Yemen govt delegation departs for Sweden peace talks

The departure of the delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the militia negotiating team. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 December 2018
0

Yemen govt delegation departs for Sweden peace talks

  • The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say
  • The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”

RIYADH: A Yemeni government delegation flew out of the Saudi capital Riyadh early Wednesday for high-stakes talks in Sweden with Houthi militia aimed at ending the country’s devastating war, sources close to the team told AFP.
The departure of the 12-member delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the rebel negotiating team.
The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say, as the international community throws its weight behind resolving the devastating conflict.
The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”, tweeted Abdullah al-Alimi, the head of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s office.
He added that the team would make efforts for the success of the talks, which are a “real chance for peace”.
The Houthi militia delegation arrived in Stockholm from Sanaa on Tuesday following a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of 50 wounded insurgents for treatment in Oman in a major boost to peace efforts.
Their team was accompanied by UN envoy Martin Griffiths.
Although no date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, Yemeni government sources say they could begin on Thursday.
A previous UN-brokered attempt to bring the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government to the negotiating table collapsed in Switzerland in September.


Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 30 min 9 sec ago
0

Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.