Houthis accused of firing at UN monitor Patrick Cammaert’s convoy in Yemen’s Hodeidah

Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert (C), who is leading a joint committee, which includes both government and rebel representatives, tasked with overseeing a truce in the Red Sea port city and the withdrawal of both parties, speaks with an official in the port city of Hodeidah on January 13, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Houthis accused of firing at UN monitor Patrick Cammaert’s convoy in Yemen’s Hodeidah

  • The UN said that Cammaert and his team were safe following the "reported shooting incident"
  • Earlier, the Houthis prevented retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert from leaving his residence

LONDON: A convoy of UN ceasefire monitors in Yemen was hit with small arms fire in eastern Hodeidah Thursday in an attack blamed on the Houthi militia.

A car was hit with one round as they returned to the city center from a meeting with a delegation from the legitimate Yemeni government, a UN spokesman said.
"We do not have information as to the source of the fire," Stephane Dujarric said.

The attack on the monitors, led by Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, was "a significant development,” Yemeni government spokesman Rajih Bady said, accusing the Houthis of being responsible.

The UN said Cammaert and his team were safe following the "reported shooting incident."

 

Cammaert, who is the the head of the UN mission in Yemen charged with monitoring the Hodeidah ceasefire, was not in the vehicle that was hit and he and his team returned to their base safely, Dujarric said.

"I can assure you that general Cammaert and his team are supplied with the strongest possible security measures the UN can supply," he said.
"But it is important to add that all the parties in Yemen are also responsible for the safety of all UN personnel in Yemen. We are dealing with a highly volatile environment in Hodeidah."

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman said: "KSA strongly condemns the targeting of UN personnel by the Iran backed Houthi militia in Yemen, who have violated their signed commitments in Stockholm and continue to flout International Law and escalate their aggression against the Yemeni people," in a tweet on Friday. 

Cammaert has been in Hodeidah since late December trying to get the internationally recognized government and the Houthi militia to strengthen a cease-fire negotiated in Sweden last month and agree to arrangements for the redeployment of their forces.

Earlier, the Houthis prevented Cammaert, head of the Joint Coordination Committee, to monitor the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, from leaving his residence to meet representatives of the Yemeni government, Al Arabiya reported.

A source in the committee explained that a meeting was scheduled to take place between Cammaert and government representatives at a designated site in Hodeidah.

The UN Security Council approved this week to bolster the mission with a deployment of up to 75 monitors.

The unarmed monitors would be sent to the Hodeidah and its port along with the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa for an initial period of six months.

The port of Hodeida is the entry point for the bulk of Yemen's supplies of imported goods and humanitarian aid.

Talks between the government and Houthis last month in Sweden on ending the devastating war led to an agreement on the observer force.

The first group of about 20 monitors was authorized by the council last month to begin work in Yemen, but their mandate expires on Jan. 20.

The new resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to "expeditiously" deploy the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA). 

The UN says a ceasefire that went into force on Dec. 18 in Hodeida has been generally holding, but there have been delays in the redeployment of rebel and government forces from the city.


US targets two individuals, three entities in Hezbollah-related sanctions program

Updated 1 min 48 sec ago
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US targets two individuals, three entities in Hezbollah-related sanctions program

  • Targeted for sanctions under US regulations aimed at suspected terrorists or those who support them
  • Comes at a time of growing US concern about role of Hezbollah in Lebanese government

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Treasury, moving to boost pressure on Hezbollah, imposed sanctions on Wednesday against two people and three firms that Washington accuses of being involved in schemes to help the armed Shi'ite group backed by Iran evade American sanctions.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it was targeting Belgium-based Wael Bazzi because he acted on behalf of his father Mohammad Bazzi, a Hezbollah financier.

OFAC also took action against two Belgian companies and a British-based firm controlled by Bazzi.

In addition, the US Treasury designated Lebanon-based Hassan Tabaja, who it said had acted on behalf of his brother Adham Tabajha, also a Hezbollah financier. The U.S. action freezes their assets and property and prevents U.S. citizens and businesses from dealing with them.

The two men and three businesses were targeted for sanctions under US regulations aimed at suspected terrorists or those who support them, the Treasury said in a statement. Hezbollah is considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

"Treasury is relentlessly pursuing Hezbollah's financial facilitators by dismantling two of Hezbollah's most important financial networks," Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker said in a statement.

"By targeting Hassan Tabaja and Wael Bazzi and their European-based companies, this administration is continuing to disrupt all avenues of financial support relied upon by Hezbollah," he said.

The US State Department earlier this week offered a reward of up to $10 million for information that could help disrupt Hezbollah's financing.

The move to boost pressure on the group comes at a time of growing US concern about its role in the Lebanese government. Hezbollah's regional clout has expanded as it has sent fighters to Middle East conflicts, including the war in Syria, where it supported President Bashar al-Assad.