Abu Dhabi crown prince arrives in Cairo for talks

By Hussein Elkabany

CAIRO (AA) – Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for an unannounced visit.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received bin Zayed at Cairo International Airport amid tight security.

Bassem Radi, a spokesman for Egypt’s presidency, told local media that the two leaders planned to discuss “means of strengthening bilateral relations and recent regional developments”.

The United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi serves as capital, has been a primary supporter of Egypt’s al-Sisi regime, which came to power on the back of a 2013 military coup.

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UPDATE – Yemen’s Houthis propose ceasefire initiative

ADDS NEW TWEET FROM HOUTHI OFFICIAL

By Mohamed al-Samei and Murad al-Arifi

SANAA (AA) – A leader of Yemen’s Houthi rebel group on Tuesday unveiled an initiative aimed at halting all military activity in the war-weary country.

In a post on Twitter, Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, head of the group’s so-called Supreme Revolutionary Commission, reiterated calls for a “political solution” to the almost four-year-old conflict.

“Our initiative would include instructions from Yemeni official parties [in reference to Houthi institutions] to halt all military and naval operations for a specified, renewable period,” he said.

Al-Houthi voiced hope that a Saudi-led military coalition — cobbled together in 2015 to fight the rebel group — would reciprocate “if they really want peace for the Yemeni people”.

Early Wednesday, al-Houthi tweeted again, saying they have halted naval operations for two weeks.

"The unilateral ceasefire that has started tonight at 00.00 (2100GMT) will continue until Aug. 15 at 00.00 (2100GMT). However, if there is a positive response from coalition forces, this period can be extended," he said.

The Yemeni government, which is currently headquartered in the coastal city of Aden and which is closely supported by the Saudi-led coalition, has yet to issue a formal response to the proposal.

The government, however, has previously said it would not negotiate with the rebel group until the latter surrendered the strategic Red Sea port of Al-Hudaydah.

While the Houthis have rejected the notion of a unilateral withdrawal from Al-Hudaydah, they have nevertheless voiced their readiness to accept a supervisory role by the UN over the seaport.

Earlier this month, UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths proposed a plan by which the Houthis would pull out of Al-Hudaydah, after which Yemeni police and UN observers would fill the vacuum.

In June, Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched a wide-ranging operation aimed at retaking Al-Hudaydah and its strategic seaport from the rebels.

But the United Arab Emirates, a leading member of the coalition, later announced a pause in the operation in hopes of persuading the Houthis to voluntarily leave the coastal province.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when the Shia Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, forcing the country’s pro-Saudi government to take up residence in Aden.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

UAE slams Houthi attack in Red Sea as ‘terrorist act’

ABU DHABI (AA) – United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash on Thursday described the alleged targeting of a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthi militia as a “terrorist act”.

On Wednesday, a Saudi-led military coalition accused the Houthis of attacking and “slightly damaging” the vessel.

The coalition refrained, however, from stating exactly where the attack took place.

Shortly afterward, Yemen’s Houthi-run Al-Masirah television channel appeared to confirm the attack, but said Houthi forces had attacked a Saudi “warship” off Yemen’s western coast.

In a Thursday tweet, Gargash said the attack — which he insisted had targeted an oil tanker — had confirmed the need to capture Yemen’s strategic Al-Hudayda seaport from the Houthis.

The UAE is a leading member of the Saudi-led coalition, which was cobbled together in 2015 to fight the Houthis.

Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country.

The conflict escalated the following year when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Shia Houthis of serving as an Iranian proxy force — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

NGO calls for probe on alleged UAE war crimes in Yemen

By Mahmut Geldi

MARIB, Yemen (AA) – Human right watchdog Amnesty International called for an investigation into alleged tortures, disappearances and ill treatment in detention facilities in Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and affiliate militia groups.

"Justice remains elusive a year after a network of secret prisons was first exposed in southern Yemen," said the report called "God only knows if he's alive".

The Amnesty reports raised concerns over the children of detainees who are subjected to torture from UAE-backed militias.

Of 51 detainees who were reportedly abducted and tortured between March 2016 and May 2018, 19 remain unaccounted for.

"It is a small sample of a wider pattern of detention-related
abuses in an environment of impunity and barriers to justice," said the report.

“Yemen and UAE should taking actions put an immediate end to these violations, and provide informations for those scattered families,” said Tirana Hassan Amnesty’s Director of Crisis Response.

Previously, Yemeni officials have asked UAE to shut down illegal detention facilities and hand over detainees to Yemeni government judicial authorities.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva reported ill treatment, torture and sexual abuse against Yemeni detainees by UAE soldiers.

The UAE is a major member of the Saudi-led coalition that has launched a massive air campaign in 2015 against Houthi rebels, who overran much of Yemen, including capital Sanaa.

NGOs criticize UAE over human rights abuses

By Bayram Altug

GENEVA (AA) – Human rights NGOs gathered on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in Geneva called for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to comply with international standards with regards to human rights.

During a session at the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, human rights watchdogs expressed concern about severe human rights abuses such as systematic toture, arbitrary detentions in UAE.

Julia Legner, an international legal expert who works for Geneva-based Alkamara NGO said the torture and arbitrary arrests were still going on in the UAE.

“We are continuously concerned about human rights abuse in UAE,” she said and asserted that the local authorities have been hampering the investigations.

