Yemeni govt rejects solutions not based on previous terms

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr. (AFP)
Updated 30 January 2017

Yemeni govt rejects solutions not based on previous terms

ADEN: The Yemeni government has reiterated its rejection of any political solution to end the Houthi coup unless it is based on previously agreed terms.
It seeks an agreement based on the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism, the outputs of the national dialogue and UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
“Any solutions not based on these references would create potential for new conflicts and would be rejected by Yemeni people,” the government said in a statement on Sunday following its regular meeting headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr in Aden.
The government has also reiterated its commitment to achieving just and sustainable peace in the country, while adhering to the previously agreed terms of reference for a political solution to put an end the coup.
The prime minister noted that the government is determined to continue with its efforts to restore legitimacy to the Yemeni state, after the coup by the Houthis and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s militias. “These militias have turned against the state, destroyed all financial and administrative institutions, caused the suffering of the Yemeni people and severed its national unity and social fabric,” Daghr said.
The Yemeni government has called anew upon international human rights and humanitarian organizations to open their main offices in the temporary capital of Aden.
The legitimate Yemeni government has meanwhile restated that the situation is improving in Aden and territories liberated from the Houthis and Saleh-aligned militias.
The Cabinet has hailed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s decision to transfer the headquarters of the House of Representatives to the temporary capital of Aden.
In the same context, the Aden Refinery Company has pumped 2,000 tons of diesel and 2,000 tons of oil into the company’s installations, following the end of a weeks-long strike by the company’s workers.
The workers’ union decided to end the strike and resume operations after Hadi visited to the company’s headquarters in Aden and met with executives.
Union chief Mohammad Abdullah Al-Musaibali said the strike had been lifted following a pledge by the president to study the workers’ demands.

Daesh defends final pocket of dying ‘caliphate’ in Syria

Updated 47 min 12 sec ago

Daesh defends final pocket of dying ‘caliphate’ in Syria

  • Diehard extremist fighters are now trapped in a patch of territory of less than half a square kilometer in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border
  • Thousands of people have streamed out of the so-called ‘Baghouz pocket’ in recent weeks, but no civilians have made it out in the last three days

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: Extremists defending their last dreg of territory in Syria have no choice but to surrender, a Kurdish-led force said on Monday, ahead of a victory declaration expected within days.

The warning by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comes as EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the repatriation of European nationals in Syria, which Germany said would be “extremely difficult” to do.

Diehard extremist fighters are now trapped in their last patch of territory of less than half a square kilometer in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.

The SDF are moving cautiously on the extremist holdout, saying Daesh is increasingly using civilians as “human shields” to block the advance.

“The clashes are sporadic and very limited,” SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali told AFP on Monday.

“So far there have been no significant changes on the ground,” he said, adding that coalition warplanes have reduced air strikes on Daesh positions over the past two days.

The SDF “are still working on trying to get civilians out,” the spokesman said.

Thousands of people have streamed out of the so-called “Baghouz pocket” in recent weeks, but no civilians have made it out in the last three days.

An informed source told AFP that holdout Daesh fighters are seeking safe passage to the extremist-held city of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

“They want to take the remaining civilians with them as human shields. But the SDF are not willing to discuss this option,” said the source who asked not to be named.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the SDF have turned down the request.

AFP could not confirm this with an SDF official, but a commander with the alliance said that Daesh has no leverage to negotiate.

“They are besieged in a very tight area and they have no other choice but to surrender,” said the SDF commander, who asked not to be named.

The group declared a “caliphate” across large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, which at its height spanned an area the size of United Kingdom.

Successive offensives in both countries have since shattered the proto-state, but the extremist group still retains a presence in Syria’s vast Badia desert and has claimed deadly attacks in SDF-held territory.

After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led SDF hold hundreds of foreign suspected Daesh fighters, as well as related women and children.

Syria’s Kurds have long urged their home countries to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.

The issue has taken on greater urgency, however, amid fears of a security vacuum since US President Donald Trump’s shock announcement in December that American troops would withdraw.

The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.

The meeting comes after Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back their citizens who are being held by the Kurds in Syria.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.

His appeal sparked a reaction from Berlin, Paris, and Brussels.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria.

A return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained,” he said.

Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen stressed the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial.

“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” she said.

French junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said Sunday that, if suspected extremists return, “they will all be tried, and incarcerated.”

In Belgium, justice minister Koen Geens called for a collective “European solution.”

Meanwhile, a top Kurdish official called on Europe not to abandon Syrian Kurds.

European powers “have a political and moral responsibility” to the Kurds, Aldar Khalil told AFP in an interview in Paris late Sunday.

The Kurds would seek the protection of Syrian President Bashar Assad if failed by Europe and the United States, he said.