Saudis, UAE, Yemen ask UN to pressure Houthis

Supporters of the Houthis demonstrate in the capital Sanaa on 25 June 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 February 2019

Saudis, UAE, Yemen ask UN to pressure Houthis

  • In a letter sent to the council, the three governments accused the Houthis of violating the ceasefire
  • They asked the council to impress upon the Houthis, and their Iranian backers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen on Thursday asked the UN Security Council to increase pressure on Houthi militias to respect a cease-fire deal. In a letter, the three governments accused the militias of violating the agreement in the port city of Hodeidah 970 times since it came into force on Dec. 18, 2018.
They asked the council to “impress upon the Houthis, and their Iranian backers, that they will be held responsible if their continued failure to comply... leads to the collapse of the Stockholm agreement.”
Yemen’s coalition-backed government and Houthi leaders agreed to the cease-fire and a redeployment of forces from Hodeidah during UN-brokered talks in Sweden last month.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres separately on Thursday to discuss problems in implementing the Stockholm deal.
“We understand that we need to exercise patience, but it can’t be infinite,” Gargash said. “We do not want to launch an offensive. What we want is for the UN and the international community to exert influence.”
The council also met behind closed doors to hear a report from UN envoy Martin Griffiths, after a fresh round of diplomatic talks with both sides.
A Yemeni army spokesman, Brig. Abdo Majali, said that the militias had violated the cease-fire in Hodeidah more than 760 times in the two weeks after it went into effect alone, including bombing residential neighborhoods, hospitals and schools.
He also accused Iran of complicity, saying it supported the militias by providing them with illegal munitions and land mines, later planted in populated areas.

Extensive air raid
Houthi commander Abdullah Jahaf, meanwhile, was killed in a coalition airstrike in the northwestern province of Hajjah, Al Arabiya reported on Friday.
The coalition also attacked a site east of the capital Sanaa on Thursday, which the Houthis had used to store drones, coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said.
The operation came after extensive intelligence gathering revealed a network of Houthi operational infrastructure, he explained, including workshops and launch sites, and came in the wake of a drone being shot down in Saudi airspace on Wednesday.

Military operation
The Yemeni army, with support from the Arab coalition, launched a new operation on Thursday to retake strategic sites taken by Houthi militias in Kataf in Saada province.
In a statement to the Yemeni News Agency, a Yemeni army spokesman said that troops from the 82nd Infantry Brigade had retaken the strategic Jabal Al-Qahar mountains, as well as the villages of Rafqua, Al-Halfa’, Al-Akimi, and Al-Markib, that had previously witnessed large scale displacement of local residents.
He added that a number of Houthi militants, including two senior commanders, had been killed, while three more had been captured.


US to pull last troops from north Syria

Updated 14 October 2019

US to pull last troops from north Syria

  • The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria
  • Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of US’s Kurdish-led ally the Syrian Democratic Forces

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT: The United States said on Sunday it will withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northern Syria in the face of an expanding Turkish offensive while Syria’s army struck a deal with Kurdish forces to redeploy along its border with Turkey, both major victories for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria and the failure of the US policy of keeping Assad from reasserting state authority over areas lost during the more than eight-year conflict with rebels trying to end his rule.
The developments also represent wins for Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad since 2011 when his violent effort to crush what began as peaceful protests against his family’s decades-long rule of Syria exploded into a full-blown civil war.
While the US withdrawal moves American troops out of the line of fire, the return of Syrian soldiers to the Turkish border opens up the possibility of a wider conflagration should the Syrian army come in direct conflict with Turkish forces.
The Turkish onslaught in northern Syria has also raised the prospect that Daesh militants and their families held by the Kurdish forces targeted by Turkey may escape — scores were said to have done so already — and permit the group’s revival.
The remarkable turn of events was set in motion a week ago when US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw about 50 special operations forces from two outposts in northern Syria, a step widely seen as paving the way for Turkey to launch its week-long incursion against Kurdish militia in the region.
Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of Washington’s Kurdish-led ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been a key US ally in dismantling the “caliphate” set up by Daesh militants in Syria.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group aligned with Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said the offensive would extend from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east and extend some 30 kilometers into Syrian territory, with the town of Ras al Ain now in Turkish control.
US Defense Secretary Mike Esper said the United States decided to withdraw its roughly 1,000 troops in northern Syria — two US officials told Reuters it could pull the bulk out in days — after learning of the deepening Turkish offensive.
It was unclear what would happen to the several hundred US troops at the American military outpost of Tanf, near Syria’s southern border with Iraq and Jordan.
Another factor behind the decision, Esper indicated in an interview with the CBS program “Face the Nation,” was that the SDF aimed to make a deal with Russia and Syria to counter the Turkish onslaught. Several hours later, the Kurdish-led administration said it had struck just such an agreement for the Syrian army to deploy along the length of the border with Turkey to help repel Ankara’s offensive.
The deployment would help the SDF in countering “this aggression and liberating the areas that the Turkish army and mercenaries had entered,” it added, referring to Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, and would also allow for the liberation of other Syrian cities occupied by the Turkish army such as Afrin.
The fighting has sparked Western concerns that the SDF, holding large swathes of northern Syria once controlled by Daesh, would be unable to keep thousands of militants in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps.