Le Drian Urges the Lebanese to Elect a President

Le Drian during his meeting with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun (NNA)
Le Drian during his meeting with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun (NNA)
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Le Drian Urges the Lebanese to Elect a President

Le Drian during his meeting with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun (NNA)
Le Drian during his meeting with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun (NNA)

French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian has held meetings with Lebanese politicians during his fourth tour to the country despite not having any new initiative to resolve Lebanon’s political crisis.

He started his round of meetings on Wednesday with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to whom he reiterated the position of the Quintet Committee on Lebanon, which calls on the Lebanese to unify their stance and accelerate the election of a president.

During his meeting with the Army commander, General Joseph Aoun, Le Drian praised the army for dealing with the challenges facing the country, stressing France’s support for the military institution.

Aoun, for his part, expressed appreciation to Paris’ continued assistance, pointing to the recent French delivery of medical supplies.

While the French envoy did not make any statement after his meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that he reiterated the importance of electing a president and ending the presidential vacuum, without mentioning any particular candidates.

However, Le Drian stressed the need for reaching a consensus, which the opposition saw as a renewed call to go for a third option, away from the current candidate of Hezbollah, the head of Al-Marada Movement, Suleiman Franjieh, and the opposition candidate, former minister Jihad Azour.

While the French official warned of the vacuum extending to the army leadership, especially at this stage, he renewed the possibility of working to hold a consultative meeting that would include the different Lebanese components.

The sources added that Le Drian emphasized that the continued failure to elect a president would negatively affect Lebanon, especially in light of the regional developments and the post-Gaza stage.

Following his talks with the French envoy, the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, said: “Le Drian confirmed the presence of a serious danger to Lebanon and considered that the government must shoulder its responsibilities, implement Resolution 1701, withdraw the militias from the South, and go to a third option in the presidential file.”

The French official’s visit to Beirut comes hours after Mikati received a letter from French President Emmanuel Macron warning of the extension of the conflict to Lebanon, which he said would have dire consequences for the country and the people.

The French president added: “During our discussions, I emphasized to the Israeli Prime Minister the interest we have in your country and expressed my concerns about the risks of escalation and the extension of the conflict to Lebanon.”



ISIS Attack Kills One Iraqi Soldier North of Baghdad

Iraqi soldiers from the new “desert battalion” special forces stand next to military vehicles as the take part in a graduation ceremony, after months of training by the French military, at the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar west of Baghdad on February 29, 2024. (AFP)
Iraqi soldiers from the new “desert battalion” special forces stand next to military vehicles as the take part in a graduation ceremony, after months of training by the French military, at the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar west of Baghdad on February 29, 2024. (AFP)
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ISIS Attack Kills One Iraqi Soldier North of Baghdad

Iraqi soldiers from the new “desert battalion” special forces stand next to military vehicles as the take part in a graduation ceremony, after months of training by the French military, at the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar west of Baghdad on February 29, 2024. (AFP)
Iraqi soldiers from the new “desert battalion” special forces stand next to military vehicles as the take part in a graduation ceremony, after months of training by the French military, at the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar west of Baghdad on February 29, 2024. (AFP)

A roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi army patrol north of Baghdad on Friday, killing one soldier and wounding four others, the defense ministry said in a statement.

The attack took place in the town of Tarmiya, 25 km (15 miles) north of Baghdad, the ministry said.

ISIS formally claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it killed one soldier and wounded nine others, the group said in a statement.

Iraq’s Defense Minister Thabit al-Abbasi reached the area where the attack took place and ordered an investigation, the ministry's statement said.

Despite the defeat of the ISIS militant group in 2017, remnants of the group switched to hit-and-run attacks against government forces in different parts of Iraq.


Gaza Doctor Says Gunfire Accounted for 80% of Wounds at His Hospital from Aid Convoy Bloodshed

Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group. (AFP)
Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group. (AFP)
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Gaza Doctor Says Gunfire Accounted for 80% of Wounds at His Hospital from Aid Convoy Bloodshed

Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group. (AFP)
Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group. (AFP)

The head of a Gaza City hospital that treated some of those wounded in the bloodshed surrounding an aid convoy said Friday that more than 80% had been struck by gunfire, suggesting there had been heavy shooting by Israeli troops.

At least 112 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others were injured Thursday, according to health officials, when witnesses said nearby Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy.

Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a stampede linked to the chaos and that its troops fired at some in the crowd who they believed moved toward them in a threatening way.

Dr. Mohammed Salha, the acting director of Al-Awda Hospital, told The Associated Press that 176 wounded were brought to the facility, of whom 142 had suffered gunshot wounds. The other 34 showed injuries from a stampede.

He couldn't address the cause of death of those killed, because the bodies were taken to government-run hospitals to be counted. Officials at the other hospitals couldn't immediately be reached concerning the dead and other wounded.

The bloodshed underscored how chaos amid Israel's almost 5-month-old offensive has crippled the effort to bring aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, a quarter of whom the UN says face starvation.

The UN and other aid groups have been pleading for safe corridors for aid convoys, saying it has become nearly impossible to deliver supplies in most of Gaza because of the difficulty of coordinating with the Israeli military, ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of public order, including crowds of desperate people who overwhelm aid convoys.

UN officials say hunger is even worse in the north, where several hundred thousand Palestinians remain even though the area has been isolated and mostly leveled since Israeli troops launched their ground offensive there in late October.

UN agencies haven’t delivered aid to the north in more than a month because of military restrictions and lack of security, but several deliveries by other groups reached the area earlier this week.

Thursday’s convoy wasn't organized by the UN Instead, it appeared to have been monitored by the Israeli military, which said its troops were on hand to secure it to ensure it reached northern Gaza. The ensuing shooting and bloodshed raise questions over whether Israel will be able to keep order if it goes through with its postwar plans for Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put forward a plan for Israel to retain open-ended security and political control over the territory — an effective reoccupation — after Hamas is destroyed. Under the plan, Palestinians picked by Israel would administer the territory, but it's uncertain if any would cooperate.

That would leave Israeli troops, who throughout the war have responded with heavy firepower when they perceive a possible threat, to oversee the population amid what the international community says must be a massive postwar humanitarian and reconstruction operation.

Israel launched its air, sea and ground offensive in Gaza in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into Israel, in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 others. Since the assault began, Israel has barred entry of food, water, medicine and other supplies, except for a trickle of aid entering the south from Egypt at the Rafah crossing and Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing.

Despite international calls to allow in more aid, the number of supply trucks is far less than the 500 that came in daily before the war.

The Gaza Health Ministry said that the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,228, with another 71,377 wounded. The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

Thursday's bloodshed took place as a convoy of around 30 trucks entered Gaza City before dawn.

Kamel Abu Nahel, who was being treated for a gunshot wound at Shifa Hospital, said that he and others went to the distribution point in the middle of the night because they heard there would be a delivery of food.

"We’ve been eating animal feed for two months," he said.

He said that Israeli troops opened fire on the crowd as people pulled boxes of flour and canned goods off the trucks, causing the Palestinians to scatter, with some hiding under cars.

After the shooting stopped, people went back to the trucks, and the soldiers opened fire again. He was shot in the leg and fell over, and then a truck ran over his leg as it sped off, he said.

The Israeli military said that dozens of the deaths were caused by a stampede and that some people were run over by trucks as drivers tried to get away.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief military spokesperson, said that Israeli troops guarding the area fired shots "only towards a threat after the crowd moved toward them in a way that endangered them." He said the troops "didn’t open fire on those seeking aid."

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan accused Israel of targeting civilians in the tragedy. In separate statements, they called for increased safe passages for humanitarian aid. They also urged the international community to take decisive action to pressure Israel to abide by international law and to reach an agreement for an immediate ceasefire.

US President Joe Biden said that Thursday’s bloodshed could set back ceasefire efforts. The US, Egypt and Qatar have been working to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a pause in fighting and the release of some of the hostages Hamas took during its Oct. 7 attack. After a round of releases during a weeklong ceasefire in November, about 130 hostages remain captive in Gaza, though Israel says a quarter of them are believed to be dead.

Mediators hope to reach an agreement before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts around March 10. But so far, Israel and Hamas have remained far apart in public on their demands.


As Famine Looms in Gaza, the US Scrambles for Solutions

In this aerial view, Palestinians attend the Friday noon prayers in front of the ruins of the al-Faruq mosque, destroyed in Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)
In this aerial view, Palestinians attend the Friday noon prayers in front of the ruins of the al-Faruq mosque, destroyed in Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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As Famine Looms in Gaza, the US Scrambles for Solutions

In this aerial view, Palestinians attend the Friday noon prayers in front of the ruins of the al-Faruq mosque, destroyed in Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)
In this aerial view, Palestinians attend the Friday noon prayers in front of the ruins of the al-Faruq mosque, destroyed in Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)

From air drops of humanitarian aid to supply ships from Cyprus, the United States is urgently seeking ways to feed the people of Gaza as Israel resists Washington's push for more aid access and US efforts to broker a truce in the war test global patience.

