Ali al-Miqdashi, said any move towards rebellion would render the southerners an enemy.

    "There is no difference between the Houthis and anyone else who rebels against the legitimate government, no matter who they are – left, right, south, east," said Miqdashi, speaking at a remote military base near the central Yemeni city of Marib, late on Saturday.

    A senior southern political source accused the government of pushing the dispute towards an armed showdown.

    "The Hadi government was nervous about any demonstration by the people, so they tried to stop it by force thinking that if there were a battle, the coalition would intervene and save them," the source said.

    In a statement late on Saturday before the clashes began, the Saudi-led coalition urged all parties to seek "calm and restraint, adhering to the language of a calm dialogue."
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  4. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    In Blow to Saudi Plans, Yemen Allies Turn Guns on Each Other


    Mohammed Hatem

    Zainab Fattah

    ‎29‎ ‎January‎ ‎2018‎ ‎16‎:‎01 Updated on ‎30‎ ‎January‎ ‎2018‎ ‎08‎:‎26

    · Fighting in Aden may indicate Saudi, U.A.E. policy splits

    · Separatists demand Saudi-backed president dismiss government

    Saudi Arabia’s offensive to restore a friendly government in neighboring Yemen is facing new turmoil, as two forces which have fought on the kingdom’s side turn their guns on each other.

    The clashes in the southern city of Aden, where the pro-Saudi elected government of Yemen is based, threaten to weaken the coalition built by Riyadh in its proxy conflict with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. About 36 people have been killed and 185 wounded in two days of fighting, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    The secessionist Southern Transitional Council had supported the Saudi campaign, but a week ago it demanded Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi dismiss his administration, which it accuses of corruption, or have it toppled. When Hadi refused to comply, the separatists orchestrated anti-government rallies and fighting broke out.

    Yemen’s battlefield is heavily fractured and loyalties often shift. But the council has been backed by the United Arab Emirates, a key Saudi ally, and the fighting in Aden could signify growing tensions in the coalition as it appears no nearer to winning the war, said Noha Aboueldahab, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.

    The Saudi-led coalition warned it would take all necessary measures to restore order and called for an immediate end to clashes, according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Coalition war planes flew over the presidential palace in the city to stop the advance of separatist forces, the Aden-based Alghad newspaper reported.

    Separatist Sentiment

    “Almost three years on, it would not be surprising to see a weakening of the coalition,” Aboueldahab said in an email. If the U.A.E. comes under pressure to rethink it’s support, southern resistance groups that played an important role in driving the Houthis from Aden could permanently split away, she said.

    Aden was the capital of a separate state of South Yemen before unification with the north in 1990, and separatist sentiments there have been fanned by the widespread sense that the region has been dominated and repressed.

    The Saudi-led coalition has been unable to exert its authority over the entire country since intervening in March 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of Hadi.

    Saudi Arabia has accused Shiite Iran of arming the Houthis in one of their multiple confrontations in the region, and poured billions of dollars into the conflict. Missiles fired at Saudi Arabia’s international airport and royal palace in the capital, Riyadh, in recent months have raised fears of a direct military confrontation. Tehran denies that its support for the Houthi rebels amounts to direct military assistance.

    Clear Strategy

    If another front is opening in the strategically placed port city, it’s likely to bring more misery for the millions of Yemenis facing hunger and daily violence. Persistent fighting would make it more difficult to distribute desperately needed humanitarian supplies. The Arab world’s poorest country has weathered a cholera epidemic and now faces famine.

    Tensions in Aden indicate that Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have failed to develop a clear political and military strategy for the south, according to Yezid Sayigh, senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

    “The Emiratis and the Saudis have been operating in very different ways on the ground inside Yemen,” Sayigh said. “And they’ve ended up supporting different kinds of fighting groups.”
  5. GreyWing

    GreyWing Nobody

    Feb 21, 2007
    Bit of a game changer when these sorts of things start to appear from somewhere.

    Saudi F15 downed over Yemen according to the clip

    From comments on the site, it's a Soviet built air to air missile that's modified to fire from the ground.
  6. News

    News RSS Feed

    Feb 1, 2008
    Rebel-held Hudaydah's port is the lifeline for just under two-thirds of Yemen's population.

    Continue reading...
  7. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Some background...


    The Yemeni war (2015-present) began between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government. Houthi forces allied with forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh confronted forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.In March 2015, Houthi-Saleh forces captured Sana, the last remaining stronghold of pro-Hadi forces. Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia that responded with a large-scale invasion to Yemen in an attempt to re-establish its proxy in power.ISIS and al-Qaeda were also involved in the conflict, carrying out attacks across the country.

    Some updates....

