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.

 


Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

In this handout photo taken and released by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department on July 19, 2019, Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (2L) meets Sonbhadra massacre victims at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Trauma Centre in Varanasi. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2019
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Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

  • Priyanka Gandhi’s protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families

NEW DELHI: A political standoff over detained Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi ended on Saturday after she was allowed to meet relatives of 10 people killed in a caste clash in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress general secretary and sister of outgoing party president Rahul Gandhi was detained in Mirzapur on Friday while traveling to Sonbhadra to visit family members of 10 people shot and killed in a land dispute a day earlier.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Yogi Adityanath, detained Gandhi for violating the peace and stopped her from traveling further. The Congress leader then began a sit-in protest with her supporters at the Mirzapur guest house where she was held.
Her protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families. Television images showed Gandhi sitting in the dark after power and water supplies in the guest house were allegedly cut off by the local administration.
Her presence in the area, which also falls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Varanasi, galvanized Congress workers who staged protests across the state.
Early on Saturday, relatives of some of the victims visited the guest house to meet the 47-year-old leader of the Gandhi-Nehru family, India’s pre-eminent political dynasty.
“My objective has been served as I have met the victims of the shooting,” said Gandhi before calling off her protest.
“The responsibility for the Sonbhadra massacre lies with the Yogi government,” she said.
Gandhi told her supporters, “I will be back,” before flying to New Delhi.
The BJP has accused the Congress leader of playing politics over the shootings.
“Congress has a history of playing politics over dead bodies,” said Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP president in Uttar Pradesh.
“The drama should stop. That is what I will say to Priyanka. All the accused have been arrested, and the officials responsible have been suspended,” he said.
The fatal shootings in Sonbhadra, 800 km southeast of New Delhi, drew mainstream media attention only when the Congress leader arrived in the state.
Observers say that the killing of 10 socially marginalized and landless tribes people by members of the dominant caste has highlighted the fragile caste situation in India’s most populous state.
The people of Gond tribe have been working the disputed land for generations. According to reports, the village head wanted tribes people to vacate the farm land. This led to conflict, and on Friday more than 200 armed men attacked the helpless villagers, killing 10 and injuring several others.
Gandhi, who entered politics only a few months before the general elections in May this year, seized the opportunity to connect with the people.
For the BJP, Uttar Pradesh is the jewel in the crown. The state gave the party 62 of its 303 parliamentary seats, and it is determined to maintain its political grip.
Political analysts say that Gandhi is determined to revive the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh by 2022 when the state goes to the polls.
“Priyanka Gandhi handled the Sonbhadra incident in a mature way, exposing the ham-fisted attitude of the Yogi government,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based analyst and author.
“She also managed to expose the BJP’s class bias  and how the ruling party is protecting the interests of  dominant caste in the state,” said Mukhopadhyay.
“This incident gives the party a chance to go back to the people immediately after the huge loss in the elections,” Mukhopadhyay told Arab News.
Lucknow-based political analyst Ram Dutt Tripathi said that Gandhi has “shown her courage as a political leader willing to fight administrative injustice.”
“Her detention was illegal and the Congress has high hopes that she can lead the revival of the party,” said Tripathi.
“It is unfortunate that the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not visited relatives of the victims so far and is putting restrictions on political opponents who want to stand with them,” he said.