Saudi warplanes kill Yemeni civilians, and now ground troops’ invasion?


This video, from South Korean Arirang TV, says about itself:

Concern grows as Saudi Arabia,allies bomb Yemen

26 March 2015

Civilians in Yemen were seen picking up the pieces and surveying the damage… when dawn broke following a surprise night-time air assault led by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Reports say at least 18 civilian, including six children, were killed in the military operation that was to target the Houthi rebels …

Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in a televised speech called the campaign ″criminal, unjust, brutal and sinful″ … and promised to fight back.

By Niles Williamson:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt prepare US-backed invasion of Yemen

27 March 2015

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are preparing a US-backed military invasion of Yemen aimed at pushing back the Houthi militia that has taken over much of the country and reasserting the control of besieged President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Egyptian officials told the Associated Press that the three-pronged assault would come from Saudi Arabia in the north and from the Red Sea in the west and the Arabian Sea in the south. As many as five Egyptian troop ships have been stationed off the coast of Yemen. The officials said that the assault would begin after airstrikes had sufficiently weakened the Houthi rebels.

The developing assault on the Yemen, code named Operation Decisive Storm, is drawing on air support and ground troops from a coalition of majority Sunni Muslim countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to suppress the Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi Shiite branch of Islam and have been backed by predominantly Shiite Iran.

The Saudi television channel Al Arabiya announced on Thursday that, in addition to at least 150,000 Saudi soldiers, military forces from Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Sudan were preparing [to] take part in the ground invasion. Saudi Arabia has already begun massing soldiers and heavy artillery on its southern border with Yemen.

The imminent intervention of ground forces drawn from countries throughout the region will transform the civil war into a region-wide openly sectarian war pitting forces aligned with the Saudi Sunni monarchy against forces associated with the Shiite-dominated government of Iran.

Sudan’s defense minister Abdel Raheem Mohammed Hussein reported Thursday that his country would contribute fighter jets in addition to ground troops which were already in route to the region. The Egyptian government has dispatched four warships to the Red Sea in order to patrol the Gulf of Aden and blockade Houthi supply lines.

Washington was quick to declare its support for the airstrikes and impending invasion. Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, released a statement Wednesday condemning the Houthis and making it clear that the Obama administration backed the Saudi-led assault. According to Meehan, the US was “establishing a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support,” to assist military operations in Yemen.

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Thursday to the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council states and reiterated the Obama administration’s support for the assault on the Houthi rebels. A State Department official told Reuters that Kerry “commended the work of the coalition taking military action against the Houthis and noted the United States’ support for those coalition efforts–including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets.”

Speaking at a US Senate hearing Thursday, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, stated that the US military would ensure that the shipping lanes through the strategic straits of Mandeb and Hormuz remained open during the conflict. “It is one of our core interests to ensure that we have free flow of commerce through both straits,” he told the assembled Senators. Two US warships, the USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry, have been positioned in the Red Sea just off Yemen’s coast.

US special operations troops were compelled to evacuate Yemen last week in the face of the Houthi offensive, reportedly leaving behind intelligence files that have fallen into the hands of the militia.

While the French and British governments have also provided support for the airstrikes, the European Union’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, released a statement yesterday cautioning against a military assault. “I’m convinced that military action is not a solution,” Mogherini stated. “At this critical juncture all regional actors should act responsibly and constructively, to create as a matter of urgency the conditions for a return to negotiations.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a statement to reporters opposing the Saudi-led operation. “Military action from outside of Yemen against its territorial integrity and its people will have no other result than more bloodshed and more deaths.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham released a statement Thursday calling for an end to military operations. “Iran wants an immediate halt to all military aggressions and air strikes against Yemen and its people,” Afkham said. She warned that military operations in Yemen would “further complicate the situation” and “hinder efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful ways.”

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel Al Jubeir, speaking from the country’s embassy in Washington, announced the opening of military operations late Wednesday night with jets from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain participating in airstrikes.

Bombs were dropped on locations throughout Yemen. According to local health officials more than 25 people were killed and another 40 injured in airstrikes on the capital of Sanaa. Reports indicated that many of the casualties were civilians.

Among the reported targets were the Houthis’ home territory in the northern province of Saada, the Al Dailami air base, the international airport in Sanaa and the Al Adnan airbase north of the southern port city of Aden, a former base for US and European special operations soldiers. …

Hadi was forced to announce his resignation and placed under house arrest in January by Shiite Houthi militia after a month’s long occupation of Sanaa. Hadi escaped captivity in February and fled to the southern port city Aden where he was working to marshal support for an assault on the Houthis. On Thursday officials in Saudi Arabia reported that Hadi had fled Yemen and was in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Irish teenager’s death penalty in Egypt for attending pro-democracy rally?


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Free Ibrahim Halawa

10 December 2014

Ibrahim Halawa is an Irish citizen who has been imprisoned in Egypt for over a year. He is a prisoner of conscience and Amnesty are calling for his immediate release.

Sign the petition here.

On Saturday the 13/12/14, Ibrahim’s birthday, join us as we protest outside the Egyptian embassy and call for Ibrahim’s release!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ibrahim Halawa: Irish teenager faces execution in Egypt after attending pro-democracy rally

He is one [of] 493 detainees charged collectively

Cahal Milmo

Monday 02 March 2015

An Irish teenager held in Egypt for nearly two years after he attended a pro-democracy protest has been moved to a purpose-built prison where he faces a mass trial and possible execution, campaigners have warned.

Ibrahim Halawa was just 17 when he was arrested with his three older sisters after they sought shelter in a Cairo mosque during the demonstration in August 2013.

