British minister emphasizes Saudi Arabia’s important role in Yemen peace process

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt gives a speech at the Konrad-Adenauer foundation in Berlin on February 20, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2019

British minister emphasizes Saudi Arabia’s important role in Yemen peace process

  • Hunt said that the British-Saudi partnership helped parties to the Yemen conflict form the Stockholm Agreement under the auspices of the UN
  • British Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt pointed out that Riyadh was the “biggest donor of humanitarian efforts in Yemen”

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt highlighted Wednesday the “strategic partnership” between Britain and Saudi Arabia and said it would help British efforts to end the war in Yemen.
Hunt noted that the British-Saudi partnership helped parties to the Yemen conflict form the Stockholm Agreement under the auspices of the UN, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
“The strategic relationship that the UK has with Saudi Arabia is what allows us to have a huge influence in bringing about peace in Yemen,” he said.
Hunt’s comments, made during a visit to Berlin on Wednesday, follow a decision by Germany to freeze arms exports to Saudi Arabia. That move was slammed by several other European countries, including France, with President Emmanuel Macron labeling it “pure demagoguery.”
“Britain and Germany have the same objectives, but we need to be able to continue that strategic relationship (with Saudi Arabia) in order to make sure that there is a European voice at the (Yemeni) negotiation table that does everything it can to press for peace,” the British foreign secretary said.
He added that he would raise the issue with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Berlin, following reports that the British minister had written to his German counterpart to complain about the arms embargo.
Britain’s foreign ministry confirmed that Hunt sent a letter to Maas, but did not elaborate on its content.
Citing the letter, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that London had urged Berlin to exempt major European defense projects from the weapons embargo.
Meanwhile, the British Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt underlined Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in Yemen, pointing out that Riyadh was the “biggest donor of humanitarian efforts in Yemen.”
Burt, who recently visited a number of Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, stressed Britain’s keenness to achieve progress in the Yemeni talks considering the country’s humanitarian situation. He added that he discussed the upcoming donor conference in Geneva during his visit.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 13 November 2019

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.