UAE announces pause in offensive on Yemen’s Hodeidah

“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter. (AFP)
Updated 01 July 2018
0

UAE announces pause in offensive on Yemen’s Hodeidah

  • “We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port”
  • “We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed”

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced a pause in the offensive it is backing against Houthi rebels in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, to give a chance to UN peace efforts.
“We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed.”
The announcement comes after Griffiths met with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose troops are battling the Houthi rebels for control of the Red Sea port city, earlier this week.


Hadi demanded a full rebel withdrawal from the city, which has been the target of a weeks-long military offensive by the Yemeni government and its regional allies, led by the UAE on the ground.
Diplomatic sources have said Griffiths has been pushing for the Iran-backed Houthis to cede control of the port to the United Nations and there have been some reports they have agreed.


The Houthis have controlled the western city of Hodeidah, and its port, since 2014, when they drove the Hadi government out of the capital and seized large swathes of northern Yemen.
On June 13, the UAE and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, launched a massive military operation — dubbed “Golden Victory” — to drive the rebels out of the Hodeidah port.
Some 70 percent of imports to Yemen, where eight million people face imminent famine, flow through the port of Hodeidah.
The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile members of Yemen’s army captured 30 Houthi militia as they attempted to attack an area previously liberated south of Hodeidah.


Tunisia’s ‘truth commission’ winds up four-year mission

Updated 48 min 2 sec ago
0

Tunisia’s ‘truth commission’ winds up four-year mission

  • The commission, whose mandate was extended in the spring until the end of 2018
  • At the end of November, the commission drew up criteria for compensation that exclude those with post-2011 government

TUNIS: After four years working “under fire” and interviewing almost 50,000 witnesses, Tunisia’s commission tasked with serving justice to victims of half a century of dictatorship is poised to submit its recommendations.

Set up in 2014 following the 2011 revolution and in the wake of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall, the Truth and Dignity Institute has a mission to “reveal the truth about the human rights violations” in Tunisia between 1955 and 2013.

In its final act, the commission will submit its recommendations to Tunisia’s leadership.

The first version is to be delivered at a public event on Friday and Saturday, before the full report is submitted by Dec. 31.

The government, with the assistance of a parliamentary follow-up committee, will have one year to draw up an action plan based on the recommendations.

The commission’s task was to collect and disseminate testimonies, send some of those suspected of rape, murder, torture or corruption to specialised courts, and recommend measures to prevent any recurrence.

Operating in the only Arab Spring country which has kept to a democratic path since the 2011 revolt, its mandate has also been to seek national reconciliation through a revival of the North African state’s collective memory.

The commission, whose mandate was extended in the spring until the end of 2018, has been studying more than 60,000 complaints and has this year sent dozens of cases to the courts.

Over the past four years, the panel has heard harrowing testimony from victims of torture in jail, some of which has been aired to large television audiences.

“From the very start we’ve worked under fire and come up against difficulties, due to the absence of political will,” commission official Khaled Krichi told AFP.

He said demands for the handover of judicial cases involving corruption had been rejected, as well as for archive materials from the Interior Ministry on prisoners who had suffered torture.

A contested amnesty law passed in 2017 cleared some officials suspected of administrative corruption.

The commission also faced political resistance with the return of former regime leaders to power, internal disputes as well as the lack of cooperation by state institutions.

Thirteen specialized courts have been set up and started work at the end of May on dozens of cases submitted by the commission.

Twenty trials are underway, mostly of victims of the 2011 revolution and of radical and leftist opposition figures tortured under the rule of Ben Ali or his predecessor Habib Bourguiba.

Krichi said settlements have been reached in 10 cases of financial corruption involving former regime figures, including that of Slim Chiboub, a son-in-law of Ben Ali, who has agreed to pay back 307 million dinars ($113 million).

The state, however, faced with accusations of torture and sexual violence, has rejected 1,000 demands for “reconciliation” with the victims. A row has also broken out over compensation cases, with members of Parliament claiming the costs would bankrupt the state and that many claims were designed to benefit supporters of extremist movement Ennahdha.

At the end of November, the commission drew up criteria for compensation that exclude those with post-2011 government or parliamentary posts.

Around 25,000 people are eligible to compensation from the Al-Karama (Dignity) Fund established in 2014, according to Krichi.

It is being financed by donations, a percentage of the funds recovered through settlements and a one-time government grant of 10 million dinars ($3.7 million).