Yemen government sets conditions for Houthi talks

In this file photo, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mekhlafi speaks to the media after peace talks on Yemen.(Reuters)
Updated 05 January 2018
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Yemen government sets conditions for Houthi talks

SANAA: Deputy prime minister and foreign minister Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi said the Iran-backed rebels must immediately stop all crimes committed against politicians and civilians in Yemen.
The rebels, who sparked the war in Yemen when they seized the capital in 2014, must also release all detainees and stop launching missiles, Al-Mekhlafi told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The other conditions for talks include a call for the rebels to stop attacking and besieging cities and allowing humanitarian aid to reach civilians.
Al-Mekhlafi said the rebels must also back the three references for a political solution in Yemen, including the Gulf Initiative, outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue and Security Council Resolution 2216.
“The current situation stipulates the need for rebels to show good intention, as there will be no return for talks in the way they went before,” he said.
The minister stressed that Houthis have “proved they are no partners in peace, and are not ready to currently engage in peace”.
UN-sponsored talks in Kuwait in 2016 broke down with the two sides deadlocked and the Houthis and their then ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh were condemned for attempting to form a a political council to run the country.
Last year the Houthi’s alliance with Saleh crumbled, and the rebels killed the former president in December.
Al-Mekhlafi said the rebels’ unwillingness to find a political solution was also down to their backing by Iran.
“Iran considers the Houthis and their battle in Yemen as part of its war to control the Arab region, and therefore behave accordingly,” he said.


Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 6 min 57 sec ago
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Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.