Houthi intransigence must not obstruct Yemen relief effort

Updated 18 May 2015
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Houthi intransigence must not obstruct Yemen relief effort

The decision by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to set up a relief center in Riyadh shows his ardent desire to help the distressed Yemeni people and ease their sufferings. The king will open the center and lay the foundation of its permanent headquarters today.
When it comes to helping neighbors, the Kingdom is always at the forefront. This was precisely the reason why it led a coalition that launched Operation Decisive Storm to counter Iran-backed Houthis who had staged a coup against the legitimate Yemeni President, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Guns have to be completely silenced before humanitarian aid can begin to enter Yemen. A truce means just that. Nothing less. Although Saudi Arabia is keenly aware that five days of ‘peace’ aimed at a double-edged goal is always in danger of falling apart, it has no option but to maintain an even higher degree of readiness for that eventuality. Truces are always fragile and factional infighting makes them difficult to succeed.
Indeed, it is Saudi Arabia that has called for this gesture in the hope that while the wounded and the suffering, the homeless and the destitute, all casualties of war are given food and medicines, these five days can also be used to unfold the negotiating table.
While one appreciates the honesty of the new UN envoy who has landed in Yemen, the fact is that Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has underscored the need for a Yemeni solution to a Yemeni problem and this may not be that easy since the cracks in the ethnic mapping are intense.
It can only be hoped that the cease-fire holds, but the first day will be tension filled because suspicion will be on a hair trigger. The Kingdom has demonstrated its sincerity by agreeing to the cease-fire despite previous violations and provocative acts by the Houthis.
In this difficult time, one must laud the Saudi initiative and all efforts have to be made for a breakthrough because if there is no progress after five days, there would be more bitterness and the call for a second truce may not be heard or brought about so easily. In the interim, let not trigger-happy groups stymie the shipments of aid and succor that are standing by. They must reach the afflicted.
Let us hope that the right minds listen and come to the table…enough blood has been shed. There is no need for more loss of life. The Kingdom’s sincerity should be reciprocated in the same way. Houthis should abide by the cease-fire and let aid and relief reach the Yemeni people.


Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

Updated 15 min 3 sec ago
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Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

TOKYO: French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to bolster naval defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region and shared concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East.
Macron, in Tokyo ahead of this week’s Group of 20 summit in Osaka, told a joint news conference that he also hoped tensions over the US-China trade dispute will ease during the summit.
The two leaders discussed nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran and issues to be raised at the G-20 summit.
Macron said he and Abe agreed on the need to ensure the verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of both Iran and North Korea.
“On both these topics we have a common point of view and a real will, in the two cases, to reach collective security by the non-acquisition of nuclear weapons or the total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” Macron said. “And we have the will to ensure the stability of these regions.”
Abe said protecting the safety of the Strait of Hormuz is also crucial. During his recent visit to Tehran in hopes of de-escalating tensions between Iran and the US, a Japanese oil tanker was attacked, though all 21 crewmembers were safe.
“Securing safety of navigation at the Strait of Hormuz, which connects Europe and Asia, is extremely important for the peace and stability of international society including Japan and France,” Abe said. He said he and Macron shared concerns about the rising tension in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their cooperation in efforts to stabilize the situation.
Asked about former Nissan and Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn, charged with financial misconduct, Macron said he is “attached to the principle of the presumption of innocence and to the rights of the defense.” He also said France is responsible for protecting an important company and its employees from a negative impact, and to reaffirm the “solidity” of Renault and that of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Macron said heightened tensions caused by the trade dispute between the US and China are also a global concern.
“We are at a time of very high tensions between the United States and China, so I wish we have, during the G-20, talks that will enable the appeasement of these tensions,” Macron said.
“For me, the solution to the problems we encounter is not in bilateral agreements, is not in bypassing international rules, is not in protectionism, but it is very clearly in the modernization of the trade multilateral framework,” Macron said.
Talks planned for Saturday between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit are getting extensive attention.
Abe, at another news conference, said he hopes the two leaders will have a constructive dialogue.
Japan and France also unveiled a five-year roadmap of cooperation focusing on maritime security, especially in the Indo-Pacific where China has been growing increasingly assertive. They also agreed to promote cooperation in defense technology, space, and science and technology.