Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Iran

Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Iran
UN members prepare to vote on British-drafted resolution condemning Iran for supplying missiles to Yemen. (Screenshot)
Updated 27 February 2018

Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Iran

Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Iran

UNITED NATIONS: Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, lashed out at Russia and threatened “to take actions” against it on Monday, after Moscow vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Iran for supporting Houthi militia in Yemen.
Haley blasted Russia for blocking censure of Tehran, saying it flew in the face of a report by a panel of UN experts, which found that Iran had failed to stop the transfer of drone and ballistic missile technology to the Houthis.
“If Russia is going to use its veto to block action against Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing conduct, then the United States and our partners will need to take actions against Iran that the Russians cannot block,” Haley warned, after the vote.
Although the British-drafted document was blocked on Monday, the 15-member council unanimously adopted a rival, Russian-proposed text that did not name Iran and extended a targeted sanctions regime over Yemen’s civil war until 2019. 
The British-drafted document won 11 favourable votes at the 15-member Security Council but was blocked by Russia’s veto. China and Kazakhstan abstained, while Bolivia joined Moscow in voting against the measure.
The 329-page report by a UN panel of experts was formally released this month and concluded that Iran had violated a 2015 arms embargo after determining that missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran.
Russia says the report’s findings are not conclusive enough to justify censure of Iran. While the report found that Tehran had broken the embargo by not blocking shipments, the experts said they could not identify the supplier.
“We cannot concur with uncorroborated conclusions and evidence which requires verification and discussions within the sanctions committee,” Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told council members after deploying the veto.
“There’s a grave danger of toying with geopolitical maps, including with the use of the most volatile material, namely relations in the Islamic world, and relations between the Sunnis and Shiites,” he added, referencing two branches of Islam.
Saudi Arabia leads an Arab coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally recognized government against the Iran-allied Houthi militia.
Sigurd Neubauer, a Washington based Gulf expert, told Arab News the spat between Russia and the western council members was a “game-changer” for the UN council, as it marked the first major division on Yemen.
“Until recently, the council was not divided on Yemen. Now that US President Donald Trump is pushing Iran and not accommodating Russia, the Yemen issue is becoming part of the wider US-Russia strategic competition,” Neubauer said.
“Going forward, this new dynamic between Washington and Moscow will complicate the already difficult UN peace process for Yemen. It marks a strategic failure on the part of Trump administration.”
James Farwell, a former Pentagon advisor, told Arab News that Britain, the US and other western powers were getting behind Riyadh with a view to constraining Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East.
“The Western partners are falling in behind Saudi Arabia out of concern that the Houthis do have a closer relationship with Iran,” Farwell said. “It’s about what can be done to checkmate Iranian expansion.”
Russia, which is aligned with Iran in its support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, shows no signs of getting seriously involved in Yemen, but is seizing an opportunity to thwart its western rivals without investing any resources, Farwell, an expert connected with the Middle East Institute, said.
“Moscow is happy to sew chaos and disrupt what the US and its allies are doing,” said Farwell.
“But they are also treading careful because they’re wooing Saudi Arabia, which is a potential market for their arm sales and a country they could forge a stronger relationship with by raising suspicion that the US is not a reliable ally.”


Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2020, a Libyan stands in front of a school, which was damaged during fighting between rival factions, in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
  • Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement

TRIPOLI: Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled on Saturday under a UN-backed cease-fire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.

Satellite images broadcast by CNN show a trench running tens of kilometers dug by “Russian mercenaries” near the frontline coastal city of Sirte, as main foreign protagonists Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement.
An unidentified US intelligence official, quoted by the American news network, said there was “no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement.”
“This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and cease-fire. It will be a really difficult year ahead,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged all “regional and international actors to respect the provisions” of the Oct. 23 cease-fire accord that set out a withdrawal within three months of all foreign troops and mercenaries.
That deadline passed on Saturday, with no movement announced or observed on the ground.
The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli and military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of Russia.
Guterres called on all parties to implement the terms of the cease-fire “without delay,” something he noted “includes ensuring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, and the full and unconditional respect of the Security Council arms embargo,” which has been in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

HIGHLIGHT

The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions.

Any withdrawal or end to foreign interference “does not depend on the Libyans but on the outside powers,” said Khaled Al-Montasser, professor of international relations at Tripoli University.
Turkey on Friday welcomed a deal reached at UN-backed talks for Libya’s warring factions to set up an interim executive to rule the North African country until polls in December.
Turkey has backed the GNA with military advisers, materiel and mercenaries, repelling an advance on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces, and it also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.
Last December, parliament in Ankara extended by 18 months its authorization for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the cease-fire deal.
“The mercenaries are unlikely to leave Libya so long as the countries which have engaged them have not guaranteed their interests in the new transitional phase,” said Montasser, referring to the multiple tracks of UN-sponsored talks currently underway.
“Their presence keeps alive the threat of military confrontation at any moment, while the current calm staying in place seems uncertain,” he said.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte, at Al-Jufra airbase held by Haftar’s forces 500 km south of Tripoli and further west in Al-Watiya.