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

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.

Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

Updated 16 February 2019

Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday suggested the mosque in Athens should open with minarets if the Greek premier wants to reopen a seminary in Istanbul.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Turkey this month and visited the disputed landmarks of Hagia Sophia and the now-closed Greek Orthodox Halki seminary.
Tsipras said during the visit to the seminary located on Heybeli island off Istanbul on February 6 he hoped to reopen the school next time with Erdogan.
Future priests of the Constantinople diocese had been trained at the seminary, which was closed in 1971 after tensions between Ankara and Athens over Cyprus.
Erdogan on Saturday complained that the Fethiye Mosque in Athens had no minarets despite Greek insistence that it would open.
The mosque was built in 1458 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece but has not been used as a mosque since 1821.
“Look you want something from us, you want the Halki seminary. And I tell you (Greece), come, let’s open the Fethiye Mosque,” Erdogan said during a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne ahead of local elections on March 31.
“They said, ‘we are opening the mosque’ but I said, why isn’t there a minaret? Can a church be a church without a bell tower?” he said, describing his talks with Tsipras.
“We say, you want to build a bell tower? Come and do it... But what is an essential part of our mosques? The minarets,” the Turkish president added.
Erdogan said Tsipras told him he was wary of criticism from the Greek opposition.
After the independence war against Ottomans began in 1821, the minaret is believed by some to have been destroyed because it was a symbol of the Ottoman occupation.
Ankara had returned land taken from the seminary in 1943 but there is still international pressure on Turkey to reopen it.
Erdogan has previously said that its reopening is dependent on reciprocal steps from Greece to enhance the rights of the Turkish minority.