    Houthis Strike Warship Of Saudi-led Coalition With Two Anti-Ship Missiles


    “al-Mandab 1”

    On June 13, the Yemeni Navy [loyal to the Houthis] announced that it had targeted a warship of the Saudi-led coalition off the coast of the western city of al-Hudaydah with two anti-ship missiles. The Yemeni al-Masirah TV said that the warship was seen burning, and that boats of the coalition are currently rescuing its crew.

    According to the Yemeni Navy, the warship was one of the many participating in the attack on al-Hudaydah, which began few hours ago. Reportedly, the warships were approaching the coast of the western city to land troops of the Saudi-led coalition, but backed off following the “missile” strike.

    The Yemeni Navy claims that it used anti-ship missiles to target the Saudi-led coalition warship. The Houthis showcased “locally-manufactured” anti-ship missile called “al-Mandab 1” in late 2017. Back then, experts revealed that the missiles is the Chinese-made C-801 subsonic anti-ship missile, which was imported by Yemen in 1995.

    However, the Yemeni Navy usually use water-born improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs) to attack Saudi-led coalition warships. The port of al-Hudaydah itself is known to be the key naval facility of the Houthis and the place were such WBIEDs are assembled by Yemeni and Iranian experts.

    On March 23, warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition destroyed two WBIEDs in the port of al-Hudaydah, according to the Emirates News Agency (WMA).

    Observers believe that the Yemeni Navy will use all of its remaining assets during the battle of al-Hudaydah because of the importance of this port city for the Yemeni forces.

    Houthis Destroy 13 Vehicles South Of Al-Hudaydah, Kill Four Emirati Soldiers

    On June 13, Houthi fighters destroyed thirteen vehicles of the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni proxies while defending their positions south of the port city of al-Hudaydah along the western Yemeni coast, according to the Yemeni al-Masirah TV. The Houthis targeted the vehicles with ATGMs, rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs.

    Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni proxies launched their ground attack on al-Hudaydah. According to Yemeni sources, the coalition has failed to capture any key position south of the coastal city so far.

    Meanwhile, the Emirates News Agency (WMA) announced that four service members of the UAE military were killed in Yemen, including a First Lieutenant of the UAE Navy. This confirms that the Houthis managed to hit a warship of the Saudi-led coalition as they had claimed before.

    Pro-Houthi sources claimed that several warships of the Saudi-led coalitions attempted to land troops on the coast of the city of al-Hudaydah in the early hours of June 13. However, the attempt was foiled by the Houthis and the Yemeni Navy.

    The Saudi-led coalition may repeat the attempt in the upcoming days, especially that its troops appear to be unable to advance towards the airport of al-Hudaydah south of the city.

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  8. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Battle for Hodeidah: Why is the Yemeni city so important and what will the fighting mean for civilians?

    Two-thirds of Yemen’s population relies on Hodeidah for food and aid. If the vital port is damaged, the country could tip over the edge into full-scale famine

    Who is fighting in Hodeidah and why?

    The port city has been controlled by Yemen’s Houthi rebels since 2015. It is an important commercial centre, but since the war broke out, Hodeidah has become Yemen’s aid lifeline.

    The new assault by the Arab coalition that backs Yemen’s exiled government has been a long time coming.

    It involves three different Yemeni factions allied with the government, as well as Saudi and UAE forces. At least 2,000 troops are on the city’s outskirts and coalition airstrikes have begun.

    Keith Vaz urges UK government to rethink their position on Yemen airstrikes

    The coalition hopes that retaking the city could potentially open a pathway to finally retaking the capital of Sanaa from the rebels.

    Why are the UN and aid agencies sounding the alarm?

    Almost 80 per cent of Yemen’s imports, including much of its food, flowed through Hodeidah even before the war broke out in 2015.

    The port is basically now the country’s only aid and goods pipeline thanks to a Saudi-led blockade of Yemen’s borders and air space – so any damage to it could cut off crucially needed supplies.

    A staggering two-thirds of Yemen’s 28-million-strong population is dependent on aid to survive, and 8 million of those are food insecure.

    Why Yemen's future threatens to destroy its past

    “Yemen is on the precipice of a full scale famine. A major attack on Hodeidah could act as the catalyst for that,” Save the Children’s executive director, Kevin Watkins, told The Independent.

    “We and other agencies are doing what we can but the scale of need in Yemen is already beyond our capabilities.”

    What happens next?

    Hodeidah will be the biggest battle in Yemen’s three-year-old war to date, and the first that could involve sustained urban warfare – which inflicts heavy casualties on both fighting forces and civilians.

    The United Nations warned last week up to 250,000 of the city’s 600,000 residents were in danger.

    The Houthis have heavily mined the town and surrounding areas, which will slow the coalition’s progress.

    It is hoped the rebels will capitulate quickly and retreat to the surrounding mountains, but there have been promises to give government forces “hell on hell” before doing so.

    To date, coalition bombing in the country has managed to indiscriminately hit civilian infrastructure. Many observers are worried Hodeidah will suffer more of the same.

    Is there any chance the fighting can be avoided?

    The UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is still trying to broker a deal with both sides to at least make sure the port is put under neutral UN jurisdiction during any fighting.

    While talks are on going, Saudi state news announced in the early hours of Wednesday that a 48-hour negotiating period had expired and the offensive was underway.

    Several actors have warned that the offensive could derail overall peace talks and render short-term military gains ineffective.

    While the US state department has always vociferously warned against an assault on Hodeidah, in recent weeks the line appears to have softened.

    A statement from the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday said that the US was closely monitoring the situation, but did not explicitly ask the UAE to hold off on the offensive.
  9. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Update on the situation in Hodeida, Yemen, 16 June 2018


    from Norwegian Refugee Council

    Published on 16 Jun 2018

    . Clashes are continuing just south of Hodeidah city during the Eid al-Fitr festival, one of the most important religious holidays for Muslims. Many people in Hodeidah left their homes yesterday to go to Mosque or visit friends and family, but many are frightened to move far from their homes.

    · Fighting is ongoing in several locations near the city's southern outskirts, where Ansar Allah troops are holding a line close to Hodeidah airport. Frontlines elsewhere have shifted inland in response to heavy coalition airstrikes.

    · Many residents of Hodeidah with family elsewhere in the country, or the resources to leave, have done so for the Eid break and are very unlikely to return while the situation remains fragile. Humanitarian agencies cannot currently access areas south of the city where people are most likely to have been injured, affected and displaced, leaving us without a clear picture of needs.

    · Humanitarian agencies have had to pause almost all operations in Hodeidah city, where clashes along the border between the Ad Durayhimi and Al Hawak districts approach highly-populated residential areas.

    · NRC is delivering cholera prevention and response activities in Al Hawak district but movements to the area have stopped pending a break in the fighting.

    · Though humanitarian agencies are pre-positioning bulk supplies across nine service points across Hodeidah, unpredictable frontlines and a lack of safe access passages currently puts Yemeni people at risk when trying to move to access them.

    · While Hodeidah Port remains open, with six vessels at berth and four waiting offshore at anchorage, the latter figure is 75 per cent lower than at the same time in mid-May.

    · As fewer goods reach the port and movement inland is slowed or stopped altogether, there will be less food available in markets across the country.

    · NRC and other humanitarian organisations have teams working in various locations to urgently procure supplies and drastically upscale their provision of emergency food, shelter, water and hygiene items across all areas that will be affected by the reduction in imports.

    The Norwegian Refugee Council's Office Coordinator in Hodeidah, Saleem Al -Shamiri said from Sana'a:

    "I have close family in Hodeidah now who are telling me the situation is getting scarier. People feel more tension with every day that passes, wondering what will happen tomorrow, or next week, or in a few minutes. Eid should be a peaceful and happy time for us to spend with our families, not a period of waiting to know whether your house will be hit when fighting reaches the city."

    "I am deeply worried about people who fled to Hodeidah city because their homes were under attack in other areas. Tens of thousands of people came with nothing and are now left to fend for themselves until we can get to them with food and clean water. These are my fellow Yemenis, my neighbours and colleagues. They need help, but what they need most is a guarantee they will be safe."

    "Wars are unpredictable, and we are worried about everything. We urge the fighting parties to protect the port and the roads that lead from it so that food and medicine can still reach those who need it, and people in Hodeidah can escape if they need to."


    · 29.3 million individuals live in Yemen
    · 3.32 million individuals live in Hodeidah governorate
    · 104,292 individuals are displaced in Hodeidah.
    · 70,000 individuals have been displaced from Hodeidah since 1stDecember, 2017
    · 162,540 individuals or nearly 15 per cent of the population are suspected to have cholera
    · 2.7 million individuals are in need of humanitarian assistance
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  10. News

    News RSS Feed

    Feb 1, 2008
    Saudi-backed government forces say they have freed the hub from Houthi rebels.

    Continue reading...
  11. News

    News RSS Feed

    Feb 1, 2008
    Fighting goes on despite government reports the airport in the key Yemen city was seized from rebels.

    Continue reading...
  12. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Report: Saudi-UAE coalition 'cut deals' with al-Qaeda in Yemeno_O

    Military alliance battling Houthi rebels negotiated secret deals and recruited al-Qaeda fighters, AP report says.

    Hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters were reportedly recruited to join the Saudi-Emirati coalition [File: Hani Mohammed/AP]

    A military coalition battling Houthi rebels secured secret deals with al-Qaeda in Yemen and recruited hundreds of the group's fighters, a news report said on Monday.

