Mattis tells Saudi Crown Prince: Urgent need to find end to Yemen’s war

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Photo showing Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. (SPA)
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Photo showing Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman being received by Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. (SPA)
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Photo showing Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman being received by Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Mattis tells Saudi Crown Prince: Urgent need to find end to Yemen’s war

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday said Saudi Arabia was “part of the solution” in Yemen, where the Saudis are leading a US-supported military campaign against Houthi rebels.
Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was an urgent need to find a political solution to Yemen’s war, as he voiced hope for a UN special envoy’s peace efforts.

“We must also reinvigorate urgent efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the civil war in Yemen and we support you in this regard,” Mattis said, offering his firm backing to Riyadh.
Asked by reporters at the start of his talks whether he would raise the issue of civilian casualties in Yemen, Mattis said: “We are going to end this war, that is the bottom line. And we are going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen but also security for the nations in the peninsula.”
Mattis spoke at the start of a Pentagon meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is on a three-week US visit.

Earlier this week the Senate debated and then shelved a resolution calling for an end to US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Mattis had opposed the measure, saying it would be counterproductive by increasing civilian casualties, jeopardizing counterterrorism cooperation and emboldening Iran to increase its support for Houthi rebels.

During the photo-taking session with the crown prince, Mattis was asked by a reporter whether he would raise concerns about casualties in Yemen. Mattis said the US is working with the UN’s new envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths of Britain, in pursuit of a political solution to the civil war in Yemen.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia is part of the solution,” Mattis said. He added: “They have stood by the United Nations-recognized government, and we are going to end this war. That is the bottom line. And we are going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen but also security for the nations in the peninsula.”
In prepared remarks, Mattis said the US has a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia in fighting extremists and deterring malign activities by Iran. He said a political settlement in Yemen would protect Saudi Arabia and deny safe haven to terrorists.
“Your significant amounts of humanitarian aid is critical to help the innocent caught up in this conflict (and) we applaud you for that,” he told the crown prince.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that the meeting between the Saudi Crown Prince and Mattis discussed their countries’ strategic cooperation and means to improve bilateral relations according to Saudi  vision 2030. The two leaders also reviewed their efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, as well as ways to improve secutrity and stability in the Middle East region.

 


Kashmir shuts down over India’s ‘muscular policy’

Updated 39 min 53 sec ago
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Kashmir shuts down over India’s ‘muscular policy’

  • Activists angry over detention of rebel leader, suspension of border trade with Pakistan
  • Analysts said the arrest of activists was an attempt to sanitize the valley before polling day

NEW DELHI: Indian-controlled Kashmir observed a shutdown Tuesday over the alleged ill-treatment of a separatist leader and the suspension of border trade with Pakistan.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was taken into custody as part of a major crackdown following a February attack in Pulwama that killed dozens of Indian security personnel.

India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. The Pulwama attack brought both nations to the brink of war and tensions have been running high since.

Tuesday’s strike, called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), saw the shutdown of all shops, businesses and traffic in protest at his detention and ill-treatment.

There is also anger that border trade with Pakistan has been suspended after the Indian government said that many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani administration, had links to militant organizations.

“News about Yasin Malik being seriously ill and being shifted to a hospital in New Delhi is very disturbing,” JRL member Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Arab News.

“The people of Kashmir are concerned about his safety and well-being. It’s sad that even his family and his lawyer are not allowed to meet him. It’s the responsibility of the state, under whose detention he is in, to ensure his well-being. It is unfortunate that the state is dealing with the political issue of Kashmir with muscular and military policy alone. This will not yield anything apart from more anger and alienation on the ground. Look at the elections. The dismal turnout proves how disenchanted and alienated common masses feel today,” said Farooq, referring to the low turnout of Kashmir voters in India’s mammoth general election.

Analysts said the arrest of activists was an attempt to sanitize the valley before polling day.

India has had three phases in its election and participation in Kashmir has been poor, with some suggesting a turnout of 15 percent compared to 34 percent in 2014.

The JRL said the shutdown was also a condemnation of the alleged “ongoing aggression of central investigation agencies against Kashmiri leaders, activists, senior businessmen, trade union leaders, kith and kin of resistance leaders and other people belonging to different walks of life.”

Its statement called the closure of the national highway for two days a week “undemocratic ... and a gross human rights violation.”

The JRL slammed the suspension of border trade and said it was putting “the lives and economy of thousands into jeopardy.”

Srinagar-based rights activists Parvez Imroz said what was happening in Kashmir amounted to political and economic repression.

“By suspending trade at the border many lives are at stake,” he told Arab News. “People who have invested heavily in business are staring at an uncertain future. The government is not leaving any breathing space for the people of Kashmir.”

He added that, despite the Indian government’s tactics and firepower, people had not been motivated to cast their vote.

“Kashmir is not a democracy but an occupation. How can you expect people to respond when New Delhi behaves like a colonial power?”

But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said separatists had no right to question the government about the treatment of Kashmiri leaders.

“The separatist leaders never treated their own people well. They always tortured people who defied them. How come they expect good treatment at the hands of the Indian government?” Hina Bhat, a BJP leader in Srinagar, told Arab News.

She defended the ban on border trade, saying it could not continue unless the relationship between India and Pakistan normalized. She also put a positive spin on polling day, saying it was a success because it was “casualty-free.”

“No doubt people have some grudges and they are not happy with the previous government, but there is no need for disappointment as poll rates in other parts of the state have been good,” she added.