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Thread: Yemen clashes kill 26 as embassy closures continue; last Yemeni Jews eye exodus

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    across the universe Array Olm the Water King's Avatar
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    Default Yemen clashes kill 26 as embassy closures continue; last Yemeni Jews eye exodus

    Yemen clashes kill 26 as embassy closures continue - The Hindu

    Yemen clashes kill 26 as embassy closures continue

    Clashes between Shia Houthi militiamen and Sunni tribesmen fighting alongside al-Qaeda militants killed 26 people in Yemen, local officials said, as the United Arab Emirates joined Saudi Arabia and Western countries in closing its embassy in the country.

    Heavy fighting was ongoing in the southern mountainous province of al-Bayda, leading to the death of 16 Houthi rebels along with 10 Sunni tribesmen and militants, security officials and tribal sources told Reuters.

    The state faces collapse in Yemen two weeks after the Houthi group took formal control of the country and continued an armed push southward.

    France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia have closed their missions in the capital Sanaa and withdrawn staff, citing security concerns.

    The United Arab Emirates announced the closure of its embassy in Sanaa on Saturday, state news agency WAM said.

    It cited "the increasing deterioration of the political and security situation Yemen is witnessing and the tragic events after the Houthis undermined the legitimate authority."

    Yemen's rich Sunni Gulf neighbours loathe the Iranian-backed rebels and have called their rise to power a "coup".

    The embassy closures have isolated Yemen's new rulers and lent urgency to struggling talks over internal power-sharing which the Houthis are conducting with opposition parties.

    Hailing their advance as a "revolution" aimed at corrupt officials and economic ruin, the Houthis dissolved parliament and set up their own ruling body earlier this month.

    Opponents say the group is backed by Yemen's former strongman President Ali Abdullah Saleh — ousted in 2011 Arab Spring protests — and is bent on seizing land and the levers of power.

    The Houthi spread to Yemen's well-armed tribal regions in the East and South has prompted locals to make common cause with militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the deadliest arms of the global militant organisation.

    Months of combat and AQAP bombings directed against Houthi targets in Sanaa have stoked fears of an all-out sectarian war.
    Last edited by Olm the Water King; 02-15-2015 at 02:15 PM.

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    Yemen Huthis disperse protest as more embassies shut -

    Yemen Huthis disperse protest as more embassies shut

    Sunday, February 15, 2015
    From Print Edition

    SANAA: Militiamen behind a power grab fired live rounds to disperse thousands of protesters in central Yemen on Saturday, as security fears prompted more foreign governments to close their embassies in Sanaa.

    In the Saudi capital Riyadh, foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries were holding an extraordinary meeting, with Gulf sources saying they would discuss developments in their impoverished neighbour.

    Home to al-Qaeda’s deadliest branch and a key US ally in the fight against the group, Yemen has descended into chaos since the militia, known as Huthis, seized Sanaa in September.

    Matters worsened last week when they ousted the government.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that Yemen is falling apart and called for Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who resigned last month in protest at growing unrest sparked by the Huthis, to be restored to power.

    In the city of Ibb, which the militia have held since last year, protesters chanted: “Huthi, Iran: Yemen is not Lebanon!”, in reference to predominantly Iran’s alleged support for the militia.

    They also shouted slogans against Russia, which is thought to be reluctant to take a hard line against the Huthis at the UN Security Council.

    Witnesses said the Huthis fired warning shots to disperse the protest, wounding at least six people.

    Similar demonstrations took place in the city of Dhammar which is also under Huthi control, and the southern city of Daleh, where protesters demanded political parties end their UN-brokered talks with the militia in Sanaa.

    In the capital, hundreds protested describing the militia as “gangs that could not build a state.”

    Meanwhile, the family of demonstrator Saleh Awadh al-Bashiri, detained by the Huthis on Wednesday at a protest against their takeover said he had died from torture wounds suffered in captivity.

    Another two protesters who were held with him have also been hospitalised after they were found wounded and left on a street.

    The families posted pictures on social media they said were of their sons showing parts of their bodies bruised and swollen from beatings.

    On Sunday, the Huthis announced a ban on all demonstrations against them unless they are authorised by the interior ministry, which itself is now under their control.

    The militiamen have been accused of attacking and detaining protesters as well as reporters covering demonstrations against their seizure of power.

    Diplomatically, more countries shut their embassies, with Spain and the United Arab Emirates becoming the latest to announce on Saturday they had suspended operations at their missions in Sanaa.

    The UAE foreign ministry said it has also evacuated all staff, following a similar move by GCC leader Saudi Arabia.

    “This decision comes in light of the increasingly deteriorating political and security situation” and the “unfortunate events with the Huthis undermining legitimate authority in the country,” the UAE said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

    The United States, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands have also closed their embassies and withdrawn staff because of security fears.

    And Spain said it was temporarily suspending embassy activity in Yemen “in light of the current situation of insecurity and instability in Sanaa”.

    The embassy had advised all Spanish citizens to “temporarily” leave Yemen, the foreign ministry said.

    And the Turkish foreign ministry “strongly” advised Turks in Yemen to leave.

    The Huthis had said Western powers had no reason to shut their embassies, insisting that security was solid in the capital.

    Tehran had also criticised the “hasty action” of closing the embassies, insisting the Huthis were fighting “corruption and terrorism”.

    Following consultations in New York on Thursday, Britain said it would work with Jordan on a resolution to outline the Security Council’s stance on Yemen.

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    Yemen's last Jews eye exodus after Islamist militia takeover | Reuters

    Yemen's last Jews eye exodus after Islamist militia takeover

    (Reuters) - A few worried families are all that remain of Yemen's ancient Jewish community, and they too may soon flee after a Shi'ite Muslim militia seized power in the strife-torn country this month.

    Harassment by the Houthi movement - whose motto is "Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam" - caused Jews in recent years to largely quit the northern highlands they shared with Yemen's Shi'ites for millennia.

    But political feuds in which the Jews played no part escalated last September into an armed Houthi plunge into the capital Sanaa, the community's main refuge from which some now contemplate a final exodus.

    Around six Yemeni Jews from the same family arrived in Israel on Friday, members of the community told Reuters.

    "Since last September, our movements have become very limited for fear of the security situation, and there are some members of the community who preferred to leave Yemen," sighed chief rabbi Yahya Youssef, sitting in his apartment within a walled compound next to ministry of defense.

    Dressed in the traditional Yemeni flowing robe, blazer and headwrap, Rabbi Yahya's lined face is framed by two long curls on each side. Along with Hebrew he and his co-religionists speak Arabic, value local customs and are wary of life beyond home.

    "We don't want to leave. If we wanted to, we would have done so a long time ago," Yahya said as his infirmed old father rested in the sun outside their home.

    Jews evacuated from the Houthi stronghold of Saada province in 2009 to the government-guarded compound have dwindled from 76 to 45. A group of 26 others live in a city north of the capital.

    Their total number is down from around 200-300 just a few years ago and now makes up a tiny fraction of Yemen's 19 million-strong population.

    Yemen's Jewish community numbered over 40,000 until 1949, when Israel organized their mass transfer to the newly-established state. Those who stayed say they had lived in peace with their neighbors in the Muslim Arab country.


    Boredom and isolation reign at the Jews' lodgings in their unlikely ghetto in a luxury enclave called "Tourist City" near the now-evacuated United States embassy.

    Cut off from the carpentry and metalworking shops that were their renowned trade for centuries, residents now subsist on small government allowances that they say barely meet their living costs.

    Young men who venture into the souk often tuck their distinctive curls up into their headwraps for fear of bullying. Boys are no longer eager to grow them in the first place.

    The local Houthi official now responsible for the surrounding neighborhood visited Rabbi Yahya on Thursday to offer reassurances, according to a Reuters correspondent who was present.

    "Jews are safe and no harm will come to them," said Abu al-Fadl, who like other leaders in the movement goes by a nom de guerre and not his given name.

    "The problem of the Houthis is not with the Jews of Yemen but with Israel, which occupies Palestine," he added.

    But memories of death threats and Houthi fighters burning down Jewish homes during the militia's decade of on-off war with the now nonexistent Sanaa government will not be soon forgotten.

    Israel-linked organizations have in the past repeatedly helped whisk Jews out of Yemen, but Israeli government spokespeople declined comment on the matter, citing reluctance to endanger Yemen's Jews by association with Israel.

    "There are certainly discussions going on over options available regarding the Yemenite Jews," said an Israeli official briefed on immigration matters.

    But these are individuals who will have to make their own individual decisions about what to do," the official added.

    Safety may not be the only concern for the deeply conservative community though, who fear life in Israel or elsewhere will be an affront to their traditional values.

    "In Israel, the girls rebel against their fathers, and we fear for our daughters. I could not accept that my daughter might come to me one day and tell me that she was married to her boyfriend," Rabbi Yahya said.

    "This is not permissible in our religion."

    (Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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