UAE official calls on international community to pressure Yemen’s Houthi to evacuate Hodeidah

Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that his country is deeply concerned by reports coming out of Hodeidah. (File Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP)
Updated 13 June 2018

UAE official calls on international community to pressure Yemen’s Houthi to evacuate Hodeidah

  • Gargash: The Houthis cannot hold Hodeidah hostage to finance their war and divert the flow of humanitarian aid.
  • Gargash: We gave UN special envoy Martin Griffiths 48 hours to convince the Houthis to withdraw from the port and city of Hodeidah.

ABU DHABI: The UAE has called on the international community to pressure Iran-backed Houthi militias to withdraw peacefully from Hodeidah, and to leave its port intact. 
Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that his country is deeply concerned by reports coming out of Hodeidah. 

“I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Hodeida about the Houthi response to international calls for their peaceful retreat”, noting the Houthi militias reaction shows ‘the real and ugly face of their policy.” 

Gargash added on his official Twitter account that “their use of land & sea mines shows a cruel & callous disregard for Yemeni lives.” 

In his tweets, Gargash reiterated that “the current and illegal Houthi occupation of Hodeidah is prolonging the Yemeni war, and the liberation of the city and port will create a new reality and bring the Houthis to the negotiations.”

Gargash also said that “the Houthis cannot hold Hodeidah hostage to finance their war and divert the flow of humanitarian aid. Their assault on the Yemeni people has continued for too long.” 

Earlier, Gargash said that an ultimatum for the United Nations to convince the Iran backed Houthi movement to evacuate Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah expired on Tuesday night.
The Saudi-led coalition, which the UAE is part of, is gearing up for an assault on Hodeidah, preparing to launch by far the biggest battle of a three-year-old war between an alliance of Arab states and the Iran backed Houthi militia that controls Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Hodeidah, the only Yemeni port controlled by the Houthis, serves as a lifeline channeling food, medicines and other vital imports to the majority of Yemenis who live in Houthi-ruled territory.
“We gave UN special envoy Martin Griffiths 48 hours to convince the Houthis to withdraw from the port and city of Hodeidah,” Anwar Gargash, Minister of State  told France’s Le Figaro newspaper.
“We are awaiting his response. These 48 hours expire during the night of Tuesday and Wednesday.”

The United Nations said it was engaged in “intense” shuttle diplomacy between the Houthis and coalition leaders Saudi Arabia and the UAE to avert an all-out attack.
“If the Houthis don’t get out of Hodeidah city and the port, the UAE will start a military operation against the rebels in Hodeidah,” Gargash was quoted as saying by the French daily.
“Thanks to them controlling the port of Hodeidah, they are getting financing, which allows them to get weapons, such as missiles that are then fired on Saudi Arabia.”

Amid the diplomatic efforts to avert a worsening of an already desperate humanitarian crisis in Yemen, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Macron’s office said.
 

 

 


Turkey turns to West amid Idlib escalation

Updated 53 min 17 sec ago

Turkey turns to West amid Idlib escalation

  • Ankara calls for Patriot missile systems to be deployed along border with Syria

ANKARA: The unfolding crisis in Syria’s Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold, is pushing Turkey to improve its relations with the West.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib on Thursday in an airstrike by the Syrian regime. The following day, in a phone call with his French and German counterparts, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for “concrete action” to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Idlib.
Erdogan “stressed the need to stop the aggression of the regime and its supporters in Idlib, and emphasized the importance of providing strong support through concrete actions to prevent a humanitarian crisis,” his office said.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Thursday to Russian President Vladimir Putin to express their concern about the humanitarian crisis and to urge an end to the escalating fighting in Idlib.
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told Arab News: “Despite many differences between Turkey and EU member states on foreign policy issues ranging from northeast Syria to Libya, they’re stakeholders in preventing a humanitarian disaster in Idlib and a new wave of refugees from Syria to Turkey and Europe.”
He said it would be out of the question for Western countries to send troops to Idlib, but they could provide Turkey with political support and Patriot surface-to-air missile systems close to the border with Syria.
“A declaration of commitment to improving the livelihoods of residents in Idlib after the regime offensive is averted should also be in the mix,” he added.
“A follow-up of the quadripartite meeting between the leaders of France, Germany, Turkey and the UK, this time in Turkey, would be a very good platform for announcing solidarity with Turkey.”
Turkish, French, German and British leaders convened in London last December ahead of a NATO Summit to discuss the Syrian crisis. They agreed to meet at least once a year.
Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat and co-founder of People Demand Change Inc., told Arab News: “Nobody considers the humanitarian crisis a top priority right now. The humanitarian tool has become the price of the ongoing struggle among the powers in the region.”
He said any potential summit between Turkey and EU leaders should focus on the refugee issue because of the influx of civilians in Idlib fleeing from Russian-backed bombings toward the Turkish border.
“EU leaders should agree to provide Turkey with more financial assistance to absorb the refugees, and must put more pressure on Russia to stop the Idlib operation,” he added.
“EU countries also should push for a serious political settlement, otherwise every time Russia has a conflict with Turkey, another crisis will come up.”
But Oubai Shahbandar, an Istanbul-based defense analyst, told Arab News: “Macron and Merkel have zero impact on either the balance of power in Syria or the humanitarian catastrophe that’s unfolding in Idlib. I doubt that Macron and Merkel will take any steps to counter Russian aggression in northwest Syria.”
Shahbandar said: “Summits have displayed their futility in achieving anything concrete in preventing Russia, Iran and the Assad regime from continuing their campaign of wholescale massacre in Syria.”
He added: “A bilateral US-Turkey understanding on Idlib will probably prove to be the only viable option in preventing disaster at this point.”
Meanwhile, Ankara has urged the US and other NATO members to deploy Patriots along the Turkish border to thwart any attacks from Syrian territory. No decision has yet been made by Washington. 
Germany withdrew its Patriots from Turkey five years ago. Spain is currently the only European NATO member with Patriots at Turkey’s southern Incirlik air base, which has been used in the past to support the US-led coalition’s operations against Daesh in Syria.