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Fighting and air strikes across Yemen; dialogue remains distant

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Fighting and air strikes across Yemen; dialogue remains distant
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Yemeni fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi clashed with Iranian-allied Houthi fighters on Sunday in Aden, the absent leader’s last major foothold in the country.

Hadi loyalists in the southern port city reported a gunbattle in the central Crater district in which three people were killed, and said they recaptured the airport, which has changed hands several times in recent days.

The Health Ministry, loyal to the Houthi fighters who control the capital, said Saudi-led air strikes had killed 35 people and wounded 88 overnight. The figures could not be independently confirmed.

The Houthi fighters, representing a Shi’ite minority that makes up around a third of Yemen’s population, emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country last year when they captured the capital Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia has rallied Sunni Muslim Arab countries in an air campaign to support Hadi, who moved to Aden in February and is now in Riyadh after leaving Yemen in the past week.

The fighting has brought civil war to a country that was already sliding into chaos and which had been a battlefield for the secret U.S. drone war against al Qaeda.

While the Houthi fighters and their army allies continued to make gains after the air strikes were first launched early on Thursday, they appeared to suffer reversals on Sunday on three fronts – in Aden’s northern suburbs, in Dhalea province north of the city and in the eastern province of Shabwa.

A Saudi military spokesman said the coalition it leads would step up pressure on the Houthis and their allies in the next few days. “There will be no safe place for the Houthi militia groups,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told reporters.

In the northern city of Saada, a Houthi stronghold near the Saudi border, strikes hit bases belonging to the militia and their ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who still controls most army units.

Asseri said strikes on Saturday night had targeted former Yemeni air force planes which the Houthis had moved from Sanaa to another air base. Very few jets remained in Houthi hands and they too would be destroyed, he said.

Saleh stood down after a 2011 uprising but still wields wide influence in Yemen. He appealed on Saturday to Arab leaders meeting in Egypt to halt their four-day offensive and resume talks on political transition in Yemen, promising that neither he nor his relatives would seek the presidency.

Hadi’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen dismissed his comments as “the talk of losers”.

Saudi Arabia’s military intervention is the latest front in its widening contest with Iran for power in the region, a proxy struggle also playing out in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Iran denies accusations from Sunni Gulf rulers that it has armed the Houthis, who follow the Zaidi branch of Shi’ite Islam.

Zaidi Shi’ites led a thousand-year kingdom in Yemen until 1962. Former leader Saleh himself is a member of the sect, although he tried to crush the Houthis while in office, only allying with them after his downfall.

SAUDIS SAY CAMPAIGN TO GO ON

Across the country, there were heavy clashes in seven southern and eastern provinces between the Houthis and pro-Saleh army units on the one hand, and Sunni tribesmen, pro-Hadi loyalists and armed southern separatists on the other.

Forces loyal to Hadi said on Sunday they had recaptured Aden airport. Heavy fighting in the area during the last week meant that foreign diplomats had to be evacuated from the city by boat, ferried by Saudi naval vessels to Jeddah on Saturday.

An Aden port official said a Chinese warship docked on Sunday to evacuate Chinese diplomats and expatriate workers.

Saudi King Salman told the Arab summit that military operations would continue until their objectives were met.

But a diplomat in the Gulf said it was unclear exactly what those military objectives were. “There is no political vision for the process. They don’t know the shape of the end game,” he said. “They did not even determine how they can claim victory”.

In Egypt, the Arab leaders announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing threats including Yemen’s conflict. Working out the mechanism and logistics of the unified force, an idea floated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, could take months.

In a rare move, Saudi-owned television channel Al-Arabiya broadcast a detailed account of what it said was a proposal last week to the Saudi leadership by Saleh’s son Ahmed to head off military intervention by breaking with the Houthis.

