Saudi Arabia’s King Salman invites UN chief to Ethiopia, Eritrea peace summit

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend a concert in Addis Ababa, after signing an initial declaration of peace, in July. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman invites UN chief to Ethiopia, Eritrea peace summit

  • The two countries, 20 years after commencing what turned into a protracted border war, announced a cessation of hostilities two months ago
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will host the signing ceremony in Jeddah to be attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has invited UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to attend the signing of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Jeddah, according to Al-Arabiya.
The two countries, 20 years after commencing what turned into a protracted border war, announced a cessation of hostilities two months ago.
Ethiopia and Eritrea will attend the summit in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to sign an agreement cementing the thaw between the two former Horn of Africa enemies, a UN spokesman said Friday.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will host the signing ceremony in Jeddah to be attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq did not provide details, saying the Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders would sign a “further agreement helping to cement the positive relations between them.”
On Tuesday, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea reopened two land border crossing points for the first time in 20 years, clearing the way for trade between the two nations.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki signed a declaration of peace in July that formally ended two decades of hostility.
Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.
A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute for good, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.
A turnaround began in June when Abiy announced that Ethiopia would hand back to Eritrea the disputed areas including the flashpoint town of Badme where the first shots of the border war were fired.


Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.