On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Office reported that a number of Yemeni detainees were subjected to ill-treatment, torture and sexual abuse by UAE soldiers.

Saudi-led coalition pauses Hudaydah campaign in Yemen

By Mohamed Fahd and Mohamed al-Samei

SANAA (AA) – The Saudi-led coalition has temporarily halted a military offensive in Yemen’s coastal Al-Hudaydah province, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said Sunday.

Writing on Twitter, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the move aims to achieve an “unconditional withdrawal” of Houthi rebels from the province.

“We welcome efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Al-Hudaydah city and port,” he tweeted.

“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed,” he said.

Gargash said military operations in Al-Hudaydah have been halted on June 23 for a week, but without elaborating.

The UAE minister said the coalition offensive in Al-Hudaydah has succeeded so far in “liberating the airport and forcing the Houthis to make concessions”.

Earlier this week, the UN envoy unveiled a proposal made by the Shia Houthi group to place Al-Hudaydah seaport under UN supervision — a proposal, he said, to which the Aden-based Yemeni government has also agreed.

On Thursday, Griffiths wrapped up a regional tour during which he met with Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Aden and chief Houthi negotiator Mohamed Abdel Salam in Muscat.

On June 13, Yemeni government forces — backed by the Saudi-led military coalition — waged a wide-ranging operation to retake Al-Hudaydah and its strategic seaport from Houthi rebels.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Shia Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

Trump wants Qatar-Gulf row to end as it 'benefits Iran'

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump wants the dispute between Qatar and Gulf nations to be resolved, as it only “benefits Iran”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

Pompeo spoke at a meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Washington, thanking Al Thani for Qatar’s "strategic partnership and friendship" with the U.S., State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press statement.

Emphasizing Qatar’s efforts on counterterrorism and countering terrorism financing, Nauert said the top diplomat also discussed a range of regional and bilateral topics with his Qatari counterpart.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic and trade ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

The four states have threatened Qatar with additional sanctions if it fails to meet a list of demands, including one for the closure of broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Qatar, however, has refused to comply, denying the accusations against it and describing the Saudi-led embargo as a “breach of its national sovereignty”.

The crisis is unprecedented in inter-Arab relations and has resulted in the four countries imposing a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar.

Pro-UAE forces detain journalist in Yemen

ADEN, Yemen (AA) – A journalist and his sibling have been held by pro-U.A.E. forces in Yemen's southern city of Lahij, according to the National Organization of Yemeni Journalists (SADA) Wednesday.

In a statement, SADA said journalist Radad es-Selami and his brother were taken into custody by a pro-UAE force called "Security Belt" a week ago, then brought to the 5th Brigade camp.

The reason for his detention remains unknown.

The statement called for an end to the systematic pressure tactics against the media.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait failed to end the destructive conflict.

The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

In addition, Yemeni government forces on Tuesday –backed by the Saudi-led coalition– captured critical Al-Hudaydah airport after deadly clashes with Houthi rebels.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story in Ankara

French troops in Yemen alongside UAE forces: Le Figaro

By Rasha Khalaf

PARIS (AA) – French Special Forces are on the ground in Yemen actively fighting Shia Houthi rebels, French daily Le Figaro reported on Saturday.

Le Figaro quoted unnamed military sources as saying that French Special Forces were fighting in Yemen alongside troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The newspaper did not provide any additional details.

The French authorities, meanwhile, have yet to comment on the report.

On Friday, the French Defense Ministry said it was considering taking part in mine-sweeping operations to facilitate access to Yemen’s strategic Al-Hudeidah seaport, which Yemeni government forces — with the help of a Saudi-led military coalition — are now trying to wrest from the Houthis.

The ministry stressed, however, that French forces were not currently taking part in the ongoing military operations in Al-Hudeidah.

On Wednesday, Yemeni forces and the Saudi-led coalition launched a major operation aimed at retaking Al-Hudeidah — and its strategic seaport — from the Houthis, who captured it in 2014.

Yemen’s internationally-recognized government (currently based in the port city of Aden) and its Saudi-led allies accuse the Houthis of using the port to import weapons from Iran.

Last week, the UN warned that a major military assault on Al-Hudeidah by the Saudi-led coalition could adversely affect as many as 250,000 people.

“Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply worried by the likely impact of a possible military assault on… Al-Hudeidah,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a statement released last Friday.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — including the UAE — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait failed to end the destructive conflict.

The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

UN Security Council calls for Yemen port to remain open

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON (AA) – The UN Security Council on Thursday demanded an urgent halt to a Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led offensive in the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, calling for the port to be kept open for humanitarian assistance.

The emergency closed-door meeting, requested by the UK, convened Thursday afternoon and marked the second time this week the council has met over what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia, who is also President of the Security Council for the month of June, said the council is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Nebenzia also emphasized the council's demand that the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition keep Hudaydah port open because of its vital role in providing humanitarian aid to Yemeni civilians.

Sweden's deputy envoy to the UN Carl Skau also urged an immediate halt to the bombardment of the key port to prevent a major humanitarian disaster from unfolding.

The Saudi-led coalition forces on Wednesday launched a major military operation to recapture Hudaydah port from Shia Houthi rebels.

Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by conflict since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of “the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times”.