Although his siblings were released, Ibrahim was placed in adult custody, suffered alleged beatings and had medical treatment withheld for a bullet wound to a hand which is now permanently disfigured. He is one 493 detainees charged collectively with causing deaths and criminal damage.

Legal charity Reprieve said the Irishman, who had been in Egypt to visit relatives, had recently been moved out of Cairo’s notorious Tora prison, where he shared a cell with Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste until the Australian’s release last month.

Mr Halawa is now being held at Wadi el Natrun between Cairo and Alexandria in a jail complex specially built for mass trials.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “Before this farce of a trial resumes, and Ibrahim’s life is put at risk, the Irish government and the EU must do all they can to ensure his return to his family in Dublin.”

With Saturday’s execution of an Islamist defendant, the first state killing of the hundreds of people sentenced to death in mass show trials following the July 2013 military coup, the US-backed Egyptian junta is stepping up its campaign of police-state terror against the people: here.

Report thy neighbour: policing Sisi’s Egypt. A regime bereft of legitimacy, save for its promise to guarantee national security, turns citizens into active players in a new culture of surveillance and reporting: here.

Egyptian pro-democracy blogger jailed


This 21 April 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Exclusive Egyptian Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on Prison, Regime’s War on a Whole Generation 1/3.

And these videos are the sequels.

When the Egyptian military dictatorship are not busy killing women for laying flowers in commemoration of anti-Mubarak dictatorship people killed in 2011; and are not busy killing civilians in Libya; and are not busy being friends with Tony Blair; then they do other things.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Outspoken activist jailed for five years

Tuesday 24th February 2015

WELL-KNOWN Egyptian activist and outspoken blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison in a retrial yesterday, reducing his earlier 15-year tariff.

Mr Abdel-Fattah, who came to prominence during the 2011 national uprising against the Mubarak dictatorship, had been charged with organising an unauthorised protest and assaulting a police officer.

The verdict was condemned by defence lawyers and supporters who said that he should have been set free.

The retrial began in October and involved 25 defendants, five of whom are fugitives. Besides Mr Abdel-Fattah, only one other defendant, Ahmed Adel-Rahman, received a five-year prison sentence. The rest were sentenced to three years.

Judge Hassan Farid also ruled that all the defendants be placed under surveillance for a period similar to their prison terms after their release, requiring them to report daily to the police.

The courtroom erupted after the verdict, with relatives and friends in the gallery shouting: “Down with oppression!”

Police ultimately ordered everyone to clear the courtroom.

Defence lawyer Mohammed Abdel-Aziz decried the verdict as “harsh and oppressive,” saying that the court “didn’t take into consideration any of the evidence that showed the defendants’ innocence.”

Human-rights lawyer Taher Abou el-Nasr commented: “Regrettably, the verdict was expected. We no longer expect acquittals.”

Defence lawyers said that they will take an appeal to the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court.

In a brief address before he delivered the verdict, Judge Farid insisted that the ruling was “free of any interference or caprices.”

Save British seagrass meadows


This video from the Red Sea in Egypt is called Green seahorse in sea grass.

From Wildlife Extra:

Government urged to consider important UK seagrass areas

A newly formed NGO has responded in the consultation process to establish the next tranche of Marina Conservation Zones (MCZs).

Project Seagrass is comprised of internationally recognised experts in seagrass ecology and management.

There is an expanding body of literature illustrating how UK seagrass meadows play a significant role in supporting coastal biodiversity and fisheries productivity.

Seagrass meadows cycle nutrients, provide nursery habitat for young fish, are key foraging grounds for adult fish, prevent beach erosion, support human wellbeing, and harbour culturally significant species, such as seahorses.

Fish growing up in a seagrass meadow will have higher chances of reaching maturity and spawning a new generation than those in an alternative low quality nursery habitat such as bare sand.

However, the group says that UK seagrass meadows are under extreme pressure.

As primary producers living in sheltered coastal waters they are subjected to the problems associated with poor water quality and limited catchment management.

Anything that reduces light availability within the water column will result in stress to these plants.

This is compounded by other physical stressors such as anchor and mooring damage, destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, raking and bait digging, and coastal development eroding the long-term resilience of the seagrass systems.

Project Seagrass maintains that providing appropriate and widespread protection for these habitats has never been more urgent.

In a 2013 Swansea University survey throughout the British Isles only two important seagrass sites were found not to have been impacted by poor water quality.

Additional studies utilising GoogleEarth and site visits have revealed the extent of the threats imposed by the impact of inappropriate mooring damage on seagrass meadows throughout the UK.

Examples of the degradation that current mooring practice causes can be seen at Studland Bay, Poole Harbour, Salcombe and around the Isle of Wight.

In the new round of proposed MCZs, the seagrass meadows at Nettle and Mount Bay are included but, the group says, neither is extensive nor particularly threatened.

Adding protection to both of these sites may help in the long-term but is unlikely to have any immediate effect on their management or conservation; effectively these sites are ‘easy wins’ for MCZ creation as neither spots have particular value for alternative uses.

By contrast, seagrass meadows surrounding the North and East of the Isle of Wight and throughout the Solent are under extreme pressure, says the Project, and these have not been included.

The pressure is due to the cumulative impacts of poor water quality, boat use (anchor and mooring damage) and destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, raking, bait digging).

In addition, seagrass meadows in many other areas of the south English coast, for example Studland Bay, are also under pressure from boat use (moorings and anchors) and, again, not included in the current MCZ proposals.

Project Seagrass says there exists sufficient scientific evidence for the long term protection of all seagrass meadows in the UK.

It has requested as part of its submission that DEFRA reconsider its exclusion of Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes from the 2nd tranche of MCZs.

Meadows in need of immediate action such as Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes must be included as MCZs, it says.

For more information visit www.projectseagrass.org.