War against Daesh in Syria will be won by February: France’s Macron

France's President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Chancellor give a joint press conference at the end of a European Union summit in Brussels, in this December 15, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2017
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War against Daesh in Syria will be won by February: France’s Macron

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday predicted the Daesh group would be crushed in Syria by February, pushing for the Syrian government and opposition to come together for fresh peace talks early next year.
“We have just won the war in Iraq with the coalition,” Macron said in an interview with France 2 television.
“And I think that by the middle to the end of February, we will have won the war in Syria.”
Macron described President Bashar Assad as “an enemy of the Syrian people,” but insisted: “We have to speak to Assad and his representatives.”
And despite this week’s failure of the latest UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva, he wants to see “a process emerge at the start of next year with Assad’s representatives, but I hope also representatives of all of the opposition.”
He underlined that France’s top priority as part of the US-led coalition pounding IS is “the extermination” of the jihadist group rather than ousting Assad, which has been the country’s official stance since June.
And the Syrian president will not be leaving any time soon after the defeat of IS, Macron said.
“Bashar Assad will be there,” he said. “He will be there because he is protected by those who have won the war on the ground, whether it’s Iran or Russia.”
However, at some point, Macron said, Assad “will have to respond to his crimes before his people, before the international courts.”
“France’s plan is to win peace, de-mine the country, to de-militarise it and build a political solution that will allow a durable peace — which means all minorities being protected, Christians, Shiites and Sunnis,” Macron said.
As fighting continues in a multi-faceted war that has killed more than 340,000 people since 2011, IS, which once controlled swathes of land, now holds just a few patches of Syrian territory.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared victory on December 9 in the three-year war to expel the jihadist group which at its height held roughly one third of the country.
 


Yemen groups agree to reopen Sanaa airport, still in talks on port at Sweden talks

Updated 12 December 2018
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Yemen groups agree to reopen Sanaa airport, still in talks on port at Sweden talks

  • Askar Zaeel, a member of the government delegation, said his camp would hold firm to UN Security Council Resolution 2216
  • Multiple draft proposals have been submitted to the two delegations over the past week

RIMBO, Sweden: Yemen's warring parties agreed on Wednesday to reopen Sanaa airport in the Houthi-held capital, sources said, as Western nations press the two sides to agree on confidence-building measures before the end of the first UN-led peace talks in two years.
The Iranian-backed Houthi movement and the Arab coalition-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi were still discussing a UN proposal on the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to attend final talks in Sweden on Thursday to support his envoy's efforts to launch a political process to end the nearly four-year-old war. Another round of talks could be held in early 2019.
The Houthi militia hold most population centres, including Hodeidah and the capital Sanaa from which it ousted Hadi's government in 2014. The government is now based in the southern port of Aden.
The two parties agreed that international flights would stop at a government-held airport for inspections before flying in or out of Sanaa, two sources familiar with the talks said.
They have yet to agree on whether those inspections would be in Aden airport or that of Sayun, the sources added.
The Arab coalition intervened in the war in 2015 to restore Hadi's government controls the air space.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths, trying to avert a full-scale assault on Hodeidah, where coalition forces have massed on the outskirts, is asking both sides to withdraw from the city.
His proposal envisions an interim entity being formed to run the city and port and international monitors being deployed.
Asked if the government could accept that proposal, culture minister Marwan Dammaj said: "We are still discussing it."
Both sides have agreed to a UN role in the port, the entry point for most of Yemen's commercial imports and vital aid, but differ on who should run the city. The Houthi militia want Hodeidah declared a neutral zone, while Hadi's government believes the city should fall under its control as a matter of sovereignty.
"The devil is in the details - withdraw how far (from Hodeidah), the sequence, who governs and delivers services," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
They have also yet to agree on shoring up the central bank, and on a transitional governing body, although a deal was struck on a prisoner swap that could see 15,000 prisoners released.