Pakistan allows UAE to export 150 falcons despite ban

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan has granted a special permission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the export of 150 falcons for the personal use of its prime minister.

A letter dated Sept. 27 from the Foreign Ministry to the UAE Embassy said: "The esteemed embassy may export 150 falcons from Pakistan to the UAE for personal use of His Highness Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President/ Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai."

The request was made on July 3 but the former caretaker government of Pakistan did not entertain the export of these migratory birds, a Foreign Ministry official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The approval came after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited UAE in late September.

Local broadcaster Geo News reported the permission was granted despite a ban on the hunting of falcons, rare and migratory birds in the country.

Arab princes and their wealthy friends visit Pakistan every year to hunt houbara bustard, a rare bird, in a government initiative to promote soft diplomacy with Gulf nations, despite calls by wildlife activists against the move.

Falconry, using trained falcons to hunt wild animals for sport, is a centuries-old tradition of Arabs.


Dubai airport operating as normal after Houthi attack

By Mohammad Abdullah

ABU DHABI (AA) – The Dubai International Airport is operating as normal following an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, according to authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.

“Air traffic in the UAE is ongoing normally and naturally,” the Civil Aviation Authority said on Twitter.

Earlier Sunday, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah television said a Sammad-3 drone had carried out an attack on the Dubai airport, without giving further details.

The aviation authority, however, denied the alleged Houthi attack on the airport.

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

For 5th consecutive day, Yemen’s Aden rocked by protest

By Shukri Hussein and Mubarak Mohamed

ADEN, Yemen (AA) – Protesters on Thursday blocked roads in the southern city of Aden — Yemen's interim capital — while three cities in Hadhramaut province were also rocked by demonstrations.

For the fifth consecutive day, youths in Aden and Hadhramaut staged demonstrations against rapidly rising costs of living following a recent plunge in the value of Yemen’s currency vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar.

Witnesses said angry protesters had blocked all roads linking the province’s eight directorates, bringing traffic to a virtual standstill.

According to local residents, protesters also blocked roads leading to Aden’s Maasheeq presidential palace, prompting the deployment of UAE-backed “Security Belt” forces, which support Yemen’s pro-Saudi government.

In Hadhramaut, meanwhile, three of the province’s largest cities — Seiyun, Al-Qatn and regional capital Mukalla — all saw continued protests on Thursday.

In an effort to contain mounting popular discontent, the government earlier this week announced a 30-percent increase in public-sector salaries.

The move failed to dampen the protests, however, which erupted after a sharp drop in the value of Yemen’s rial from about 515 to the dollar last month to a current 630.

At the beginning of 2015, the rial had traded at roughly 215 to the greenback.

Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, forcing Yemen’s pro-Saudi government to take up temporary residence in Aden.

Top Middle East US general visits Abu Dhabi

ABUDHABI (AA) – The top U.S. general in the Middle East on Monday met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, state media reported.

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees U.S. troops in the region, discussed bilateral ties and cooperation in the military and defense sectors, news agency WAM said.

CENTCOM has not issued a statement on the meeting yet.

Roughly 5,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed at the UAE’s Al Dhafra Airbase, while the country also hosts U.S. troops in the Jebel Ali port which, is used by the U.S. Marines.

Turkey's Roketsan sets record with rocket artillery

By Goksel Yildirim

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s leading defense contractor has set a record with the world's largest rocket artillery, the company announced on Sunday.

Jobaria, a multiple cradle rocket launcher developed by Roketsan for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has racked up a Guinness World Record for the world's largest rocket artillery in terms of the number of barrels, the company said in a statement sent to journalists.

The system, considered the world's strongest 122-millimeter artillery rocket system, has four rocket launchers attached to a 10-wheeled semitrailer, each carrying a 122-milimeter rocket.

This artillery rocket system can fire 240 rockets at targets with a maximum range of around 37 kilometers (23 miles). The rockets can destroy an area of four square kilometers.

Last year Aselsan, Turkey's leading defense company, had revenues of $1.4 billion, up from $1.2 billion in 2016. It is active in military and civil telecommunications, radar, electronic warfare, defense, weapons, and command and control and navigation systems.

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.

UPDATE – Yemen’s Houthis propose ceasefire initiative


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.