Yemen moving toward peaceful solution, says UN official

Yemen moving toward peaceful solution, says UN official
Displaced Yemenis receive humanitarian aid, donated by the World Food Programme, in cooperation with the Danish Refugee Council, in the province of Hajjah. (AFP)
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Updated 01 January 2020

Yemen moving toward peaceful solution, says UN official

Yemen moving toward peaceful solution, says UN official

LONDON: Yemen is moving toward a more peaceful situation, but requires warring sides to come to an agreement on operations if the war is to end and a resolution is reached, the chairman of the UN’s Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in the crucial port city of Hodeidah has said.

Lt. Gen. (retired) Abhijit Guha told Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that factions needed to reach an agreement about local security forces.

The war in Yemen began after Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 from the internationally recognized government and launched an offensive across the country. A coalition including Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in 2015 after the militants invaded the city of Aden.

Under a deal reached in Stockholm in Dec. 2018 the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a team to monitor and support a cease-fire and redeployment of forces from Hodeidah.

The city was for months the main frontline in the war after government forces, supported by the coalition, sought to capture it. 

The Stockholm Agreement stipulates a full cease-fire, followed by the withdrawal and redeployment of rival forces from the city. But these clauses have yet to be fulfilled and the withdrawal is at a stalemate, with both sides blaming the other for its delay.

The UN has been criticized for its refusal to blame anyone for the current obstruction of redeployment in Hodeidah, but Guha said
it was essential that the UN remained neutral. 

The UN’s role was to work with both parties, stay the course, and help bridge the gap wherever necessary and to implement the redeployment in a satisfactory way to both parties, and of course, most importantly, to the people of Yemen, he added.

The former military man chaired his first RCC meeting on Dec. 18 and 19, telling the newspaper he was encouraged by the initial responses from both parties. He proposed to move between Mocha and the capital to finalize issues, so that a “common military concept” of operations for the redeployment process could be established.

“Of course, the actual redeployment would only be possible once the issue of the local security force is politically discussed and resolved,” he added. 

“To me, the issue of the local security force is one of a political nature, and will have to be resolved by the political leadership of both parties. And I feel when the moment is right, they would resolve this issue. But till then, it is incumbent on me to prepare and be ready for it by having a concept of operations to be followed when this time comes.”

Both parties had committed to adhere to the cease-fires, said Guha, but there was a lot of mistrust as a result of the long conflict. He pointed out, however, that there had been no offensive since the agreement was signed and that there had been “significant de-escalation” compared to how things were previously. “I believe both parties are sincere in their hope to end the war. So, all of this gives me a lot of hope.” 

He highlighted other key areas for activity and attention, including relief work.

“We have generally found that people are most keen on this (facilitating humanitarian access), and I am sure that this movement would be possible in a more regulated way, not that it’s not happening now, but it will be happening in a more regulated way. The third issue is the issue of improving the movement of civilians across frontlines. This is an issue which both sides have shown keenness about, and I’m sure we will be able to implement this also in
due course.”

He described Yemen as a “laboratory of the world” for its position as a crossroads between civilizations, trade and world affairs, saying he would like to see what was believed to be the world’s first irrigation system in the south of Yemen.

Guha also had words for Yemenis. “I think my message to them is that you are the people who brought us into this world. It was through you that humanity spread. And we owe it to you to give you peace.”


Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19
Updated 12 min 38 sec ago

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19
  • Palestinian medical teams would be stationed at checkpoints to administer the vaccines
  • Of the 5.2 million people, only 32,000 have received the vaccine to date

JERUSALEM: Israel will administer COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians who work in Israel or in its settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli liaison office COGAT said on Sunday.
The vaccination campaign, which could apply to around 130,000 Palestinians, will begin within days, COGAT said.
Shaher Saad, secretary-general of the Palestinian Workers’ Union, said thousands of Palestinians who work in the Israeli service and industrial sectors had already been vaccinated privately by their employers inside Israel.
He said Palestinian medical teams would be stationed at checkpoints to administer the vaccines, by agreement with Israeli authorities.
Israel has given at least one dose of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine to more than half of its 9.3 million population, including Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
But it has come under international criticism for not doing more to enable vaccination of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians have received around 32,000 vaccine doses to date, for the 5.2 million people who live in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli officials have said that, under the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian health ministry is responsible for vaccinating people in Gaza and those parts of the West Bank where it has limited self-rule.


Jordan ministers sacked for virus rules breach

Jordan ministers sacked for virus rules breach
Updated 28 February 2021

Jordan ministers sacked for virus rules breach

Jordan ministers sacked for virus rules breach
  • The pair were asked to step down by Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh
  • The Jordanian news website Ammon claimed Mobaideen and Talhuni had attended a dinner in a restaurant in Amman with a total of nine people

AMMAN: Jordan’s interior and justice ministers were sacked Sunday for breaching health regulations to stem the spread of coronavirus, with their replacements named by royal decree.
The pair were asked to step down by Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh, a move immediately endorsed by King Abdullah II, according to a statement from the royal palace.
They are accused, according to a government source, of “having violated the emergency law” put in place to curb Covid-19.
The Jordanian news website Ammon claimed interior minister Samir Mobaideen and justice minister Bassam Talhuni had attended a dinner in a restaurant in Amman with a total of nine people, when the law allowed a maximum of six.
Tawfiq Krishan, deputy prime minister and in charge of local administration, was appointed as the new interior minister.
Ahmed Ziyadat, State Secretary for Legal Affairs, was named as justice minister.
Following a surge in virus cases, Jordan toughened this week its Covid-19 restrictions, returning to rules imposed in March last year, and which were only eased last month.
Jordan, which began vaccinations last month, has officially recorded more than 386,000 novel coronavirus cases and 4,675 deaths out of a population of 10.5 million people.


Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya
Updated 28 February 2021

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

CAIRO: Turkey has summoned the Iranian ambassador over accusations by Tehran that Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty, Al Arabiya TV reported Sunday. 

Turkey said it expects from Tehran to stand by Ankara in “combating terrorism”. 

Last week, Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran over comments made by Turkish officials accusing Iran of destabilizing the region by getting involved in Iraq and Syria. 


Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark
Updated 28 February 2021

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran's health ministry said the country's coronavirus fatalities broke the 60,000 mark on Sunday, as the Islamic republic battles the Middle East's worst outbreak of the illness.
"Sadly in the past 24 hours, 93 people lost their lives to Covid-19, and total deaths from this disease reached 60,073," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised address.
Iran has registered a total of 1,631,169 infections, according to the ministry.


Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria

Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria
Updated 28 February 2021

Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria

Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria
  • Russian Defense Ministry said the helicopter was not fired at

AMMAN/MOSCOW: A Russian Mi-35 helicopter made an emergency landing due to technical problems during a flight over Syria’s northern Hasaka province, state agencies quoted Russia’s Defense Ministry as saying on Sunday.
“The crew was quickly evacuated to the airfield. There is no threat to lives of the pilots,” the RIA news agency cited a Defense Ministry statement as saying.
The helicopter was not fired at, it added.
Syrian state media said earlier there were reports of a Russian helicopter crash in northeast Syria that killed the pilot.
It said the site of the crash was in Hasaka province, near Tal Tamr close to a Russian base.