Monday, 23rd March 2015
YEMEN – In Yemen, the powerful rebel group known as the Houthis say they have mobilised their forces in the country to step up the fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants. The United Nations envoy to Yemen has warned that the country could slide into prolonged conflict like Iraq, Syria or Libya. He warned of the danger that neither Houthi rebels nor Yemen’s ousted president would be able to assert control. (BBCNews)

LIBYA – Stakeholders must work together to take Libya out of its “mess of a war” and begin rebuilding the conflict-ridden country into a modern, democratic state, a senior United Nations official said. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Léon, said that the time had come to transition from aspirations for a peaceful Libya to “real achievements,” adding that the international community was prepared to help Libyans with humanitarian assistance. (UNNewsCenter)

GERMANY – Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras said that Greece wants “to respect the treaties” it has made with the European Union (EU) but changes must be made to ensure social justice. “Greece needs a policy mix to overcome the negative situation” created by harsh, painful conditions imposed in exchange for an earlier bailout, said Tsipras. Merkel said that Germany “wants Greece to be strong economically, to grow and to be out of high unemployment”. Tsipras came to Berlin to outline for the German government Greece’s reform plans aimed at unlocking about 240 billion euros for his struggling country. (ANSAmed)

FRANCE – Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP and its allies edged out the National Front to place first in local polls on Sunday, with President François Hollande’s Socialists – beset by economic woes and record unemployment – coming in third. The result is a setback for National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who had hoped her resurgent anti-immigrant, anti-EU party would emerge on top in the first round, making her a serious presidential contender for 2017. (France24)

Thursday, 24th March 2015

SIRYA – At least 400 children and teens under 18 have been recruited since the start of 2015 in Syria by ISIS, which has opened for this purpose special offices for the “lion cubs of the Caliphate” (Ashbal al Khilafah), UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. Some of the minors are reportedly recruited as they watch public executions. Jihadists promise them money, weapons and cars in order to attract them within the group. (ANSAmed)

ISRAEL – After years of relative calm, risks are growing that violence may break out in the West Bank again. Local media say that this warning was sent by Israeli military leaders to a government that seems to have shelved all talks with Palestinian Authority leaders. Military analysts say that frustration is growing ever higher among the Palestinian population, in part due to the lack of long-term political prospects. The Israeli domestic secret services, Shin Bet, are also becoming ever more concerned about extremist Jewish settler activities and possible terrorist acts by them. (ANSAmed)

SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen, US officials have said, raising the risk that the Middle East’s top oil power will be drawn into the worsening conflict. (TheGuardian)

 

Wednesday, 25th March 2015

TUNISIA – Tunisian authorities have arrested the leader of the terrorist cell responsible for the March 18 attack at the Bardo Museum, Rafik Chelli, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister. According to Chelli, the group that carried out the plan was made up of 16 people, including at least two Tunisians who returned home from fighting alongside jihadists in Syrian territories. A third attacker is still at large. Maher bin Al-Moulidi Al-Qaidi is the subject of an arrest warrant by Tunisia’s Interior Ministry. (ANSAmed)

SYRIA – Syrian rebels including Islamist groups on Wednesday took over an ancient town near the Jordanian border after four days of fighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported. Busra Al-Sham is a Roman-era city recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its archeological remains. (ANSAmed)

YEMEN – Saudi Arabia began its military intervention in Yemen. Nine countries have said they are participating in the intervention, including five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and Sudan. The United States is not participating in “direct military action,” according to a statement by the National Security Council, but is assisting with “logistical and intelligence support.” According to Saudi reports, the Kingdom has mobilized 100 fighter jets and 150,000 soldiers for the intervention, though there have been no reports of Saudi ground forces in Yemen yet. (ForeignPolicy)

JORDAN – Jordanian air force fighter jets are participating in the Saudi-led operation with its Arab allies against Houthi fighters in Yemen, a Jordanian official source said on Thursday. “This is in line with supporting legitimacy in Yemen and its security and stability. Yemen and the Gulf’s security is a high strategic interest (for Jordan)”, an official Jordanian source told Reuters. (Reuters)

 

Tuesday, 26th March

YEMEN – Saudi air force took control of the Yemeni airspace at dawn, Al Arabiya television said. Egypt has announced its full political and “military” support to the Arab coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Foreign Ministry in Cairo said in statement. “Coordination with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries is underway for the participation of an air, naval and ground force to the coalition,” the statement said. (ANSAmed)

SAUDI ARABIA – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called for an “immediate cessation of military activities” in Yemen in phone conversations with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim Houthi militias have seized large parts of Yemen. The conflict deepened on Thursday when warplanes from Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia attacked Houthi positions in Yemen, drawing protests from Tehran. (Reuters)

TURKEY – “The European Union can not afford to say no to Turkey. The consequences would be negative for Europe, certainly not for us”, European Union Affairs Minister and Chief Negotiator to Turkey Volkan Bozkir said at a International Affairs meeting in Rome on Thursday. (ANSAmed)

 

Friday, 27th March

YEMEN – New air raids were carried out in the night between Thursday and Friday on Sanaa and two other Yemeni provinces against positions held by Shiite Houthi rebels by the Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries. Amnesty International reported that 25 people – including six children under 10 years of age – were killed in the first day of raids Thursday. (ANSAmed)

SYRIA – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is open to dialogue with the United States, the leader said in an interview with U.S. television network CBS Thursday. Assad said such dialogue would need to be based on “mutual respect,” but that so far there has been no contact from the Americans. (Alarabiya)