With more than half a million people in the besieged enclave facing a looming famine amid Israel's military offensive, residents are desperate and aid deliveries have become chaotic and deadly.

On Thursday, over 100 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire while waiting for an aid delivery, Palestinian health officials said. Israel denied it was to blame, saying many victims were run over by aid trucks.

Under pressure at home and from allies abroad to act, the Biden administration is considering expensive proposals more often associated with natural disasters and the Cold War era.

Dropping food and supplies from planes is one option, according to US officials. France has already made several such deliveries to Gaza with Jordan and others in the region.

Another is shipping assistance by sea from Cyprus, some 210 nautical miles off Gaza's Mediterranean coast, said a US official. US officials visited Cyprus this week to examine a possible maritime aid operation, the official said.

The details of such an operation, including where in Gaza supplies could be unloaded, were not clear. The official said the administration is considering using military or commercial ships, and it would be "complex in terms of securing a landing site".

No decision has been made on military involvement in such an operation, said the official, adding the Israelis were "very receptive" to the sealift option because it would avoid delays from protesters blocking land crossings to aid convoys.

The air drop idea has drawn skepticism from some in the humanitarian community.

"It's insane that the entity necessitating this expensive workaround is not ISIS ... or the Soviets ... but a US ally fighting a war with full US backing," said Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International, referring to Israel.

"Airdrops are massively expensive and low-volume ... The fact that they need be considered is a major policy failure."

Israel says it is committed to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and accuses Hamas militants of endangering Palestinian civilians by using them as human shields.

Asked about the options being considered by the US, a spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in Washington referred to a statement on Thursday in which Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Israel was coordinating aid deliveries and wants humanitarian aid to reach the enclave's people.

"We are working around the clock to make this happen," Hagari said in the video statement. "Israel puts no limits on the amount of aid that can go into Gaza."

Unsafe for aid workers

Aid deliveries to Gaza, particularly the north, have been rare and chaotic, as increased lawlessness, looting and the breakdown of the public order following Israel's military offensive that has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians has made it extremely unsafe for aid workers to operate.

The conflict began with a Hamas attack into southern Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7 in which the militants killed 1,200 people and abducted more than 250.

Thursday's incident near Gaza City was the biggest loss of civilian lives in weeks. Hamas said it could jeopardize talks in Qatar aimed at securing a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages. Hopes had been growing of a truce before the March 10 start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The UN and relief agencies have criticized Israel for denying attempts to transfer humanitarian aid to northern parts of Gaza, restricting movement and communications.

The Biden administration says the best solution to the humanitarian crisis would be a temporary ceasefire, but as the negotiations drag on, it too is showing frustration with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At a United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday on hunger in Gaza, the United States was blunt about the responsibility of its ally.

"Simply put, Israel must do more," Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the Security Council.

Who provides security for aid shipments has emerged as a major problem. The UN does not have its own guards and Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian police who escorted aid trucks, accusing some of them of belonging to Hamas.

Without giving details, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said US officials were considering a number of aid measures. He also said Washington was talking to Israel to get a border crossing in northern Gaza opened.

Miller said there are "security and technical challenges" with opening more border crossings, but that Israel has been willing to work through them.

He said Washington had previously intervened to convince Israel to open two border crossings in the south of Gaza that it had closed. "It's not something that happened overnight," he said. "It's something we pushed for repeatedly."


Iran Revolutionary Guards Colonel Killed in Strike in Syria, State Media Says

A car is removed from the area where reported Israeli air strikes targeted a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 21, 2024. (AFP)
A car is removed from the area where reported Israeli air strikes targeted a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 21, 2024. (AFP)
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Iran Revolutionary Guards Colonel Killed in Strike in Syria, State Media Says

A car is removed from the area where reported Israeli air strikes targeted a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 21, 2024. (AFP)
A car is removed from the area where reported Israeli air strikes targeted a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 21, 2024. (AFP)

A member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards navy serving as a military adviser in Syria was killed in a suspected Israeli strike on Friday, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.

