UN Yemen envoy: Next negotiation stage depends on success of redeployment in Hodeidah

Martin Griffiths (C), the UN special envoy for Yemen, arrives at Sanaa international airport in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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UN Yemen envoy: Next negotiation stage depends on success of redeployment in Hodeidah

LONDON: The next round of negotiations on the Yemen crisis depends on the success of redeploying troops from Hodeidah, the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said Friday. 

Under a ceasefire agreement in December, the Houthi militants were meant to withdraw from position in the port city that has become the focal point of the war.

Griffiths said he was working hard to overcome all obstacles in releasing Yemeni prisoners, and that slow but steady progress is being made to stop the conflict in Yemen.

The UN envoy added during an interview on Al Arabiya TV that he was confident direct negotiations between parties involved in the conflict would take place, and that it is very important that the first stage of redepolyment in Hodeidah is implemented successfully.  

He explained that redeployment in Hodeidah includes the withdrawal of Houthi militias from the ports of Ras Issa and Salif, noting that "Yemeni parties want to implement the (Stockholm) agreement, but they need a scheme from the monitoring committee."

Meanwhile, the coordinator of the panel of experts on Yemen Ahmed Himmiche said that smugglers and fictitious companies are working with the Houthis to transport oil from Iran.

Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Yemen’s government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition, and the Houthi militias have demonstrated that they are able to deliver on commitments they made in December in Stockholm by agreeing on the first phase of redeployment from three key ports.

He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will be followed by a pullout from the major port of Hodeidah and critical parts of the city that will allow access to the Red Sea Mills, a major UN storage facility holding enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, he said.


Syria's return to Arab League not on summit agenda: spokesman

Updated 39 min 50 sec ago
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Syria's return to Arab League not on summit agenda: spokesman

  • The pan-Arab bloc, which is set to hold its annual summit in Tunisia on March 31, froze Syria's membership in November 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protestors
  • But several of the bloc's other 21 members have recently renewed ties with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad

CAIRO: The Arab League said Sunday it was not planning to discuss reinstating Syria's membership at a summit later this month, more than eight years after suspending it as the country descended into war.
The pan-Arab bloc, which is set to hold its annual summit in Tunisia on March 31, froze Syria's membership in November 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protestors.
But several of the bloc's other 21 members have recently renewed ties with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and some have called for Syria to be re-admitted to the league.
"The issue of Syria's return to the Arab League has yet to be listed on the agenda and has not been formally proposed," said the League's spokesman Mahmoud Afifi.
He noted that the "Syrian crisis" however still tops the agenda, along with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the situation in Yemen and Libya.
Syria's conflict flared in 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that sparked a brutal regime crackdown.
It has since drawn in regional powers, killing 370,000 people and displacing millions.
But the regime, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has since re-conquered much of the territory it had lost to rebels and terrorists, and now controls some two-thirds of the country.
Syria's Kurds, which declared victory over Daesh on Saturday, control much of the oil-rich northeast, which the regime has hinted it may seize back in a military operation.
Earlier this month, Syrian officials attended a meeting of Arab states in neighbouring Jordan for the first time since the country's Arab League membership was suspended.
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in December made the first visit of any Arab leader to the Syrian capital since 2011.
The same month, Egypt hosted Syria's national security chief and top Assad aide Ali Mamluk.
The UAE also reopened its Damascus embassy in a major sign of a diplomatic thaw.
Arab states have also slammed US President Donald Trump's call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic territory the Jewish state seized from Syria in 1967.