Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, right, welcomes Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi in Moscow on Monday. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2018
0

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

MOSCOW: Russia on Monday called for an end to fighting in Yemen. Russia halted its diplomatic presence in Yemen last month.
“There is no alternative but to end armed conflict as soon as possible in Yemen,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow with his Yemeni counterpart Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi.
He said Moscow would engage with all sides to help the situation move to a political dialogue.
The Yemeni foreign minister said: “The legitimate government of Yemen, in common with the Arab coalition, supports a peaceful solution,” in comments translated into Russian. “War was not our choice, war was imposed on us,” he said.
Separately, Yemeni security officials said Houthi rebels fired Katyusha rockets on a military parade near the central city of Taiz, killing four civilians, including a local journalist, in an apparent assassination attempt on the interior minister and his deputy.
The officials spoke about Monday’s attack on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
On Sunday, the UN called for nearly $3 billion in humanitarian relief for the country.
The $2.96 billion will be used to respond to fight looming famine and cholera in the country.
Some 8.4 million Yemenis are also at risk of famine, according to OCHA.
In 2017, international donors provided $1.65 billion of the $2.34 billion requested by the UN and humanitarian partners in Yemen.


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

Updated 5 min 29 sec ago
0

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.