UN says war in Yemen is ‘eminently resolvable’

The warring sides have fought to a stalemate, and several rounds of UN-sponsored talks, the last held in Sweden in December, have failed to implement any deal to end the war. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 July 2019

UN says war in Yemen is ‘eminently resolvable’

  • Griffiths says war in Yemen is eminently resolvable, diplomatic consensus in region is in favour of UN-brokered peace deal
  • UAE minister Gargash said the Houthis should see the UAE move as a confidence-building measure

GENEVA/DUBAI: The war in Yemen can be stopped because the warring sides still support a UN peace deal brokered in Stockholm last December, UN envoy Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday.
The four-year war between the Iran-aligned Houthi militia and an Arab coalition supporting the Yemeni government has killed many tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine.
“I believe that this war in Yemen is eminently resolvable,” Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.
“Both parties continue to insist that they want a political solution and the military solution is not available. They remain committed to the Stockholm agreement in all its different aspects.”
He said that while the Stockholm agreement was taking some time to be implemented, both sides saw it as a gateway to opening up negotiations on a political solution, and the international community supported the deal.
Last week a meeting between the warring sides, on the neutral ground of a UN ship in the Red Sea, brought a surprise breakthrough, with agreement on technical aspects of a cease-fire deal in the flashpoint port of Hodeidah.
Griffiths said those talks had made more progress than he had expected, reaching operational agreements on troop withdrawal plans under the Stockholm deal, which envisages a UN-backed team taking over management of the port as the two armies pull back.
There were several issues that remained unresolved, including how to handle the port’s revenue and governance, and how to handle local security forces, Griffiths said.
He said he also took heart from the movement of coalition forces out of Yemen.
Last month, the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, began scaling back its military presence, Western diplomatic sources told Reuters.
Griffiths said it was a very deliberate push toward a commitment to peace.
The peace process was still vulnerable to a “detonation” such as attacks on Saudi infrastructure which could open up a regional conflict, he said, adding that he was attempting to de-escalate things before they reached that point. 
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, part of the Arab coalition fighting in support of the legitimate Yemeni government, is not leaving the war-torn country despite an ongoing drawdown and redeployment of Emirati forces, a UAE minister has said.
“Just to be clear, the UAE and the rest of the coalition are not leaving Yemen,” minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said in an opinion piece published Monday in The Washington Post.
“While we will operate differently, our military presence will remain. In accordance with international law, we will continue to advise and assist local Yemen forces.”
The UAE announced earlier this month it was drawing down and redeploying troops in Yemen, where a years-long conflict between government forces — backed by the Arab coalition — and Iran-aligned Houthi militia has pushed the country to the brink of famine.
The UAE is a key partner in the military coalition which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to back the internationally-recognized government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against the rebels.
Gargash said Houthis should see the UAE move as a “confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict.”
“As the United Arab Emirates draws down and redeploys its forces in Yemen, we do so in the same way we began — with eyes wide open,” he said.
“There was no easy victory and there will be no easy peace.
“But now is the time to double down on the political process.”
The warring sides have fought to a stalemate, and several rounds of UN-sponsored talks, the last held in Sweden in December, have failed to implement any deal to end the war.
(With AFP and Reuters)


Turkey sends armed drone to N.Cyprus amid gas dispute

Updated 8 min 35 sec ago

Turkey sends armed drone to N.Cyprus amid gas dispute

  • The breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles
  • A recent agreement between Turkey and Libya claims extensive areas of sea for Turkey in the Mediterranean

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus: A Turkish military drone was delivered to northern Cyprus on Monday amid growing tensions over Turkey’s deal with Libya that extended its claims to the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.
The Bayraktar TB2 drone landed in Gecitkale Airport in Famagusta around 0700 GMT, an AFP correspondent said, after the breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles.
It followed a deal signed last month between Libya and Turkey that could prove crucial in the scramble for recently discovered gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
The agreement claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey, undercutting claims by Greece and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which runs the southern part of the island.
Analysts say Turkey was pushing back against rival efforts to claim exploration rights in the area after Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Israel excluded Turkey from a new “East Mediterranean Gas Forum” that also includes Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey, said approval for the drone was given last week “in light of the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean region” and “to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the TRNC and Turkey.”
The TRNC’s transport minister, Tolga Atakan, said Turkish drones were partly a response to the acquisition of Israeli drones by Cyprus in October to monitor its exclusive economic zone.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta.
Turkey already has two drilling vessels in the eastern Mediterranean despite the threat of European Union sanctions.
Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and says the TRNC has the right to explore around the entire island.