Yemen, Djibouti talk protection of Bab al-Mandab strait, Red Sea

The officials expressed their concern over the lack of cooperation displayed by the Houthis on the Safer oil tanker issue. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 August 2020

Yemen, Djibouti talk protection of Bab al-Mandab strait, Red Sea

  • The two spoke about securing the international maritime navigation fighting terrorism and facing security challenges
  • The issue of the Safer oil tanker was also discussed during the meeting

DUBAI: Top officials from Yemen and Djibouti have met to discuss coordinated efforts to protect the security of the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab strait, including the future of the Safer tanker, currently held by the Houthi militia, state news agency Saba has reported.

Yemeni Prime Minister Ma’een Abdulmalik and Djibouti’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dhiya'addin Bamakhrama, spoke on Tuesday, expressing concerns over the looming environmental threat posed by the decaying Safer tanker.

And they expressed their concern over the lack of cooperation displayed by the Houthis, who have rejected the United Nations’ continued requests to be granted access to the ship and drain the cargo of oil.




Yemeni Prime Minister Ma’een Abdulmalik and Djibouti’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dhiya'addin Bamakhrama spoke on Tuesday. (Saba New)

They spoke about securing the international maritime navigation on these waters, fighting terrorism and facing security challenges across the Arab region.

Abdulmalik said his government welcomed all solutions to avoid looming environmental disaster, highlighting his keenness to coordinate efforts with Djibouti to maintain the security of the Red Sea and Baba al-Mandab, boosting relations between the two countries and enabling the continued flow of international trade through the area.

Expressing his full support to the Yemeni government in defeating the Houthis, Djibouti’s Bamakhrama acknowledged Yemen’s eagerness to solve the decaying oil tanker issue, and its efforts to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.


US accuses Syria of delaying constitution ahead of election

Updated 2 min 43 sec ago

US accuses Syria of delaying constitution ahead of election

  • It calls for a Syrian-led political process starting with the establishment of a transitional governing body

NEW YORK: The US and several Western allies on Tuesday accused the Syrian regime of deliberately delaying the drafting of a new constitution to waste time until presidential elections in 2021, and avoid UN-supervised voting as called for by the UN Security Council.

US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills urged the Security Council to “do everything in its power” to prevent Bashar Assad regime from blocking agreement on a new constitution in 2020. The Trump administration believes Assad’s hope is to “invalidate the work” of UN special envoy Geir Pedersen who has been trying to spearhead action on a constitution, and the council’s call for a political transition.

The Security Council resolution adopted in December 2015 unanimously endorsed a road map to peace in Syria that was approved in Geneva on June 30, 2012 by representatives of the UN, Arab League, EU, Turkey and all five permanent Security Council members — the US, Russia, China, France and Britain.

It calls for a Syrian-led political process starting with the establishment of a transitional governing body, followed by the drafting of a new constitution and ending with UN-supervised elections. The resolution says the free and fair elections should meet “the highest international standards” of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians — including members of the diaspora — eligible to participate.

At a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. That took until September 2019, and since then only three meetings have been held with little progress.

Pedersen, the UN envoy, told the Security Council on Tuesday he was unable to convene a fourth meeting in October because the government wouldn’t accept a compromise agenda which the opposition agreed to. During his just concluded visit to Damascus, he said there was “some valuable narrowing of the differences” that could enable consensus on agendas for the next two meetings.

“If we are able to find agreement in the next two days, it should be possible to meet in Geneva sometime in the month of November,” Pedersen said, dropping the Nov. 23 date in his prepared speech.

Mills, the US envoy, urged Pedersen “to take any measures he thinks are appropriate to facilitate the parties’ efforts ... and also to identify to the council who is blocking progress.”

“Syria is wholly unprepared to carry out elections in a free, fair and transparent manner that would include the participation of the Syrian diaspora,” Mills said. “This is why we need the constitutional committee to work, and why we need the UN to accelerate its planning to ensure Syria’s upcoming elections are credible.”

German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen called Assad’s “delaying and obstruction tactics” on the constitutional committee’s work “just detestable.”

He said Russia, Syria’s most important ally, “should finally use its influence by, for instance, just cutting military aid and stopping its support, so that the Syrian regime finally plays ball.”

Syria’s tactics are clear, Heusgen said. “They want to waste time until the presidential elections in 2021. The regime should not have any illusions. The elections will not be recognized if they are held under the present circumstances.”

French Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere also criticized Assad’s “refusal to engage in good faith” and called for preparations to begin for UN-supervised elections that include the diaspora. France won’t recognize results that don’t comply with these provisions, he said, stressing: “We will not be fooled by the regime’s attempts to legitimize itself.”

Russia’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, made no mention of the April presidential election and countered that Syrians must have “the opportunity to negotiate without interference from the outside.”

“The work of the constitutional committee should not be subject to any deadlines,” he said, expressing hope that Pedersen’s mediation will enable the committee’s work to continue “in line with the agenda agreed by the Syrians.”

Russia also sparred with Western ambassadors over its veto threats that led to the closure of two border crossings to deliver aid to Syria — one in the northeast and one in the northwest — leaving only one crossing to Idlib in the northwest.

The US, Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and others criticized the border crossing closures.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the council that Syrian government deliveries across conflict lines to the northeast are “not delivering at the scale or frequency required to meet the current health needs.” He said one hospital received only 450 gowns in April, and another received nothing for its maternity wing.

Lowcock also said “the situation of families across Syria is truly desperate,” citing food prices more than 90 percent higher than six months ago.

Russia’s Nebenzia responded, noting “with satisfaction the progress in UN humanitarian deliveries from inside Syria including through cross-line routes,” saying this “proves” the government is providing aid to people including in areas not under its control.