    For more than two years, a Saudi-led alliance - backed by US logistical and weapons support - claimed it crushed al-Qaeda's ability to carry out attacks from Yemen.

    However, an investigation by The Associated Press found the coalition has been paying some al-Qaeda commanders to leave key cities and towns while letting others retreat with weapons, equipment, and wads of looted cash.-banghead-

    Hundreds of al-Qaeda members were recruited to join the coalition as soldiers, the report said.

    Key figures in the deal-making said the United States was aware of the arrangements and held off on drone attacks against the armed group, which was created by Osama bin Laden in 1988.

    The deals uncovered by the AP investigation reflect the contradictory interests of the two wars being waged simultaneously in the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

    In one conflict, the US is working with its Arab allies - particularly the UAE - with the aim of eliminating al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But the larger mission is to win the civil war against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

    And in that fight, al-Qaeda fighters are effectively on the same side as the Saudi-led coalition and, by extension, the US.:confused:

    "Elements of the US military are clearly aware that much of what the US is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that," said Michael Horton, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

    "However, supporting the UAE and Saudi Arabia against what the US views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP and even stabilising Yemen," Horton said.

    'A farce'

    Coalition-backed fighters actively recruit al-Qaeda fighters - or those who were recently members - because they are considered exceptional on the battlefield, according to on-the-ground interviews.

    Horton said much of the war on al-Qaeda by the UAE and its allied fighters is "a farce."

    "It is now almost impossible to untangle who is AQAP and who is not since so many deals and alliances have been made," he said.

    The Pentagon recently vigorously denied any complicity with al-Qaeda fighters.

    "Since the beginning of 2017, we have conducted more than 140 strikes to remove key AQAP leaders and disrupt its ability to use ungoverned spaces to recruit, train and plan operations against the US and our partners across the region," Navy Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, wrote in an email.

    A senior Saudi official said the Saudi-led coalition "continues its commitment to combat extremism and terrorism". A UAE government spokesperson did not respond to questions.

    New recruits

    Concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and a coalition of Arab states launched a military offensive in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at re-installing the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    Al-Qaeda is leveraging the chaos to its advantage.

    "The US is certainly in a bind in Yemen," said Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    "It doesn't make sense that the United States has identified al-Qaeda as a threat, but that we have common interests inside of Yemen and that, in some places, it looks like we're looking the other way."

    Within this complicated conflict, al-Qaeda says its numbers - which US officials have estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 members - are rising.

    In February, Emirati troops and their Yemeni government fighter allies declared the recapture of al-Said, a district of villages running through the mountainous province of Shabwa - an area al-Qaeda had largely dominated for nearly three years.

    It was painted as a crowning victory in a months-long offensive known as Operation Swift Sword.

    But weeks before those forces' entry, a string of pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns and loaded with masked al-Qaeda fighters drove out of al-Said unmolested, according to a tribal mediator involved in the deal for their withdrawal.

    Under the terms of the agreement, the coalition promised al-Qaeda members it would pay them up to 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,000) to leave, according to Awad al-Dahboul, the province's security chief.

    His account was confirmed by the mediator and two Yemeni government officials.

    Under the accord, thousands of local tribal fighters were to be enlisted in the UAE-funded Shabwa Elite Force militia. For every 1,000 fighters, 50 to 70 would be al-Qaeda members, the mediator and two officials said.

    For many Yemenis, al-Qaeda is simply another faction on the ground - a very effective one, well-armed and battle-hardened.

    Its members are not shadowy strangers. Over the years, AQAP has woven itself into society by building ties with tribes, buying loyalties, and marrying into major families.

    Power players often see it as a useful tool.

    Hadi's predecessor as Yemen's president, long-ruling strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, set the model. He took billions in US aid to combat al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks, even as he recruited its fighters to battle his rivals.

    The branch is following guidance from global al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to focus on fighting Houthi rebels, another top AQAP member said.

    The impact of the intertwining of al-Qaeda fighters with the coalition campaign is clearest in Taiz, Yemen's largest city and centre of one of the war's longest-running battles.

    In 2015, Houthis laid siege to the city, occupying surrounding mountain ranges, sealing the entrances, and shelling it mercilessly.

    Taiz residents rose up to fight back, and coalition cash and weapons poured in - as did al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) fighters, all aimed at the same enemy.

    One liberal activist took up arms alongside other men from his neighbourhood to defend the city, and they found themselves fighting side-by-side with al-Qaeda members.

    "There is no filtering in the war. We are all together," said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Abdel-Sattar al-Shamiri, a former adviser to Taiz's governor, said he recognised al-Qaeda's presence from the start and told commanders not to recruit its fighters.

    "Their response was, 'We will unite with the devil in the face of Houthis,'" Shamiri said.
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    Feb 1, 2008
    The bus was hit at a market in Dahyan, in the northern province of Saada.

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