Russia moves to block Iran missile criticism in UN resolution on Yemen

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasilly Nebenzia talks with his US counterpart Nikki Haley before the start of a UN Security Council meeting concerning in Iran. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 26 February 2018
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Russia moves to block Iran missile criticism in UN resolution on Yemen

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Sunday was considering two draft resolutions on Yemen after Russia put forward a rival text aimed at blocking action against Iran over missiles sent to the country’s Houthi rebels.
The council is set to vote on Monday on renewing sanctions on Yemen for a year, but a British-drafted text also calls for “additional measures” in response to a UN report which found that Iran had violated the arms embargo on Yemen.
The rival Russian-drafted text presented to the council on Saturday and seen by AFP would extend the sanctions regime on Yemen until February 2019 without any reference to the UN report’s findings on Iran and possible action targeting Tehran.
Diplomats said Russia could veto the British text, allowing for a vote on its own draft resolution.
Negotiations were continuing on Sunday.
The report by a UN panel of experts concluded that Iran was in violation of the 2015 arms embargo after determining that missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran.
Russia maintains that the report’s findings are not conclusive enough to justify action against Iran.
Britain, backed by the United States and France, had initially sought to condemn Iran, but that was dropped in negotiations.
The last draft resolution expresses “particular concern” that “weapons of Iranian origin were introduced in Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo” and that Iran is in “non-compliance” with UN resolutions.
The council would express “its intention to take additional measures to address these violations,” according to the British-drafted text.
It adds that “any activity related to the use of ballistic missiles in Yemen” meets the criteria for imposing UN sanctions.
Iran has repeatedly denied arming the Houthis in Yemen, despite claims by the United States and Saudi Arabia that the evidence of an arms connection is irrefutable.
Russia, which has traditionally friendly relations with Iran, is providing military support along with Tehran to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Wednesday said the draft resolution should focus on renewing the mandate of sanctions monitors for Yemen instead of taking aim at Iran.
“It’s a resolution about the extension of the working group, not about Iran. So we should concentrate on extending the working group first,” he said.
While the report found that Tehran had violated the embargo by failing to block the shipments, the experts said they were unable to identify the supplier.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley is pushing for council action to rein in Iran and prevent the war in Yemen from escalating into a broader regional conflict.
In a New York Times editorial last week, Haley wrote that “the UN panel has given the world a chance to act before a missile hits a school or a hospital and leads to a dangerous military escalation that provokes a Saudi military response.”
A Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015 in a conflict that has led to what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Russia can block council action by using the veto power it enjoys as one of the five permanent Security Council members, along with Britain, China, France and the United States.


In Iraq, Angelina Jolie calls for focus on conflict prevention

Updated 20 June 2018
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In Iraq, Angelina Jolie calls for focus on conflict prevention

  • “I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together," she said
  • This was Jolie’s third visit to the camp as UNHCR special envoy

IRBIL: Hollywood star Angelina Jolie called Sunday for a larger focus on conflict prevention rather than responding to its repercussions, during a visit to Iraq with the UN refugee agency.
“I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together: so that we move into a new era of preventing conflict and reducing instability, rather than simply struggling to deal with its consequences,” Jolie told a news conference at the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
It was Jolie’s third visit to the camp as UNHCR special envoy, after previous visits in 2012 and 2016.
The Domiz camp opened in 2011 and is home to 40,000 Syrian refugees who fled the seven-year civil war across the border.
“When UNHCR’s Syria response was only 50 percent funded last year, and this year it is only 17 percent funded, there are terrible human consequences,” Jolie said.
“We should be under no illusion about this,” she added.
Late last month, the UN made an “urgent and critical” appeal for donations to its main budget for Syrian refugees after contributions pledged in April failed to trickle in.
“When there is not even the bare minimum of aid, refugee families cannot receive adequate medical treatment, women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity of being able to invest in refugees so that they can acquire new skills and support their families,” she said.
Her visit coincided with the third day of Eid Al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
On Saturday, Jolie visited western Mosul, held by Daesh terrorists for nearly three years until they were pushed out by Iraqi forces last summer.
During her visit, she walked through Mosul’s destroyed Old City, met with displaced families and spoke about reconstruction.
“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years with UNHCR,” Jolie said.
“It is deeply upsetting that people who have endured unparallelled brutality have so little as they try, somehow, to rebuild the lives they once had.”
The visit marked Jolie’s 61st mission — and fifth to Iraq — with the UN refugee agency since 2001.