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Kuwait ‘deeply worried’ as Zionist war escalates

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep concern over the recent developments in the Red Sea and the attacks on positions in Yemen early Friday. In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry affirmed the need to safeguard security and stability in the area and protect the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. It also underlined the importance of immediately de-escalating tension to protect the maritime navigation that most countries depend on.

Meanwhile, United States carried out a fresh strike Saturday on a Houthi rebel target in Yemen, the US military said, after the Iran-backed militants warned of further attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The strike on a Houthi radar site came a day after US and British forces hit scores of targets across the country, heightening fears that Zionist war could engulf the wider region. Violence involving Iran-aligned groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria has surged since the war in Gaza began in early October.

The Houthis, who say they are acting in solidarity with Gaza, have carried out a growing number of missile and drone attacks in the key Red Sea international trade route. They say they are targeting Zionist-linked shipping. Around 12 percent of global trade normally passes through the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea entrance between southwest Yemen and Djibouti. But since mid-November the rebel attacks have affected trade flows when supply strains are already putting upward pressure on inflation globally.

The Houthi attacks have followed Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack which sparked the war still raging in the besieged Gaza Strip. US Central Command said Saturday’s strike was “a follow-on action on a specific military target” related to the previous day’s strikes. The Houthis’ official media earlier said Al-Dailami airbase in Yemen’s rebel-held capital of Sanaa had been struck in the latest bombardment.

 

HODEIDA: Yemenis ride in a fishing boat bearing the national and the Palestinian flags in the Red Sea port of Hodeida, amid continuing fighting in Gaza. US and British forces hit rebel-held targets in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, the western province of Hodeida and the northern district to Saada.- AFP

Britain, the United States and eight allies said strikes on Friday aimed to “de-escalate tensions”, but the Houthis vowed to continue their attacks. Analysts said the Western strikes are unlikely to stop the rebels. They will “diminish but not end the Houthi threat to shipping,” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Houthis withstood thousands of air raids while battling a Saudi-led coalition for more than seven years. They earlier fought six wars against Yemen’s government between 2004 and 2010. “All American-British interests have become legitimate targets” following the strikes, the rebels’ Supreme Political Council said. Hussein Al-Ezzi, the Houthis’ deputy foreign minister, said the United States and Britain would “have to prepare to pay a heavy price”.

The rebels have controlled much of Yemen since a civil war erupted in 2014 and are part of an Iran-aligned “axis of resistance” against Zionist entity and its allies. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all sides “not to escalate” in the interest of regional peace and stability, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Regional concern

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on the strikes Friday, days after adopting a resolution demanding the Houthis immediately stop their attacks on ships. At the meeting, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that no ship was safe from the Houthi threat in the Red Sea. Russian Ambassador Vassili Nebenzia denounced the “blatant armed aggression” against the entire population of the country.

Washington last month announced a maritime security initiative, Operation Prosperity Guardian, to protect maritime traffic in the area but the Houthis kept up attacks despite several warnings. With the strikes on Friday, the United States and Britain targeted nearly 30 locations using more than 150 munitions, US General Douglas Sims said, updating earlier figures. President Joe Biden said he did not believe there were civilian casualties.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the raids “led to the deaths of five martyrs” and wounded six rebels. Biden called the strikes a successful “defensive action” after the “unprecedented” Red Sea attacks and said he would act again if the Houthis continued their “outrageous behavior”. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Houthis’ breach of international law warranted the “strong signal”, which he described as “proportionate”.

But Nasser Kanani, spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, said the Western strikes would fuel “insecurity and instability in the region” while “diverting” attention from Gaza. The Houthis fired “at least one” anti-ship ballistic missile in retaliation on Friday but it caused no damage, according to Sims. Washington said it did not seek conflict with Iran, and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC there was “no reason” for an escalation.

Middle Eastern leaders voiced concern, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describing the strikes on Yemen as disproportionate and saying: “It is as if they aspire to turn the Red Sea into a bloodbath.” Saudi Arabia said it “is following with great concern the military operations” and called for “self-restraint and avoiding escalation”. The kingdom is trying to extricate itself from its nine-year war with the Houthis, though fighting has largely been on hold since a truce in early 2022.

Economic cost

Hamas said it would hold Britain and the United States “responsible for the repercussions on regional security”. However, Fabian Hinz, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, discounted the risk of escalation, “as big players like Iran are keen on avoiding a regional war.” Oil prices rose four percent Friday on fears of an escalation before falling back. Denmark’s Torm became the latest tanker firm to halt transit through the Red Sea.

Dryad Global, a maritime security risk group, advised its clients to suspend Red Sea operations for 72 hours, citing the threat of Houthi retaliation. Hundreds of thousands of people, some carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, gathered in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Friday to protest, many waving Yemeni and Palestinian flags, an AFP journalist reported. “Death to America, death to Zionists,” they chanted.

In Tehran, hundreds rallied against the United States, Britain and Zionist entity, burning the three countries’ flags outside the UK embassy while voicing support for Gazans and Yemenis, an AFP reporter saw. In Gaza City, some Palestinians lauded Houthi support and condemned Britain and the United States. “No one is standing with us but Yemen,” said Fuad Al-Ghalaini, one of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by bombardment of the besieged territory.- Agencies

RAFAH: Surrounded by family and friends, clapping and cheering, Gaza woman Afnan Jibril beams a brilliant smile on her wedding day, determined to celebrate even as war rages. “We are a people that love life, despite death, murders and destruction,” said her father, Mohamed Jibril. Relatives were gathered on Friday for the wartime wedding in a tiny room at an abandoned school building in the besieged Gaza Strip’s southern city of Rafah, near the frontier with Egypt.

The city has suffered daily bombardment, and the families of both bride and groom are among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have fled the fighting further north. “The usual preparations for marriage are not possible, and traditional ceremonies are not feasible,” said the bride’s father. “However, clothes are available, although they are scarce and expensive.”

Afnan, 17, donning a crown of flowers and pristine white dress with stark red embroidery, and her partner Mustafa Shamlakh, 26, want to make the most of their rare chance to celebrate. They dance and laugh as guests spray white mousse around the room. But eventually they have to face reality. Zionist relentless military campaign, triggered by attacks by Palestinian militants, has killed at least 23,843 people, mostly women and children, in Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The war began when militants launched an unprecedented attack on October 7. The newlyweds make up part of another grim tally – those displaced by the violence, which UN estimates put at 1.9 million Palestinians out of a total population in Gaza of 2.4 million. “The house where the groom was supposed to live was destroyed,” Ayman Shamlakh, the groom’s uncle, told AFP.

As the war went on, both families felt there was nothing to be gained from waiting and they agreed to the marriage. After the school celebration, the couple head for a ceremony set to take place in a tent. As they dive into a waiting black SUV, surrounded by a massive crowd of well-wishers, it almost looks like any other wedding day. “We are all living through the same tragedy,” said Ayman Shamlakh. “However, we must continue to live, and life should go on.”

 

 

 

AFP

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