Yemeni government rejects latest UN peace plan draft

Houthi supporters gather in Sanaa in support of the Yemen’s armed Houthi movement and its political allies, in Sanaa, Yemen. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 July 2020

Yemeni government rejects latest UN peace plan draft

  • The plan gives legitimacy to the coup that Houthis plotted in late 2014, says a government official

AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen claims that the latest draft of a peace plan submitted by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths is biased toward the Iran-backed Houthis and “undermines” the government’s legitimacy, three government officials told Arab News on Thursday.
“The proposal suggests accepting the current situation and the changes on the ground including Houthis as an armed group,” one Cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arab News. The minister said the main “bone of contention” is “three references that the UN envoy wants to convince everyone are irrelevant” — namely the GCC Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, and Security Council Resolution 2216.
Another government official said the latest draft of the peace plan includes a nationwide truce and demands that the government pays public servants. The official said that the government believes those items contradict the “three references” that oblige the Houthis to hand over their weapons, leave Sana’a and other areas under their control, and allow the government to return to the capital.
“The plan gives legitimacy to the coup that Houthis plotted in late 2014. The fait-accompli policy cannot give international legitimacy to the putschists,” the second government official said. The government also believes that the Houthis should share the cost of paying government salaries, claiming the Iran-backed militia has taken large sums of money from seaports, banks and telecom companies.
A third senior government official told Arab News that the Houthis should be required to stop executing their opponents and seizing their properties in Sanaa, to release detainees, and to open Sanaa airport and Hodeida port.
“The problem is that the UN Yemen envoy is sometimes not a mediator. He supports the demand of the Houthis,” the third official said.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami said on Wednesday that the government rejected the latest draft of the peace plan and would abide by the previous draft, which did not include the controversial points.
Griffiths refutes the government’s accusations, saying the proposed peace plan asks all parties to cease hostilities and immediately engage in talks based on the three references, which he described in an interview with UN News as “the only way to break with the violence of the past and end this conflict comprehensively and sustainably.”
Griffiths recognized that major issues between the two sides remain, but said: “There are always points of convergence that a mediation process can build on. Yemen is no different. We will continue to work with the parties to find a consensual path forward to achieve these mutual goals and pave the way for bringing this conflict to a sustainable end.”
Without specifically naming the Houthis, Griffiths called for rebels to immediately halt offensives in the provinces of Jawf and Marib. “The continued assault on Marib is unacceptable. I am afraid this assault could seriously undermine the prospects of peace in Yemen,” he said.
Several previous rounds of peace talks between the government and Houthis in Geneva, Biel and Kuwait have failed. The government insists that the Houthis must disarm before they can share power, while the Houthis wish to discuss power-sharing and other political arrangements before withdrawing from cities under their control.
Houthi missiles
The provincial office of the Ministry of Human Rights in Marib said in a statement that 244 ballistic missiles and Katyusha rockets fired by the Houthis since early 2015 have killed 251 civilians — including 25 children and 12 women — and wounded 438 others, including 47 children and eight women.

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

Updated 46 min 25 sec ago

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir announced that the Alexandria Port would be receiving a new batch of 22 passenger railroad cars, bringing the total of Russian railroad cars so far to 103 vehicles, as part of a deal to manufacture and supply 1,300 new passenger railroad cars.

The deal, signed between the Egyptian Railways Authority and Russian-Hungarian company Transmashholding, is the largest in the history of Egypt’s railways, with a value of €1.16 billion ($1.8 billion).

Al-Wazir confirmed that the 22 railroad cars that arrived are third-class vehicles with dynamic ventilation.

The deal includes 800 air-conditioned vehicles, 500 third-class air-conditioned vehicles (a new service offered to passengers for the first time in the history of Egyptian railways), 180 second-class vehicles, 90 first-class vehicles, 30 air-conditioned buffet vehicles and 500 dynamic ventilated third-class vehicles.

Al-Wazir indicated that 35 vehicles have arrived during the current month, which is the average monthly supply agreed upon with the manufacturer, pointing out that this rate enables the railway authority to form three new trains consisting of tractors and all-new cars that are entered monthly to become part of the line.

Al-Wazir said that the deal contributes to raising the efficiency of the Egyptian railways’ daily operations and schedules. This coincides with the Egyptian Railway Authority’s projects to modernize infrastructure, including signaling systems, crossings, stations and other aspects.

All these projects that the ministry implemented contributed to increasing safety and security in train operations and improving the level of service.

Egypt is seeking to develop its railways, the second oldest in the world, after witnessing unfortunate accidents during the past two decades.

Over the past few years, railways in Egypt have undergone major development, represented by the modernization of the fleet of tractors and vehicles of various classes and the maintenance of trains and old railways.

According to official data, Egypt spent EGP 40 billion ($2.5 billion) on railway development projects during the past six years. Projects at a cost of EGP 86 billion are currently under way, and there is a plan to start implementing others at a cost of EGP 55 billion.