Other Iranian media reports said Colonel Reza Zarei was killed along with two fighters from Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

Zarei was killed in a strike on a building used by Iranian forces in Syria’s coastal region of Tartous, a senior security source from the alliance supporting Syria’s government told Reuters.

When asked about the strike, the Israeli military said it did not comment on foreign reports.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have scaled back deployment of their senior officers in Syria due to a spate of deadly Israeli strikes and were relying more on allied Shiite militia to preserve their sway there, Reuters reported in February.

Israel has mostly struck areas around the capital Damascus but strikes in Tartous are rare.


EU Says Will Send Funds to Gaza’s Main Aid Provider after UN Agency Agrees to an Audit

 Palestinian children gather around containers of water in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)
Palestinian children gather around containers of water in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)
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EU Says Will Send Funds to Gaza’s Main Aid Provider after UN Agency Agrees to an Audit

 Palestinian children gather around containers of water in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)
Palestinian children gather around containers of water in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)

The European Union said Friday that it will pay 50 million euros ($54 million) to the main provider of aid in Gaza next week after the cash-strapped UN agency agreed to allow EU-appointed experts to audit the way it screens staff to identify extremists.

The UNRWA agency is reeling from allegations that 12 of its 13,000 Gaza staff members participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel. The agency fired the employees, but more than a dozen countries suspended funding worth about $450 million, almost half its budget for 2024.

The Israel-Hamas war has driven 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians from their homes, and UN officials say a quarter of the population is starving. The agency is the main supplier of food, water and shelter, but it is also on the brink of financial collapse.

The European Commission had been due to disburse 82 million euros ($89 million) to UNRWA on Feb. 29, but wanted the agency to accept its terms for an audit. The EU's powerful executive branch is the third biggest donor to UNRWA after the United States and Germany.

The commission said the agency has now “indicated that it stands ready to ensure that a review of its staff is carried out to confirm they did not participate in the attacks and that further controls are put in place to mitigate such risks in the future.”

The commission said the funds will be dispatched next week once UNRWA has confirmed in writing that it accepts the EU's conditions. Two further tranches worth 16 million euros ($17.3 million) each will be given to UNRWA as it complies with their agreement.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini welcomed the EU’s announcement and said that the commitment to provide money next week “comes at a critical time.”

“The full disbursement of the EU contribution is key to the agency’s ability to maintain its operations in a very volatile area,” he tweeted.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of tolerating or even collaborating with Hamas activities in or around UN facilities, but no one — in Israel or abroad — has offered an alternative for delivering aid to Gaza’s besieged population.

UNRWA took the unusual step of immediately firing its staffers based on Israel’s allegations against them, but with no hard evidence being provided. Each year, UNRWA gives a list of its staff to the Israeli authorities for vetting, and the agency said it has received no complaints.

Two UN investigations into Israel’s allegations against the agency are already underway.

Even as the commission was negotiating the terms of its audit, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič told EU lawmakers this week that “we have not received any evidence supporting the allegations by Israel that UNWRA’s staff were involved in the terrible events on 7 October.”

“To our knowledge, none of the donors — other donors — have received any evidence,” he added.

Belgian Development Minister Caroline Gennez, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, tweeted on Friday that UNRWA “is the only organization that can structurally get humanitarian aid to Palestinians. Defunding would mean a death sentence for tens of thousands.”

The funding dispute comes a day after witnesses said that Israeli troops had fired on a crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy in Gaza City. More than 100 people were killed in the chaos. The death toll since October stands at more than 30,000, according to health officials.

The Hamas attack into Israel that ignited the war killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the militants seized around 250 hostages. Hamas and other militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of about 30 more, after releasing most other captives during a November ceasefire.


Hamas Armed Wing Says Seven Hostages Killed in Gaza

Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida. (Screengrab from al-Qassam brigades video)
Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida. (Screengrab from al-Qassam brigades video)
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Hamas Armed Wing Says Seven Hostages Killed in Gaza

Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida. (Screengrab from al-Qassam brigades video)
Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida. (Screengrab from al-Qassam brigades video)

Seven hostages who have been held in Gaza were killed as a result of the Israeli military's bombardment of the enclave, Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam brigades said on Friday.

It was not immediately clear when the seven died.

The Al-Qassam brigades confirmed that the number of hostages killed due to Israel's military operations in Gaza has now exceeded 70 captives, Abu Ubaida added in a statement on Telegram.

