UN’s Yemen envoy pushes for new peace talks as fighting continues

UN envoy Martin Griffiths attends a news conference on Yemen talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland September 8, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2018

UN’s Yemen envoy pushes for new peace talks as fighting continues

SANAA: The UN’s Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths has met the country’s Houthi rebels in a push for new peace talks, as fighting continued Friday around the strategic port city of Hodeidah.
Griffiths traveled to the Omani capital Muscat to meet the rebels after they refused to attend negotiations in Geneva last week.
Mohammed Abdulsalam, head of the Houthi delegation, and fellow rebel official Abdelmalak Al-Ajri discussed the reasons for their absence from Geneva with the United Nations envoy, the rebel-run Saba news agency said.
The first negotiations between Yemen’s warring sides in two years were scheduled to start last Thursday, but a Yemeni government delegation left after the Houthis decided not to attend.
The rebels had accused the UN of failing to guarantee the return of their delegation from Switzerland to the Yemeni capital Sanaa and to secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.
This Thursday’s discussions also covered the “necessary measures” needed for fresh talks set for “as soon as possible,” Saba reported.
Hamid Assem, a member of the Houthi delegation, told AFP on Friday there had been no breakthrough.
“There has not been progress regarding the discussions while we have not received the guarantees,” he said by phone.
Griffiths is also scheduled to visit the Yemeni capital Sanaa, held by the Houthis, and the Arab Coalition fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.
The last talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, led by President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, took place in Kuwait in 2016.
Those negotiations faltered over power-sharing and the rebel withdrawal from key cities including Sanaa.
They collapsed after 108 days and the rebel delegation was subsequently stranded in Oman for three months due to a coalition air blockade.
After the failure of the Geneva talks, deadly clashes resumed around the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah, a vital entry point for aid.
Sixteen rebels died in a coalition air strike in the far south of the city on Thursday evening, according to military and medical sources in the province.
Three pro-government fighters were killed the same evening when a military vehicle was hit by a shell to the east of Hodeidah city.
Over 60 people have died in fighting around Hodeidah since Wednesday, when Yemeni government forces said they seized two major supply routes into the port city.
The Houthis launched a counter-offensive on Thursday to retake the roads, which link Hodeidah to Sanaa, military sources told AFP.
“Sporadic fighting took place on Friday in various areas around the city,” said a government military source.
The UN said Friday the situation around Hodeidah was “alarming” and threatened aid deliveries.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it was “extremely concerned about the series of security incidents in Hodeidah city,” saying they affected “sites critical for the humanitarian response in Yemen.”

Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a blast in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2018

Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

  • The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News

BEIRUT: Pro-Hezbollah politicians in south Beirut were accused of provocation on Tuesday for naming a street after the assassin who plotted the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

To rub salt in the wound, the street is adjacent to the city’s Rafiq Hariri University Hospital. Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, described the decision by Ghobeiry municipality as “sedition.” 

Hezbollah commander and bomb-maker Mustafa Badreddine was described last week by the prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague as “the main conspirer” in the assassination of Hariri, who died when his motorcade was blown up in central Beirut in February 2005. Badreddine himself was murdered in Damascus in 2016.

The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News.

“There is no precedent for resorting to these methods in naming streets, especially when the name is the subject of political and sectarian dispute between the people of Lebanon and may pose a threat to security and public order.”

A Future Movement official said: “What has happened proves that Hezbollah has an absurd mentality. There are people in Lebanon who care about the country, and others who don’t. This group considers the murderers of Rafiq Hariri its heroes, but they are illusory heroes.”