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

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He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday.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.

Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 7 min 50 sec ago

Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined Arab states on Tuesday in condemning a decision by the United States to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Breaking decades of international consensus, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Saudi Arabia firmly rejected the decision and affirmed its position that Golan Heights was occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The declaration, made by the US, is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the report said.

The US decision was a violation of Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981, and would have devastating implications on the peace process in the Middle East, as well as security and stability in the region, Saudi Arabia’s official statement said.

Saudi Arabia called on all parties to respect the decisions of international legitimacy and the charter of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory,

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.