Vital Yemen port to stay open for a month

The Red Sea port of Hodeidah in Yemen will remain open for the delivery of humanitarian aid. (File/Reuters)
Updated 21 December 2017

Vital Yemen port to stay open for a month

JEDDAH: The Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen will keep the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port open for a month despite a missile attack on Riyadh that was intercepted on Tuesday.
The coalition said on Wednesday it was “keen to maintain humanitarian aid to the brotherly Yemeni people.” Two days after a missile fired at Riyadh was intercepted on Nov. 4, Saudi Arabia and its allies closed air, land and sea access to Yemen to prevent the flow of arms from Iran to the Houthis.
The Iran-backed militia must surrender their weapons before the start of any peace talks, Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on Tuesday night. Other conditions are the restoration of his government to power and the handover of state institutions.
“We do not have a partner with whom we can reach peace,” Hadi said at a meeting with foreign ambassadors at his residence in Riyadh.
Dialogue had become impossible since the Houthis assassinated Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had sought a cease-fire deal with Saudi Arabia, Hadi said. “They have proved that they do not tend toward peace... and any attempt at peace before their weapons are seized is a waste of time.”
Tuesday’s Houthi attack on Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh sparked global outrage. Iran has also been criticized for its support of the militia to foment unrest in Yemen. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, urged the Security Council on Tuesday to punish Iran for its “dangerous violations” of UN resolutions and “destabilizing behavior.”
Tuesday’s missile attack “bears all the hallmarks of previous attacks using Iranian-provided weapons,” Haley said.
“This is not the first time the Houthis have fired missiles at civilians in a G-20 country. And unless we act, it won’t be the last. It is only a matter of time before one of these missiles hits the target. If we don’t do something, we will miss the opportunity to prevent further violence from Iran.”
Haley said a new report from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres — the fourth such report on the progress of Iran’s compliance with Resolution 2231 — was “the most damning yet” and urged the council to consider “a few options we can use to put pressure on Iran to adjust their behavior.”
The resolution endorses the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, but also imposes restrictions on Tehran’s use and export of ballistic missiles. The report was compiled before the latest missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, but Haley said it still contained evidence of Iranian involvement in illegal activities.
“The report describes a dual English-Farsi keyboard that was part of the guidance system of an unmanned surface vehicle used against the Saudi coalition in Yemen. That was just one of several pieces of evidence that points to the Iranian manufacture of the detonation and guidance systems of the weapon,” she said. “There is plenty more.”
She also referred to the recovery of a number of weapons “from attacks and planned attacks on a G-20 country” which were “made by Iranian weapons industries tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).”
“We must speak with one voice in dealing with Iranian threats to peace,” Haley said. “While we do so, we must also make it clear that the Iranian people are not the problem. The Iranian people are victims of their own government.”
Haley also recognized that many UN member states had “put a lot of effort into the nuclear agreement with Iran.” However, she said: “That should not allow us to look the other way at the very serious non-nuclear items like sales of arms, ballistic missile testing, and support for terrorism.
“The international community must demonstrate that we are committed to ensuring accountability for the full spectrum of Iran’s malign behavior.”

Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 15 min 37 sec ago

Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.