The capital of Yemen, Sanaa is now reportedly under control of Houthi fighters, according to media citing the Interior Ministry. The Iran-backed group has allegedly retaken the city amid reports of the death of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh, who formally renounced his alliance with the Houthis on Sunday, was killed while trying to flee the capital, according to the Houthi-controlled ministry. It said their former ally “was creating chaos by working with militias of aggression” in the country, and “helping extremist militants.”
Having accused the former leader of betrayal and inciting even more violence in Yemen, the ministry said the Houthi forces have “ended the crisis” and now control “all positions” of opposing militias. There have been reports that the eldest son of the ex-president Ahmad Saleh, regarded as his likely successor, has been arrested.
Heavy fighting has been ongoing in Sanaa in recent days, with the Saudi-led coalition launching strikes on Houthi positions and having bombed Sanaa’s airport. The strikes come amid reports of extreme bloodshed in Yemen’s capital after ex-president Saleh pulled out of an alliance with the Houthi rebels.
Rubble and debris can be seen in a Ruptly video documenting the aftermath of the Saudi-led coalition’s attack on Sanaa International Airport on Sunday evening. The footage shows pulverized concrete, burnt-out cars and the airport’s abandoned VIP lounge. rt.com
In a not wholly unexpected twist to Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni’s surprise resignation on TV last night, the government spokesman that it was simply an offer to resign.
Hatem Oraibi said there had been no official resignation. All that had happened is that, while defending his position in tough questioning from interviewer Mohamed Zeidan of Libya’s Channel TV, Thinni had said that he could resign and that Libyans could find someone else who had a magic wand to solve all their problems.
Thinni had threatened to resign before and has told several people in private that he is exhausted with the job. libyaherald.com
Abdullah Abdullah, who finished second in Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election, is confident he can win enough ballots on April 5 to avoid a runoff and sign a deal “within a month” to keep U.S. troops in the country. “God willing, we will have an election which will purely reflect the outcome of Afghans votes and it won’t go to the second round,” Abdullah, 53, said in an interview on March 28 during a campaign stop in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when asked about his chances. “I’m not that much concerned about other candidates.” Abdullah is one of several leading contenders to succeed President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign an agreement to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond this year. The Taliban, which lost power after the U.S. invasion in 2001, has sought to disrupt the vote with attacks on police outposts, election offices and establishments frequented by foreigners. timesherald.com
As Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a veteran of the jihad against Soviet occupation and a hardline Islamist once close to al-Qaeda, steps to the microphone through a phalanx of armed guard the crowd of 5000 takes up a familiar cry. One man raises his fist and shouts: “Death to America, death to England.” Hundreds of hands are thrust into the air as the response echoes around the rally in Parwan province, all captured on video. “Death, death, death,” they shout. Sayyaf is the man who invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan. “He will not win but he will be one of the next on the list,” he said. Although unlikely to win he would garner decisive votes to put behind one of the two candidates that make it to a run-off, according to Fabrizio Foschini, of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. “That means his part in a run-off will be very important.” telegraph.co.uk
President Barack Obama sought to reassure Saudi King Abdullah on Friday that he would support moderate Syrian rebels and reject a bad nuclear deal with Iran, during a visit designed to allay the kingdom’s concerns that its decades-old U.S. alliance had frayed.
Flying by helicopter to the king’s desert camp, Obama underscored the importance of Washington’s relationship with the world’s largest oil exporter in a two-hour meeting that focused on the Middle East but did not touch on energy or human rights.
Last year senior Saudi officials warned of a “major shift” away from the United States after bitter disagreements over its response to the “Arab spring” uprisings, efforts to negotiate with Iran, and Washington’s decision not to intervene militarily in Syria, where Riyadh wants more American support for rebels.
While the two leaders discussed “tactical differences”, they both agreed their strategic interests were aligned, a U.S. official told reporters after the meeting. reuters.com
The senior commander of an Al-Qaeda-linked group believed to be behind a Beirut bomb blast that killed 23 people in November has died just days after he was arrested by the Lebanese army.
Lebanese army and judicial sources said Majid al-Majid, a Saudi citizen who was the senior leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, died on Saturday after suffering kidney failure.
Majid, suspected over a series for attacks across the Middle East before focusing on Syria, was held at an undisclosed place in Lebanon. He was one of the 85 most-wanted individuals in his native Saudi Arabia.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed it carried out the November 19 twin suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut. In tweets at the time of the bombing, the group threatened more attacks in Lebanon unless Iran pulled its forces out of Syria.
Last year Abdullah Azzam Brigades, named after an associate of the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, were formally designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. aljazeera.com
One thing is for sure about the death of al-Qaeda commander Majed al-Majed in a Beirut hospital this weekend – Western and Saudi intelligence will be relieved at his demise.
Dead men don’t talk, as they say, and that fact may spare the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia from incriminating disclosures that could have surfaced if he had stayed alive – disclosures that would expose their collusion in terrorist violence raging across the Middle East.
Inevitably, there will be suspicions that al-Majed – a Saudi national – was killed while in Lebanese custody. He was arrested by Lebanese intelligence personnel reportedly in the southern port city of Sidon only days before his death was announced on Saturday. During his brief period in custody he was undergoing questioning while suffering from chronic kidney disease. presstv.ir
The leader of an al Qaeda-linked group which claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing at the Iranian embassy in Beirut has been arrested, according to authorities in Lebanon.
Majid al Majid, the ’emir’ of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, was detained by the intelligence services and was currently being interrogated at a secret location, Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn said.
The Sunni Muslim extremist group said it had carried out the bomb attack in November, which killed 25 people, in retaliation for Iran’s support of the militant Hizbollah group, which is a main ally of President Bashar al Assad in neighbouring Syria’s civil war.
The Saudis are not happy that the infidel American mercenaries have yet to be deployed in Syria. The House of Saud has gotten used to assuming that the United States will jump when their fattest member tells them to.
Unfortunately for the Saudis, their buddy Barack got a case of cold feet about bombing Syria when the UK pulled out and the American public appeared to be slightly more enthusiastic about naming Somalia the 51st state than invading yet another country for the Saudis.
And the Saudis, the guardians of Mecca and Medina, keepers of the keys to American foreign policy and protectors of the oil embargo, responded with all the grace and dignity you would expect.
A surprising alliance is forming in the Middle East – between Israel and Saudi Arabia, as reports say the countries are negotiating a union, against Iran. Despite sharing common rivals, there’s no official diplomatic relations between the states, and the two clash when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s support of the Palestinians.
Israel is negotiating an unlikely diplomatic alliance with several Gulf and Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, to tackle Iran’s nuclear programme, Israeli media has reported.
High-profile Israeli and Gulf diplomats held a series of meetings overseen by Benjamin Netanyahu in the weeks leading to his speech to the UN General Assembly, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Channel 2 said a “high ranking official” even came secretly to Israel to address growing concerns on Tehran’s nuclear program, following US President Barack Obama’s decision to open a dialogue with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani.
Israel officially has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and any of the Arab states in the Gulf.
“The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbours to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy,” Netanyahu told the UN this week.
“And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.
“Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future,” Netanyahu added.
The rise of sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims across the Middle East has worsened diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.