Yemen govt accuses Houthis of ‘sabotage’ for not showing up in peace talks

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Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled Al-Yamani walks to a meeting with UN special envoy on Yemen at a hotel on September 7, 2018 in Geneva. (AFP)
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UN envoy Martin Griffiths leaves after a news conference on Yemen talks at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland on September 8, 2018. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse(
Updated 08 September 2018

Yemen govt accuses Houthis of ‘sabotage’ for not showing up in peace talks

  • Yemeni FM chides UN envoy for not being firm enough with Houthis
  • The government delegation had decided to return home after the talks were put on hold for three days

GENEVA: Yemen's foreign minister accused the Houthi militia on Saturday of “trying to sabotage the negotiations” that ended without their attendance in Geneva and said that the UN envoy had not been firm enough with them.
“We want the UN to be firmer in bringing the other party to the negotiations”, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani told a press conference before leaving the Swiss city after three days of talks with UN envoy Stephen Griffiths on confidence-building measures including prisoner releases.
Al-Yamani, who led the government delegation, also accused the Houthis of being “totally irresponsible”.
“If they were sincere in reaching peace, they should have come, even if we were meeting in separate rooms,” he said.
Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states, tweeted: “Despite the serious setback in Geneva the way forward is still a political solution. What is perhaps clearer now to the international community is the unwillingness of the Houthis to engage in good faith with such a process.”
Despite the Houthis failure to show up, Griffiths said thatdid not signify the peace process was deadlocked
“They would have like to get here, we didn’t make conditions sufficiently correct to get them here,” Griffiths told a news conference, declining to elaborate.
He said he would meet in the coming days with the Houthi leadership in Sanaa and Muscat, Oman.
The Houthi group said on Friday it was still waiting for the United Nations to guarantee that the flight carrying its delegation to Geneva would not be inspected by Saudi coalition forces and could evacuate some of its wounded.
Griffiths, referring to peace processes, said on Saturday: “A restart is a very delicate, fragile moment. People are coming at a time when perhaps all of their constituencies are not fully engaged and don’t see ahead of time results that will come out of talks.
“So I don’t take this as a fundamental blockage in the process,” he added.
Confidence-building measures such as prisoner releases, increasing humanitarian access, especially to the city of Taiz, and reopening Sanaa airport were discussed with the government, he said.
Agreement has been reached for medical evacuations from the Houthi-held Yemeni capital of Sanaa, to start in a week with a flight to Cairo, he said, calling it an “early achievement.”
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Houthis in 2015 with the aim of restoring the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. 


Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

Updated 19 November 2019

Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

  • Iraqi civilians are increasingly relying on boats to ferry them across the Tigris River as ongoing standoffs shut key bridges in Baghdad
  • The Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar bridges connect both sides of the city by passing over the river

BAGHDAD: Anti-government protesters blocked access to a second major commercial port in southern Iraq on Tuesday, as bridge closures effectively split the capital in half, causing citizens to rely on boats for transport to reach the other side of the city.
Since anti-government protests began Oct. 1, at least 320 people have been killed and thousands wounded in Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands over what they say is widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, despite the country’s oil wealth.
Security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun guns to repel protesters, tactics that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday would be punished with sanctions.
“We will not stand idle while the corrupt officials make the Iraqi people suffer. Today, I am affirming the United States will use our legal authorities to sanction corrupt individuals that are stealing Iraqis’ wealth and those killing and wounding peaceful protesters,” he said in remarks to reporters in Washington.
“Like the Iraqi people taking to the streets today, our sanctions will not discriminate between religious sect or ethnicity,” he added. “They will simply target those who do wrong to the Iraqi people, no matter who they are.”
Over a dozen protesters blocked the main entrance to Khor Al-Zubair port, halting trade activity as oil tankers and other trucks carrying goods were unable to enter or exit. The port imports commercial goods and materials as well as refined oil products.
Crude from Qayara oil field in Ninewa province, in northern Iraq, is also exported from the port.
Khor Al-Zubair is the second largest port in the country. Protesters had burned tires and cut access to the main Gulf commercial port in Umm Qasr on Monday and continued to block roads Tuesday.
Iraqi civilians are increasingly relying on boats to ferry them across the Tigris River as ongoing standoffs between demonstrators and Iraqi security forces on three key bridges has shut main thoroughfares connecting east and west Baghdad.
The Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar bridges, which have been partially occupied by protesters following days of deadly clashes, connect both sides of the city by passing over the Tigris River. The blockages have left Iraqis who must make the daily commute for work, school and other day-to-day activities with no choice but to rely on river boats.
“After the bridges were cut, all the pressure is on us here,” said Hasan Lilo, a boat owner in the capital. “We offer a reasonable transportation means that helps the people.”