News Update 28 May 2015

A boy walks as he collects toys from the rubble of a house destroyed by a recent air strike in Yemen's northwestern city of Saada May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

A boy walks as he collects toys from the rubble of a house destroyed by a recent air strike in Yemen’s northwestern city of Saada May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Highlights:
Yemen faces catastrophe without vital supplies: Red Cross
Reuters — 27 May 2015
Yemen faces a humanitarian catastrophe unless the Saudi-led coalition allows it to import and distribute vital food, fuel and medicines, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday. Saudi-led forces began air strikes on Houthi forces in Yemen two months ago. They are enforcing inspections on ships entering Yemeni ports, saying they want to stop arms reaching Iran-backed Houthis. Commercial fuel tankers must have access to ports and the distribution system for fuel must function, Cedric Schweizer, outgoing head of the ICRC’s delegation in Yemen, told Reuters. Fuel is vital to run hospital generators and water pumping stations in the country of 26 million. Only 5-10 percent of usual imports has entered Yemen over the past two months of the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 people, he said. Food prices have soared.

Why Saudi Arabia’s Yemen war is not producing victory
Al-Monitor — 22 May 2015
As the war in Yemen escalates after a short humanitarian truce, the stakes are getting higher for Saudi Arabia’s princes, the region and Washington. The United Nations-hosted talks in Geneva next week are unlikely to get much traction. The Saudis gave Washington three hours’ notice of the first airstrikes. The king’s son immediately became the face of the war, appearing endlessly in the Saudi media directing operations and trying to find allies to join the campaign. The Salmans also immediately sought experienced combat-tested ground forces from Pakistan to take the war into Yemen. The Pakistanis came away from meetings in Riyadh convinced the king and his son had “panicked” and jumped into the war without a viable strategy for achieving victory; the Pakistanis refused to join the war effort and leaked their worries to the press. The young prince was portrayed as “untested” and unprepared for the job. All this from a Pakistani leader, Nawaz Sharif, who spent years in exile in the kingdom and knows the royals better than any other outsider. There are similar mutterings around the Gulf states now that the Saudi leadership is impulsive and rash.

Yemen under siege: Taiz residents slaughtered by tank shells, mortars and Saudi air strikes
International Business Times — 26 May 2015
In Ta’iz, as in Sana’a, there is a stifling lack of fuel products, power outages, and the danger of Saudi-led coalition air strikes in support of president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Yet Ta’iz has the added peril of an internal armed conflict being waged between the Houthi militias and forces loyal to former President Saleh on one side, and the so called “Popular Resistance,” made up of militias close to the al-Islah Party and forces loyal to president Hadi. The people of Ta’iz are struggling to cope as the entire surrounding area is coming under fire, from the scenic outlying villages nestled beneath the mountains to the city’s beautiful intimate alleys. The mountains that have always calmly embraced the city have become the source of sudden blasts that remind people that they are not as safe as they might think. The streets of the city and villages are now bustling with rockets, shells and bullet rounds instead of people.

Political Leadership:
Yemen may never emerge intact from civil war
Reuters via Yahoo! Maktoob — 27 May 2015
The latest conflict, now in its third month, has exacerbated long-standing grievances that are regional but also increasingly religious in a country whose unity has always been brittle. Secessionist sentiment in the south, stoked by what southerners see as decades of marginalization by the north, is deepening as result of the damage inflicted upon Aden and other southern cities in assaults by the northern Houthi militia.

Iran FM wants “all parties” in Yemen to work on resolving crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat — 27 May 2015
Hadi appointed Maj. Gen. Abduh Al-Huthaifi as the country’s new interior minister on Tuesday in place of Maj. Gen. Jalal Al-Ruwaishan. Ruwaishan’s sacking and replacement come after he continued working in his post, allegedly coordinating with the Houthis after their takeover of Sana’a in September 2014.

U.N. chief confirms delay in Yemen peace talks
Reuters — 26 May 2015
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked his special envoy to Yemen to postpone Geneva peace talks planned for May 28, though he hopes to convene negotiations aimed at ending the war as soon as possible, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The Fighting:
Air strikes kill at least 80 in deadliest bombings of Yemen war
Reuters — 27 May 2015
Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 80 people near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia and in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, residents said, the deadliest day of bombing in over two months of war in Yemen. Wednesday’s air raids on the Bakeel al-Meer area in Hajjah province across Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen killed at least 40 people, most of them civilians, local inhabitants said.

Yemen Fighters Loyal to Government Take Dhale
AP via News and World Report — 26 May 2015
Fighters backing Yemen’s exiled government captured a city on the road to the port city of Aden, officials said Tuesday, their first significant victory since a Saudi-led coalition began targeting Shiite rebels in airstrikes. The fighters took Dhale, a significant gain as the city is home to the command center of the 33rd Armored Brigade, the country’s largest army unit that had been loyal to former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh has backed the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, in their campaign across Yemen that began in September.

Houthis claim they’ve downed Saudi fighter jet
Reuters — 25 May 2015
Rebels are claiming to have shot down a Saudi Arabian fighter jet on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, a Houthi military official said, but the Yemeni Embassy in Washington denied the claim as the Saudis remained silent.nThe Houthi official said the downed jet was an F-16, and several images published online — including on the Yemen Post’s Twitter and Facebook feeds — showed a purported image of the jet ablaze along with a photo of a piece of metal with the words, “Royal Saudi Air Force.”

US:
American prisoner’s fate unknown after deadly air strikes on Yemen jail
Guardian — 27 May 2015
Fears are growing over the fate of an American citizen trapped in a Yemeni military prison after a Saudi air strike bombed the compound where his lawyers believe he is held. Since the Houthi takeover, Sharif Mobley, a 31-year-old US citizen who disappeared from his pre-trial detention in February 2014, has smuggled cellphone calls from what he described as a “military base on Hadda Street” to warn family and attorneys that his life is in extreme danger.

U.S. Citizen Stranded In Yemen Sues State Department
NPR — 26 May 2015
Several Yemeni-American men report being stranded temporarily in Yemen after the U.S. seized their passports. They say the government accused them of fraud and forced them to sign false confessions.

Germany:
German court rejects Yemen drone case
Deutsche Welle — 27 May 2015
The Cologne administrative court handed down its ruling on Wednesday: “The German government is not obliged to prevent the United States from using the airbase in Ramstein for executing drone strikes in Yemen,” presiding judge Hildegund Caspari-Wierzoch announced following a complaint filed by three Yemenis after their relatives were killed in a US drone strike in 2012.

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