Blow to peace effort — Houthis ink deal with Saleh to run Yemen

Muhammad Ali al-Houthi, who heads the Houthi-run Supreme Revolutionary Committee (C), attends a demonstration by Houthi supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, on Thursday. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 28 July 2016
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Blow to peace effort — Houthis ink deal with Saleh to run Yemen

ADEN: Yemen’s Houthi rebels and ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s group on Thursday formed a 10-member “supreme council” to run Yemen, in what the government condemned as a blow to already stalled UN-brokered peace talks.
UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the move “contravenes” the rebels’ commitment to the peace process and “represents a grave violation” of the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
The Shiite Houthi rebels and the General People’s Congress of Saleh have agreed to “form a supreme political council of 10 members,” according to a statement carried by a rebel-run news agency.
It did not name the council’s members.
The job of the council will be to “manage state affairs politically, militarily, economically, administratively, socially and in security.”
The statement said the aim is to unify efforts to confront the UN-recognized government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
A Saudi-led alliance intervened in Yemen’s conflict in March 2015 to try to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power after the Houthis seized Sanaa and advanced on his temporary headquarters in Aden, forcing him to seek help from Saudi Arabia.

‘Clear violation’
Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who has been brokering 100 days of talks aimed at a peaceful settlement, said the move endangered the negotiations being held in Kuwait.
“This is a clear violation of the Yemeni constitution” as well as Resolution 2216, he said in a statement released in Kuwait.
The resolution calls on the Houthis to withdraw from territories they occupied in 2014, to hand over their arms and return state institutions to the legitimate government.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed, however, did not say if the rebels’ move would result in the suspension of the peace talks.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalek Al-Mikhlafi said it amounted to a “new coup” and accused the rebels of “missing an opportunity for peace.”
The rebels have “missed an opportunity for peace which the Yemeni people needed... and insisted on foiling the negotiations,” Mikhlafi said on his Twitter account.
“We call on the international community to condemn the new coup against the constitutional legitimacy and hold the Houthi-Saleh alliance responsible for foiling the talks,” he said.

Frustrated power grab
The rebels overran Sanaa in September 2014 and expanded their control to other parts of Yemen.
In February last year, they had set up a “Supreme Revolutionary Council” to run the country after they announced the dissolution of the government and parliament.
UN-sponsored talks between the rebels and representatives of Hadi’s government, which began on April 21, have failed to make headway.
The negotiations were launched after the United Nations secured an agreement on a cease-fire in the war-torn country.
The main stumbling block at the talks in Kuwait was the form of the government in Sanaa.
The Hadi government say that he is the legitimate head of state and should preside over a transitional period in the country.
But the rebels insist on forming a national unity government to oversee the transition.
More than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since the coalition intervened to restore Hadi’s government.
Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.


Hamas backs new Egyptian bid for Palestinian unity

Head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh. (AP)
Updated 38 sec ago
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Hamas backs new Egyptian bid for Palestinian unity

  • Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result
  • A previous Egyptian-brokered deal, signed by Hamas and Fatah in October 2017, collapsed on implementation

GAZA: The head of Gaza’s rulers Hamas has announced his backing for a new Egyptian-led push for reconciliation with the rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
The office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he had spoken with Egypt’s intelligence head Abbas Kamel to inform him of his movement’s backing for a fresh Egyptian-brokered push.
A statement from the movement said the two men discussed the “latest developments in the Palestinian issue and especially the reconciliation file and humanitarian projects for the people of the Gaza Strip.”
Haniyeh’s deputy Saleh Al-Arouri led a delegation to Cairo last week. So far Fatah has not officially responded to this fresh push for reconciliation.
A previous Egyptian-brokered deal, signed by Hamas and Fatah in October 2017, collapsed on implementation.
In March, the head of the Fatah-dominated West Bank government survived a roadside bomb hitting his convoy in a rare visit to Gaza, with his allies later accusing Hamas of planning the attack. It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.
The US has signaled its support for a fresh reconciliation push, but diplomats have little optimism.
Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result, leading to increased strife.
A year later, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza. Since then two separate Palestinian civil administrations emerged.