Al-Arabiya said Prince Mohammad rejected the proposal. “There must be a return to legitimacy in the form of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to lead Yemen from the capital Sanaa,” it quoted him as saying.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

From tourist heroes to zero – how the world’s former tourist magnets are coping

The Thaiger & The Nation

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From tourist heroes to zero – how the world’s former tourist magnets are coping | The Thaiger

If over-tourism became the buzzword in the travel industry in 2019, the opposite applies in 2020 when most of the world’s most popular tourist magnets are now facing a genuine economic crisis, forced on them by government closures and a risk-averse travel public, most of whom are prevented from travel beyond their own borders. We visit Dubrovnik, Santorini, Ibiza, Barcelona, Venice, Bali and Phuket.

Despite the perils of overtourism, and all sorts of plans to limit the rising foot-traffic, nothing could have prepared these bucket list locations for the challenge they now face. Travel bans, quarantines and nationwide lockdowns are forcing travellers to stay home and face their own domestic economic issues.

Travel is a long way down the list now for much of the world’s middle class who made up the vast majority of global travellers. More than most industries, Covid-19 has brought the world’s travel industry to its knees.

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Weather

At least 35 dead, 100s injured, 50+ missing in Vietnam typhoon Molave

The Thaiger

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At least 35 dead, 100s injured, 50+ missing in Vietnam typhoon Molave | The Thaiger

‘Molave’ has been the most powerful typhoon to hit Vietnam in 20 years. As it peters out into a harmless low pressure front making its way westwards in Thailand. Officials say the death toll across Vietnam may rise as some regions have been unable to report details of damage and casualties. This morning the remnants of Molave are sitting directly over central Thailand dumping rain but having lost its power.

A ‘typhoon’ is the Asian version of a hurricane or cyclone.

At least 35 dead, 100s injured, 50+ missing in Vietnam typhoon Molave | News by The Thaiger

Vietnam deployed soldiers and heavy machinery to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the region in decades. The main focus for rescue workers has been 3 villages in Vietnam’s central region where landslides killed at least 19 and are suspected of burying more than 40 others in thick mud. Rescue efforts are being hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm.

In Tra Leng village, about 45 kilometres from Tra Van, another landslide buried a community with several houses occupied by about 45 people. Rescuers say4 people escaped, while they recovered 8 bodies and later pulled out another 4 villagers alive, including 2 children, who were trapped in a buried house.

Tra Leng was initially cut off to rescue efforts as roads were washed away, flooding and other landslides. By late yesterday government rescue teams were able to open up a road with bulldozers and brought in more rescue teams and heavy equipment.

The Vietnamese government said Typhoon Molave had left millions of people without electricity and damaged at least 56,000 houses and caused a massive blackout in the Quang Ngai province, where 1.7 million people endured the onslaught of the typhoon in darkness.

Also among the dead are 12 fishermen whose boats sank Wednesday as Typhoon Molave approached with winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe

Maya Taylor

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France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas Selter on Unsplash

The leaders of France and Germany are once again having to introduce national lockdowns as the Covid-19 virus continues to surge across Europe. France is now recording over 36,000 (+36,437 yesterday) new cases a day, while Germany, which fared slightly better than other European countries during the first wave of the virus, is now seeing a dramatic rise in cases as winter approaches (+16,202 yesterday).

In announcing the new lockdown in France, President Emmanuel Macron warned that the country faces a second wave that could be worse than the first. Strict measures come into effect from tomorrow, with people not permitted to leave their homes unless it is to seek medical attention, purchase essential items, or to exercise for a maximum of an hour a day. However, schools remain open and people can still go to work if it is not possible for them to do their job from home.

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated. Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus. We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that from next Monday, November 2, to the end of November, all bars, restaurants, and theatres will close. Schools will remain open and shops will be permitted to operate under strict conditions. The chancellor warns that the measures are vital to protect the country’s healthcare system.

“We need to take action now. Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections, it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

Confirmation of lockdowns in Europe’s biggest economies caused stock markets around the world to plummet, with European markets closing at their lowest level since late May. The S&P 500, which measures the performance of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the US, was down 3%.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, with just 5 days to go before the presidential election, the US continues to set records with its rising numbers of virus cases. President Trump, however, remains undeterred, as he continues to hold public rallies, with many supporters not wearing masks.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: SBS News

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