Yemeni PM: Some of Griffiths’ ideas are good whilst others not so much

Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher. (AFP)
Updated 07 September 2018

Yemeni PM: Some of Griffiths’ ideas are good whilst others not so much

  • The United Nations announced on Thursday that Griffiths was not expected to hold any talks at its Geneva offices on Friday.
  • Griffiths, who began consultations with the Yemen government delegation in Geneva on Thursday, still awaits representatives of the Iranian-allied Houthi movement from the capital Sanaa.

LONDON: Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher said that the Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths had presented some good ideas to resolve the crisis in the country but that he had “made mistakes with others.”
Talking to Asharq Al-Awsat, bin Dagher said that he appreciates Griffiths’ efforts to find a solution to the crisis, and that the peace process in Yemen is complicated.
Yemen’s Prime Minister continued by saying that the peace process depended on the implementation of the Gulf Initiative, the outcome of national dialogue and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2216.
Commenting on the recent ideas submitted by Griffiths regarding a solution to the Yemeni crisis, the prime minister said that some of them “hit the mark” whilst others did not.
Bin Dagher noted that Griffiths wanted a partial solution in Hodeidah and that he informed the UN envoy that partial solutions would not succeed if they were not linked to “permanent, comprehensive, and just solutions” to the crisis.
He continued by saying that Griffiths wanted a cease-fire but that the Yemeni government told him that they would not accept that unless the Houthis accepted military and security measures before political solutions.
Asked whether the Yemeni government would accept any initiatives for an eighth truce along with confidence-building measures, Bin Dagher stated: “We have given the Houthis many opportunities, many truces. They always ask for a truce and when they got one, they would use it to strengthen their positions on the fronts and to obtain weapons and ammunition.”
Griffiths, who began consultations with the Yemen government delegation in Geneva on Thursday, still awaits representatives of the Iranian-allied Houthi movement from the capital Sanaa, UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said Friday.
“He is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva,” she said.
“Since yesterday (Thursday) he has been discussing with them confidence-building measures, including the issue of prisoners, humanitarian access, the re-opening of Sanaa airport, in addition to economic issues,” she said.
The United Nations announced on Thursday that Griffiths was not expected to hold any talks at its Geneva offices on Friday.


Iraqi blogger returns day after kidnapping

Updated 41 min 17 sec ago

Iraqi blogger returns day after kidnapping

  • “Around 15 men wearing masks and black uniforms” took Al-Khafaji from his home, the blogger’s father said
  • Twenty-four hours later, hei was “abandoned in a street with $20 to pay for a taxi home”

BAGHDAD: A prominent Iraqi blogger resurfaced Friday a day after he was seized by masked gunmen, his father said, as Amnesty International denounced a “climate of fear” in the country after protests and deadly violence.
Shujaa Al-Khafaji’s family said armed men had snatched him from his home on Thursday without identifying themselves or showing an arrest warrant.
Khafaji’s Facebook page, Al-Khowa Al-Nadifa (Arabic for “Those Who Have Clean Hands“), carries posts on political and social issues and has some 2.5 million followers.
“Around 15 men wearing masks and black uniforms” took Khafaji from his home, the blogger’s father, Fares Al-Khafaji, told AFP.
He said they seized his son’s phones and computers, but were not violent.
Twenty-four hours later, Khafaji was “abandoned in a street with $20 to pay for a taxi home,” his father added.
The report of Khafaji’s seizure sparked an outcry from activists and influential political leaders.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International denounced a “relentless campaign of intimidation and assault against activists in Iraq” by authorities.
“The Iraqi authorities must immediately rein in the security forces and dismantle the climate of fear they have deliberately created to stop Iraqis from peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly,” said Lynn Maalouf, the group’s Middle East research director.
The group said other activists, including a doctor and a lawyer, were “forcibly disappeared more than 10 days ago,” and called on Iraqi authorities to reveal their whereabouts.
Firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr wrote on Twitter that “any act of aggression (against journalists or activists)... by the state constitutes an attack on freedom of speech.”
Former prime minister Haider Al-Abadi’s parliamentary bloc called on the government “to stop abuses of free media.”
Iraq was gripped by anti-government protests between October 1 and 6, during which 110 people, mainly demonstrators, were killed in clashes with security forces.
During the protests, unidentified armed men in uniforms raided several local television stations in Baghdad, destroying their equipment and intimidating their staff.
Journalists and activists also reported receiving threats, mostly by phone, from unidentified callers accusing them of having sided with the protesters.
Khafaji faced online harassment last month after a string of attacks on bases of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force dominated by pro-Iran groups.
The group on Thursday denied any involvement in the disappearance of activists, threatening legal action against anyone making such accusations.
But according to Amnesty, the Hashed was involved in at least one abduction — that of lawyer Ali Hattab, who represented protesters and was seized on October 8 in the southern city of Amara.
He was snatched by “suspected members of a faction of the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashed),” Amnesty said quoting Hattab’s relatives.
It happened two days after “two armed men from the PMU came to (his) home to warn him to stop being vocal about the killing of protesters on Facebook, otherwise they would kill him,” Amnesty added.