Jeddah brings together presidents of Eritrea and Djibouti at a historic reconciliation summit

Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh and his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki met in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 18 September 2018

Jeddah brings together presidents of Eritrea and Djibouti at a historic reconciliation summit

  • Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki met upon the invitation of Saudi King Salman
  • Eritrea and Djibouti have been at loggerheads for decades over a long-standing border dispute

JEDDAH: Leaders of Eritrea and Djibouti met in Saudi Arabia on Monday for historic talks a decade after a border conflict strained ties.
Presidents Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti and Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea shook hands as they met upon the invitation of the Saudi leadership.
Dr. Essam bin Saad bin Said, minister of state and member of the Saudi Council of Ministers, and the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir attended the meeting.
Both presidents expressed gratitude for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for facilitating the meeting, which opens a new chapter for relations between the neighbors.
The two nations have been at loggerheads for decades over a long-standing border dispute.
“There is a wind of hope blowing in the Horn of Africa,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who attended the signing of a historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates are helping broker peace in the region, in a sign of the growing importance the Gulf nations put on east Africa as they battle Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Dozens of commercial vessels transit daily through the Bab Al-Mandeb waterway, a crucial shipping lane between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.
Houthi rebels have launched a number of attacks on ships during the Yemeni conflict.


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 30 min 49 sec ago

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.