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Yemen govt to grant amnesty to those who cut ties with Houthi rebels

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Ali Abudallah Saleh

Yemen’s internationally-recognised government said Monday it would grant amnesty to anyone who cuts ties with Huthi rebels, after a key rebel ally turned his back on the Iran-backed insurgents.

“The president will soon announce a general amnesty for all those who collaborated with the Huthis in recent months and who have retracted that allegiance,” Prime Minister Ahmad Obaid bin Daghr said.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthis warned civilians on Monday to evacuate rebel-held areas in the capital Sanaa, after the government ordered an advance to retake the city.

“The coalition urges civilians to evacuate areas near positions held by the Huthis,” read a coalition statement published by Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV.

A wave of air raids rattled Yemen’s crisis-hit capital Monday, witnesses said, as clashes between rebels and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh also spread beyond Sanaa.

The strikes appeared to hit targets near Sanaa International Airport and the interior ministry, both under the control of the Iran-backed Huthi rebels, according to residents and a source inside the airport.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional arch-rival, is the only party in the Yemen war known to conduct air strikes on Sanaa.

A spokesman for the coalition did not respond to requests for confirmation of the raids on Monday.

Residents near the airport said multiple air raids had shaken their homes late Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday.

An airport source said rebel bases near the location appeared to have been targeted but the airport itself had not been bombed.

Residents also reported that the fighting, which erupted Wednesday night between armed Saleh supporters and Huthi fighters, had spread outside the capital.

Tribal sources in Saleh’s hometown Sanhan, south of Sanaa, on Monday reported intense overnight fighting between the Huthis and Saleh loyalists.

Yemeni territory is split between the forces and government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the south, backed by Saudi Arabia and recognised by the international community, the northern Huthi rebels and forces loyal to strongman Saleh.

Since 2014, Sanaa has been ruled under an agreement between Saleh and the Huthis, who drove the Hadi government out of the capital, set up their own government and for two years together fought the Saudi-led coalition.

Saleh on Saturday announced he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies on condition they ended their crippling blockade on Yemen’s ports and airports — dealing a serious blow to his already fragile alliance with rebel chief Abdul Malik al-Huthi.

The Saleh-Huthi split has sparked fears of a new front in the Yemen war, which has already claimed more than 8,750 lives since the Saudi-led coalition joined the war to support the Hadi government.

The conflict has pushed Yemen to the brink of mass starvation and triggered what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Health

13 Israelis suffer facial paralysis post inoculation

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

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Vaccine

Jerusalem, Jan 17 : At least 13 Israelis suffered mild facial paralysis as a side effect after receiving the first Covid vaccine jabs, the Health Ministry said, adding that the count could be higher.

The officials have raised questions on whether or not to administer the second dose to these individuals the Health Ministry had recommended for the second dose, reported the Jerusalem Post.

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

“I can’t say it was completely gone afterwards, but other than that I had no other pains, except a minor pain where the injection was, but there was nothing beyond that.”

As for receiving the second dose, he admits he is undecided, but says that “it is important to note that this is something rare, and I don’t want people to avoid getting vaccinated – it’s important”.

“I recently came across, for example, someone vaccinated who was dealing with paralysis, and decided not to give her a second dose,” Galia Rahav, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Centre told Ynet.

“It is true that it can be given according to the Health Ministry, but I did not feel comfortable with it.”

She added that, “No one knows if this is connected to the vaccine or not. That’s why I would refrain from giving a second dose to someone who suffered from paralysis after the first dose.”

However, the Health Ministry has assured of the second dose only when the paralysis passes, Ynet reported.

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Lifestyle

Saudi Arabia, the Largest Producer of Oil, Will Now Create a City Without Cars or Roads

A Saudi statement said construction would start in the first quarter of 2021 and that the city was expected to contribute $48 billion to the kingdom’s gross domestic product and create 380,000 jobs.

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saudi arabia

Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come out with his latest vision for the nation which is the largest producer of oil – an ambitious non-carbon emissions city without cars or roads.

The project named “The Line” will be home to a million people and have no cars and no streets, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, Arab News reported. “The city will be a 170 kilometer belt of “hyper-connected future communities,” and will be built around the natural environment,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said there was a need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one. “By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. 90 per cent of people breathe polluted air,” he added.

“Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution? Why should we lose one million people every year due to traffic accidents? And why should we accept wasting years of our lives commuting?” he said, according to the report.

The project is part of the prince’s plans to build a zero-carbon city at NEOM, the first major construction project for the $500 billion flagship business zone aimed at diversifying the nation’s economy.

The prince later told reporters in the northwestern city of Al Ula that the project was the conclusion of three years of preparation, adding that its infrastructure would cost $100 billion to $200 billion.

“The backbone of investment in ‘The Line’ will come from the $500 billion support to NEOM by the Saudi government, PIF and local and global investors over 10 years,” he added.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is the cornerstone investor in NEOM, a 26,500-square-km (10,230-square-mile) high-tech development on the Red Sea with several zones, including an industrial and logistics areas, planned for completion in 2025.

There have been few announcements regarding NEOM since it was announced by de facto ruler Prince Mohammed to much fanfare in 2017 as a pillar of his Vision 2030 plan to rid Saudi Arabia of its reliance on crude oil revenues.

A Saudi statement said construction would start in the first quarter of 2021 and that the city was expected to contribute $48 billion to the kingdom’s gross domestic product and create 380,000 jobs.

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Business

OPEC allows Russia, Kazakhstan to raise output

Kazakhstan will boost its production by 10,000 bpd to 14,27,000 bpd in February and by another 10,000 bpd to 14,37,000 bpd in March.

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OPEC

Moscow, Jan 6 : The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-bloc producers agreed to allow Russia and Kazakhstan to slightly raise oil output in the next two months.

In accordance with a deal published by the OPEC, Russia will increase its output by 65,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the January level to 91,84,000 bpd in February and by another 65,000 bpd to 9,249,000 bpd in March, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Kazakhstan will boost its production by 10,000 bpd to 14,27,000 bpd in February and by another 10,000 bpd to 14,37,000 bpd in March.

All the remaining participants in the OPEC+ mechanism will keep their output unchanged from January.

The OPEC+ has introduced caps on production to stabilize global oil prices.

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