Six In The Morning Friday 12 January 2024

Huge rally in Yemen capital after US and UK strike Houthi targets

What moved the dial for the US?


Gary O’Donoghue

Senior Correspondent, North America

It’s clear from senior administration officials that an attack on an American commercial vessel, being escorted by US military vessels on Tuesday, was the tipping point for last night’s action.

Twenty drones and three missiles were shot down and, had that not happened, officials say the ships could have been sunk, including one that was carrying jet fuel.

The fact that this action was clearly telegraphed in both Washington and London is a clear indication that the US and UK governments, along with the other members of what officials here call “a coalition of the willing”, wanted to minimise any collateral damage and loss of life; degrading facilities and capabilities was, they say, their aim.

Israel accuses South Africa of ‘profound distortion’ at ICJ genocide hearing

Israeli legal team calls South African accusation of genocidal acts in Gaza ‘a partial and deeply flawed picture’

Israel has accused South Africa of presenting a “profoundly distorted” view “barely distinguishable” from Hamas as it presented its defence at the international court of justice in The Hague against accusations of genocide.

A day after South Africa argued that it had committed genocidal acts in Gaza with intent from “the highest levels of state”, Israel said on Friday that was a “partial and deeply flawed picture”.

It claimed that blame for many Palestinian civilian deaths – 1% of Gaza’s population has been killed since 7 October – and the destruction of tens of thousands of buildings, cited by South Africa in support of its application, lay at the hands of Hamas either directly or indirectly.

Myanmar: China says army and guerillas agreed to cease-fire

The army and rebel groups in Myanmar have agreed to resolve disputes with negotiations, China says. Beijing has been growing concerned over the impact of the conflict on Chinese citizens.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it had mediated an “immediate cease-fire” between the Myanmar national army and rebel guerrilla groups fighting against it.

Talks were held in the Chinese city of Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province that borders Myanmar, on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The two sides agreed to an immediate cease-fire, to disengage military personnel and resolve relevant disputes and demands through peaceful negotiations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

Taiwan’s political parties rally on eve of pivotal presidential vote

Tens of thousands of supporters flocked to noisy, colourful rallies for Taiwan’s three main political parties on Friday, as the candidates made a last push for votes in an election that China has warned could take the island closer to war.

Taiwan‘s bustling democracy of 23 million people is separated by a narrow 180-kilometre (110-mile) strait from communist-ruled China, which claims the island as part of its territory.

Saturday’s election is being closely watched around the world as the winner will lead the strategically important island — a major producer of vital semiconductors — as it manages ties with an increasingly assertive China.

Vice President Lai Ching-te, the front-runner candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), paints the election as a choice between “democracy and autocracy” — criticising his main opponent Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT) for being too “pro-China”.

Passengers’ cooperation in deadly JAL crash made for ‘miracle’ escape

By Yuki Yamaguchi

When flames rose from outside the window and smoke started to fill the cabin, the possibility of death flickered across the minds of many of the 367 passengers on Japan Airlines’ flight 516, who all escaped a near-fatal catastrophe.

The chaotic scenes of what has been dubbed a “miraculous escape” have become clearer as passengers have spoken more about their experiences and offered a trove of smartphone images in the 10 days since the runway collision between an Airbus A350 jetliner and a Japan Coast Guard plane at Haneda airport in Tokyo.

“It’s going to be fine. Please calm down,” flight attendants repeatedly called out to panicking passengers, seen in footage of the scene recorded on people’s smartphones. “Don’t take your luggage with you. Crouch low and cover your nose and mouth.”

As Arevalo inauguration approaches, Guatemalans express cautious optimism

Attacks against President-elect Bernardo Arevalo have fuelled fears of election interference ahead of his swearing-in.

Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arevalo is poised to assume office on Sunday, following his landslide victory in the 2023 presidential elections.

But Arevalo’s impending inauguration has been overshadowed by a string of recent legal attacks against him and his party — widely interpreted as attempts to overturn the vote.

Now, as he prepares to be sworn in, analysts question how much the uncertainty of the past months has weakened Guatemala’s fragile democracy and shaken public confidence.

Arevalo, an anticorruption candidate, first catapulted into the international spotlight with a surprise second-place finish in the June general elections.