Israel's military campaign follows Hamas militants' killing of 1,200 people in southern Israel and the abduction of at least 250 on Oct. 7, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

During a week-long truce in late November, Hamas freed more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Israel releasing about 240 Palestinian prisoners. 


Burhan in Cairo, Hemedti in Tripoli... What Are The Goals of The Two Visits?

 Sisi and Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency)
 Sisi and Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency)
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Burhan in Cairo, Hemedti in Tripoli... What Are The Goals of The Two Visits?

 Sisi and Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency)
 Sisi and Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency)

The two parties to the Sudanese war conducted parallel visits to neighboring countries. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi received, in Cairo, on Thursday, the head of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
At the same time, the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti), met with the head of the Libyan National Unity government, Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba, in Tripoli.
The two visits come as efforts to reach a political settlement to end the war, which is close to completing its first year, continue to falter.
Al-Burhan’s visit to Cairo carries several political meanings in light of “the absence of international interest in the Sudanese crisis,” according to the Secretary of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Parliament, MP Sahar Al-Bazzar.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Bazzar said: “The issue of resuming political dialogue is at the forefront, especially since Egypt is considered a channel of communication between the Sudanese army and international parties.”
Each side of the conflict is trying to “rally regional support for its position,” according to Sudanese expert Mohammad Turshin.
“There are multiple repercussions of the war in Sudan that affect various regional parties, and therefore there is an interest in quickly resolving it, which is something that Sudanese military leaders are aware of, and are working to exploit to strengthen their positions,” he stated.
The member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Salah Halima, told Asharq Al-Awsat that regional positions have a major impact on the internal Sudanese scene.
He said: “Despite the failure of regional initiatives and moves to bring Al-Burhan and Hemedti to the negotiating table, each of them seeks to make a greater impact on the Sudanese scene, whether inside or outside the country.”
Halima added: “The faltering of the multiple initiatives for various reasons, and the failure of the actions of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)... all push towards the search for alternative paths and dialogue with both sides of the crisis.”
Expert on African affairs at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Amani Al-Taweel, said that the Cairo and Tripoli meetings pointed to some “regional interaction, and the entry of Libya, represented by the Dabaiba government, as a new party in order to help reach a settlement, as part of the new Arab endeavor in the Sudanese file.”
“The Arab efforts in recent days come as a continuation of the meeting that took place in Manama, last month, and brought together Al-Burhan’s deputy, Shams al-Din al-Kabashi, and the second commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Abdul Rahim Dagalo,” Taweel said, stressing that ending the crisis in Sudan was a priority for Egyptian foreign policy.

 

 


Houthi Leader Claims Attacks on 54 Ships, Promises More 'Surprises'

Washington and London launched more than 300 raids against the Houthis to weaken their ability to attack ships. (Reuters)
Washington and London launched more than 300 raids against the Houthis to weaken their ability to attack ships. (Reuters)
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Houthi Leader Claims Attacks on 54 Ships, Promises More 'Surprises'

Washington and London launched more than 300 raids against the Houthis to weaken their ability to attack ships. (Reuters)
Washington and London launched more than 300 raids against the Houthis to weaken their ability to attack ships. (Reuters)

The leader of the Houthi group in Yemen, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, vowed to continue naval attacks, and claimed the targeting of 54 ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, boasting that his group had launched 384 missiles and drones since November.

In remarks on Thursday, Al-Houthi promised more “surprises that the enemies will not expect,” referring to the escalation of attacks against ships in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea.

He also warned the Europeans against participating with the United States and Britain in the strikes in Yemen, and mocked Germany’s “confused involvement”, as it mistakenly fired missiles at its allies, stressing that the attacks would not stop unless aid reached the Palestinians in Gaza.

Al-Houthi’s weekly statements came in parallel with remarks by advisor to the Yemeni Defense Minister, asserting that Western strikes against the group will not be sufficient, and calling for the need to support government forces on the ground.

While the Houthi leader claimed that his group enjoys “divine support,” he reiterated that the strikes launched by Washington and London had no effect and did not limit the military capabilities of the Houthis, who receive backing from Iran.

A German frigate, active in the Red Sea as part of a European mission to protect commercial ships, almost accidentally shot down an American drone, Reuters reported, quoting German media.

The German Ministry of Defense confirmed that an accident had occurred involving an allied country’s drone, last Monday, without mentioning the name of this country.

For his part, Major General Abdul Hakim Amer, advisor to the Yemeni Minister of Defense, said that the US and British air strikes against the Houthis would not be efficient alone, stressing that the matter required a “military decision” on the ground.

During an exclusive interview with the Arab World Press television service, the Yemeni official expressed the army’s readiness to “resolve the battle” if air cover was available.

Since Jan. 12, the United States, along with Britain, began launching strikes against the Houthis, in response to their attacks on maritime ships in the Red Sea.


Sisi Meets Burhan, Affirms Egypt’s Keenness on ‘Unity of Sudanese Ranks’

Sisi receives Al-Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. (Egyptian Presidency)
Sisi receives Al-Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. (Egyptian Presidency)
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Sisi Meets Burhan, Affirms Egypt’s Keenness on ‘Unity of Sudanese Ranks’

Sisi receives Al-Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. (Egyptian Presidency)
Sisi receives Al-Burhan at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. (Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed his country’s keenness on Sudan’s security and pledged to continue providing full support to achieve political, security and economic stability.
On Thursday, Sisi received Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council, at Cairo International Airport. An official reception ceremony was held at the Al-Ittihadiya Palace, east of Cairo, during which the two national anthems were played.
Al-Burhan’s visit to Cairo comes as part of a foreign tour that started in Libya, amid a conflict that has been going on for more than 10 months between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
According to a statement by the Egyptian Presidency, Sisi affirmed that Egypt “will continue to play its role in alleviating the humanitarian effects of the conflict,” within the framework of the bilateral “historical and fraternal relations.”
According to the statement, the two officials discussed the “developments in Sudan, and the efforts aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis in a way that ensures stability, preserves the sovereignty, unity and cohesion of the Sudanese state and its institutions, and meets the aspirations of the Sudanese people...”
The official spokesman for the Egyptian presidency quoted Al-Burhan as voicing “his country’s great appreciation for Egyptian support in light of the current circumstances.”
The Sovereignty Council media platforms reported that Burhan presented during the meeting “the government’s vision for ending the war and sustaining peace and stability in the country”.
He also spoke about the violations committed by the RSF against the citizens.
The officials also discussed the latest developments in the region, including the situation in the Gaza Strip, emphasizing “the necessity of a ceasefire and the immediate implementation of humanitarian aid.”
The war broke out in Sudan in April due to disputes over the powers of the army and the Rapid Support Forces.

 

 


Yemeni Military: Iran Controls Houthi Naval Attacks

Houthi attacks threaten an environmental disaster on Yemeni shores (State TV)
Houthi attacks threaten an environmental disaster on Yemeni shores (State TV)
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Yemeni Military: Iran Controls Houthi Naval Attacks

Houthi attacks threaten an environmental disaster on Yemeni shores (State TV)
Houthi attacks threaten an environmental disaster on Yemeni shores (State TV)

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard unit is directing Houthi military operations, including attacks on Red Sea navigation, Yemeni military sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, affirming that the Houthis have used up most of their missile stockpile.
The sources, speaking under the condition of anonymity, confirm that most of the weapons currently used to target ships are from Iran, modified and assembled in Sanaa and other centers in Saada province.
Members of the Revolutionary Guard have been entering Yemen, revealed the sources, adding that some of them were smuggled across land borders into Saada province by professional smugglers.
Others arrived by sea, particularly along the coasts of Hajjah province facing the Red Sea, sources added.
The sources also affirmed that a team of members from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group oversee every aspect of the military and political activities of the Houthis.
This includes assembling missiles and drones, preparing unmanned boats and submarines, and even controlling the release of military information and videos of operations.
They also influence the content of speeches made by the Houthi leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.
The sources confirmed that the Red Sea situation is linked to military actions against Yemeni government forces and their coalition backers.
Houthi fighters, trained in Iranian Revolutionary Guard camps, have limited involvement in launching basic short-range drones. Advanced weaponry remains solely under Iranian control.
Moreover, Yemeni intelligence suggests that a key Iranian Revolutionary Guard figure, Abdul Reza Shahlai, is likely leading all Houthi military operations.
So far, US airstrikes have hit Houthi weaponry hard, especially missiles and drones, thanks to advanced surveillance tech.
To counter this, Iranian experts advised the Houthis to dig large trenches in mountainous areas overlooking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, hiding missile platforms and drones.