Yemen’s Islah suspends Karman’s membership

Al Mukalla: Yemen’s Islamist Islah party has suspended the membership of Tawakul Karman, a Nobel peace laureate, for her harsh criticism of the Saudi-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen. The party said in a statement on its official website that Tawakul has turned a deaf ear to appeals from the party that her continuous statements against anti-Al Houthi military operations in Yemen contradict the party’s stand. “The General Secretariat confirms that what Tawakul Karman has said does not represent the party’s position and directions, and breaches the party’s stand. Based on Islah’s regulations and principles, the General Secretariat has frozen her membership,” the party said.

Shortly after Islah’s announcement, Tawakul accused the party of being a “slave” and a “hostage”. Mohammad Al Yadoumi, the party’s leader, told the Saudi-owned Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper that Tawakul’s verbal attacks against the Saudi-led coalition did not represent the party’s position, and that his party had thrown its weight behind the coalition’s military operations since day one.

In December, Islah’s leaders held rare talks with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. The party said it decided to approach the leaders of the coalition to clear “misconceptions” about its role in the current military operations. Meanwhile, on the battlefield, Yemen’s Defence Ministry said on Sunday army troops had advanced into Al Houthi-held territory on the eastern suburbs of the city as other forces battle rebels on the western, northern and southern edges. Yemen’s army launched an assault deep into Al Houthi-held territory in the eastern part of the city, triggering fierce clashes with Al Houthis. The ministry said Al Houthis lost control of part of Al Wa’ash mountain amid sustained air strikes. An Al Houthi military commander called Abu Othman and a number of his associates were killed in the fighting.

Fighting intensified in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, last week when government troops launched a major offensive aimed at lifting the Al Houthi siege and ending the shelling. The coalition launched their massive aerial campaign in March 2015 to blunt Al Houthis’ rapid military expansion and uphold the legitimacy ofthe internationally-recognised government. The military operations tilted the balance in favour of the government and enabled its forces to take control of more than 80 per cent of Yemen.

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