Report

AQAP Tightens Hold on Yemeni City

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is consolidating its hold on al-Mukalla, the port capital of Yemen’s Hadhramaut Province where it staged a jailbreak earlier this month. Yesterday, the jihadist group seized control of the airport and a military base, and reportedly reached an agreement with local tribal leaders to govern the area. AQAP is setting ...

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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is consolidating its hold on al-Mukalla, the port capital of Yemen’s Hadhramaut Province where it staged a jailbreak earlier this month. Yesterday, the jihadist group seized control of the airport and a military base, and reportedly reached an agreement with local tribal leaders to govern the area. AQAP is setting up 51-person local council as an administration. “This is dangerous. We know what their orientation is,” a local leader told reporters, but said it was necessary to prevent a violent confrontation. An airstrike in Shabwa Province, believed to be from an American drone, might have killed a provincial AQAP commander.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire among all parties in Yemen yesterday, saying it is “the best way out of a drawn-out war with terrifying implications for regional stability.” The statement was part of a far-ranging speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He is expected to name Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed, currently the top U.N. diplomat working on the ebola crisis, as the new special envoy to Yemen today.

Assad Dismisses Report, Discusses Losses in Interview

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed accusations in a new Human Rights Watch report of using toxic chemicals in barrel bombs, saying that it was “propaganda against Syria.” He also cited Turkish and Gulf support to the opposition as being instrumental in his forces’ recent losses in Idlib. “The main factor was the huge support that came through Turkey; logistic support, and military support, and of course financial support that came through Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” he told Swedish newspaper Expressen. “Any war weakens any army, no matter how strong, no matter how modern.”

Headlines

  • The Iraqi military said that it has regained control of two towns, al-Malha and al-Mazraah, in the vicinity of the Bayji oil refinery.

 

  • A Sicilian fishing boat was seized by armed men 40 miles off the coast of Libya and is believed to have been taken to Misrata in what has been called an “act of piracy.”

 

  • Sixteen European Union member states are pressing the E.U. leadership to require that produce from Israeli settlements carry labels denoting its origin.

 

  • Zainab Bangura, U.N. special representative on sexual violence, departed yesterday for a trip through the Middle East including stops in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

 

  • A Hamas official called for kidnapping Israeli soldiers and settlers to swap for Palestinian prisoners, claiming “it is our right because we have no other way to free our heroes.”

-J. Dana Stuster

-/AFP/Getty Images

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