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Arabic press review: Secret documents reveal Saudi policies in Yemen since 2011

Meanwhile, Iraqi activists plan new anti-government protests, Hajj season ends with no related coronavirus infections and Algeria seeks four-year sentence for journalist
Yemeni gunmen chant during a gathering in the capital Sanaa, in support of the Houthi movement against the Saudi-led intervention in the country on 7 July 2020 (AFP)

Leaked documents: Saudi Arabia sought to divide Yemen

Saudi secret documents published by Al Jazeera revealed that the kingdom's strategy in Yemen has been based on dividing the country through supporting various entities instead of the state.

Some of the 162 pages of documents date back to a sensitive period prior to the start of the war in Yemen in 2015.

Al Jazeera said that the documents indicate that several policies adopted by Saudi Arabia since 2011 have pushed Yemen into its current situation.

Included in the documents are the Saudi government's position towards powers and figures who are seeking the separation of the south and its reassessment of supporting tribes.

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Saudi Arabia had viewed the separation of Yemen as one of the main options for resolving what it describes as the “issue of the south”.

A documented dated from September 2012 showed that some southern entities received significant Saudi support after the signing of the Gulf initiative in 2011. Saudi Arabia had sought to support and attract several southern powers, under the pretext of fighting what Riyadh called the Iranian incursion in southern Yemen. Meanwhile, the kingdom had employed spies to report on meetings between southern leaders, which were held under international sponsorship.

The kingdom’s initiative towards southern powers took place without the knowledge of the Yemeni government, according to the document.

Other documents showed Saudi Arabia’s lack of action in stopping the Houthi rebels seizing Sanaa, despite recommendations by Saudi intelligence to do so.

The documents also revealed that the kingdom hindered German and Qatari reconstruction efforts in the city of Saada in northern Yemen, after a ceasefire had ended six years of conflicts between Houthi rebels and the government of the then president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2010.

A document entitled “Very confidential - meeting of the committee reviewing the allocations of Yemeni sheikhs”, and issued by the office of the assistant minister of interior for security affairs, showed a constant effort to strengthen the tribes' authority by providing material support to some sheikhs in exchange for ensuring they implemented Riyadh's agendas and policies.

Iraqi protesters to renew demonstrations

Iraqi activists are planning to hold large-scale demonstrations in Baghdad and several cities in Iraq’s south and centre next week, in continuation of the demands for which they held months-long protests before the outbreak of coronavirus, according to the London-based newspaper Al-Arabi Al-Jadid.

The escalation would renew pressure on Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who has repeatedly promised to hold those responsible for violence against protesters accountable and ordered the release of all protesters arrested since the demonstrations began in October 2019.

The protests are slated to start on 10 August. Dozens of activists gathered from the Iraqi cities that have witnessed protests at a meeting held in Babel Governorate, under the title “The national meeting of the angry governorates”.

There, prominent demonstrators made suggestions on how the upcoming protests and peaceful escalation should proceed.

Activists agreed to return to the streets, vowing to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions, to preserve public property and to not clash with the security forces or provoke religious figures.

Hajj ends with no new coronavirus cases

The Saudi Ministry of Health said that the Hajj season ended without registering a single case of Covid-19, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

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Only up to 10,000 Muslims took part in the Hajj last week, a dramatic decrease from the 2.5 million who took part in the five-day annual pilgrimage last year. Pilgrims this year observed social-distancing measures

Saudi Arabia continues to record the lowest number of daily cases over the past three months, as the number of critical cases, new and active, decreases. The recovery rate had increased by more than 86 percent of the total recorded cases, according to the Saudi newspaper.

The Ministry of Health announced that 2,533 new recovered cases were registered on Sunday, bringing the total number of recoveries to more than 240,000.

Saudi Arabia has recorded 280,093 confirmed coronavirus cases. On Monday, the kingdom recorded 1,357 new cases.

Prosecutor seeks four-year sentence for Algerian journalist

The Algerian public prosecutor is seeking a four-year prison sentence for Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni, who has been held in detention since the end of March, the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported. During the trial’s opening session on Monday, the prosecution also requested the same sentence for two other defendants for reporting on a demonstration.

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Drareni, an Algeria correspondent for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who had covered Algeria’s protest movement extensively since it first began in February 2019, has become a symbol of the fight for press freedom.

A judicial source said the prosecutor's office in Algiers had also ordered a fine for the three defendants and deprived them of their civil rights.

"It is shocking and shameful! The public prosecutor has asked for a four-year jail sentence to be imposed on our correspondent in Algeria,” RSF said in a tweet, calling for his immediate release. Drareni, 40, is also the director of the Casbah Tribune website and a correspondent for French TV5Monde.

On 29 March, he was placed in pre-trial detention on a charge of "inciting an unarmed gathering and undermining national unity", after covering a demonstration by the anti-government movement Hirak.

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye