UN monitoring of Yemen ports for war activity hampered by Houthis, top official says

Special UN monitoring of Yemen ports for war activity hampered by Houthis, top official says
Maj. Gen. Michael Beary. (AFP/File)
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Updated 17 June 2022

UN monitoring of Yemen ports for war activity hampered by Houthis, top official says

UN monitoring of Yemen ports for war activity hampered by Houthis, top official says
  • Maj. Gen. Michael Beary told Arab News he continues to lobby the rebels to grant full access to the ports so his team can move freely
  • He heads the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement; the Security Council will vote soon on renewing its mandate, which expires on July 15

NEW YORK: The head of the UN mission at Hodeidah in Yemen, which is monitoring the ceasefire there, has called for its mandate to be extended.

Maj. Gen. Michael Beary emphasized the strategic and humanitarian significance of the coastal city to the future of Yemen, and said there is no “easy substitute” for its ports.

“The ports serve as a lifeline for Yemen,” he told Arab News. “They supply up to 70 percent of the country’s population with humanitarian aid and essential food supplies.

“There is no viable substitute for Hodeidah’s ports, both in terms of location and infrastructure, and the governorate remains an indispensable pathway to the country’s social economic recovery.”

However, Beary said that his team, formally known as the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement, remains dogged by restrictions on the movement of personnel imposed by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have, from the beginning, prevented them from carrying out patrols in Hodeidah city and accessing hot spots and the locations of significant “ceasefire incidents.”

“We are very much in touch with Houthis,” he said. But although the current truce between the Yemeni government and the militia seems largely to be holding and has led to “some relaxations” on the part of the Houthis, he added: “We are still confined.”
Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, where he was having private consultations with members of the Security Council ahead of a vote on the renewal of his mission’s mandate, which is scheduled for July, he said: “We’ve been trying to push back against (the restrictions on freedom of movement) and I have been trying to get acquiescence from the Houthis to expand our patrolling format.

“I would like to be patrolling to the ports unannounced at any time and visit every area and that’s what I want to get to, but I am not quite there yet. But we have increased the frequencies of our patrols to ensure that the ports and the civilian nature of the ports is maintained.”
The UNMHA was born from the 2018 Stockholm Agreement, a voluntary accord between the parties to Yemen’s conflict. It includes three main undertakings, including a prisoner-swap deal and an agreement on addressing the situation in besieged Taiz governorate.
Regarding Hodeidah, and the ports there and at Salif and Ras Issa, the signatories agreed to an immediate ceasefire in the city, the securing of the ports and the establishment of a committee to coordinate the redeployment of forces. The agreement also provided for a strengthened UN presence in the city and ports.

The UNMHA is tasked with maintaining the civilian status of the ports amid the continuing regional and international outcry against the use of them by the Houthis for war-related activities and reports of Iran using the ports to smuggle arms into the country.
Beary said that his mission has not been able to independently verify the claims of arms smuggling through the ports, nor has it witnessed any war-related activities there, but he again noted the limits on his team’s ability to move about freely and carry out “unannounced” inspections.

“I lead a small, political mission; it’s 120-strong, it is not a big peacekeeping mission,” he said. “We have small number of military monitors and we do have challenges in terms of freedom of movement in Hodeidah.
“We work through those challenges as best we can. We patrol as regularly as we can into the port’s environment.”
Beary explained that there are also geographical issues to overcome.

“There’s quite a separation between these ports,” he said. “If you go from Hodeida to (Salif), it is a three-hour-long trip. They’re not all nicely tied together.

“So we go out there, we look for any changes in the immediate nature of the ports. And … from the periods that we have been doing this, and we’ve been doing this since Stockholm was agreed, we haven’t seen any major military movements or military manifestations.”

Despite the issues that his mission continues to face, he said it continues to perform a vital task.

“It’s important for the international community that we continue to do this and I certainly will keep advocating to get greater freedom of movement in order to allow us to be out there more frequently and unannounced, and therefore we can reliably inform the international community that the ports are civilian in nature,” Beary said.

“The ports are (strategically) so important. There is no easy substitute for them on the coast. The ports are incredibly important for the delivery of humanitarian aid. We must keep them open.”

He added that action to reduce the threat posed by mines remains one of the most important elements of his mission’s work. He said the devices continue to claim innocent lives and described them as “a curse on the population of Yemen.”

“The mission is sparing no effort to mobilize support to respond to this tragic problem within our immediate environment,” he said.

Beary said he is building a good relationship with the government of Yemen and hopes to develop a solid rapport with all parties to help the UN reap the benefits of what he called the “peace dividends” resulting from the nationwide truce, which began in April, including the recent resumption of commercial international flights to and from Yemen, and fuel shipments to Hodeidah.

“Peace must really come from the parties, it can’t be imposed upon them by the UN or by the UN missions, but we will be there, ready to help them,” Beary said.


Iran man kills teenage daughter

Iran man kills teenage daughter
Updated 41 min 13 sec ago

Iran man kills teenage daughter

Iran man kills teenage daughter
  • The death was an apparent so-called “honor killing”

TEHRAN: A teenage girl in Iran was killed by her father who blasted her with a shotgun in the heart, local media said on Friday.
The death, an apparent so-called “honor killing” in the ultra-conservative country, came after the father confronted his 16-year-old daughter after she met a young man in the southern city of Nurabad, women’s activists said.
The girl fled to her grandmother’s house after an argument with her father, who then confronted her.
“I didn’t really intend to kill my daughter, I shot unintentionally,” the father said, quoted by the Rokna news website. “I went there with my shotgun only to scare her.”
The father, 43, was arrested and “confessed to his crime,” Rokna added.
In Iran, a father does not incur the death penalty if he kills his child.
There are no exact statistics on honor killings in Iran, but the ISNA news agency estimates there are “between 375 and 450 cases of honor killings” a year.
According to ISNA, such killings account for around a fifth of murders committed in the Islamic republic.


Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
Updated 01 July 2022

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
  • Ice cream brand said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company

JERUSALEM: Unilever this week sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to its local licensee for an undisclosed sum, aiming to smooth over a potentially damaging diplomatic row over the company’s political stance.
The deal comes after the US ice cream brand announced last year it would stop marketing products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with its values. Under the new arrangement Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be available to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Ben & Jerry’s has said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company.
The episode highlighted the challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians, such as San Francisco-based Airbnb, which in 2019 reversed its decision to delist Israeli settlements.
The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law in its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel says such boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
On Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry called the Ben & Jerry’s deal “a huge victory.”
“We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere or in the moral realm,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.
Last year, Israel condemned the sales boycott as “morally wrong” and said Unilever would face “severe consequences.” The consumer goods giant defended Ben & Jerry’s autonomy, but said it was “fully committed” to Israel and would find a solution by the end of this year.
Unilever had said previously it did not support the BDS movement, and reiterated that stance in a statement on Wednesday.
The new owner is the brand’s long-time Israeli ice cream licensee Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products. Zinger had sued Ben & Jerry’s after its decision in the West Bank, saying the company illegally severed their 34-year relationship.
“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.
A representative for the Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s said the company does not agree with Unilever’s announcement and will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.
“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the representative told Reuters.
Pension officials in at least six US states had restricted or sold Unilever stock or bonds to protest the Ben & Jerry’s decision, among them New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. Representatives for all three told Reuters on Wednesday they would review Unilever’s move.
Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is joining the board of Unilever next month, was involved in the discussions to bring about the resolution, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization that supported the deal. Peltz is the chairman of the center’s board of governors.
Peltz met with Unilever CEO Alan Jope in September before Trian Partners, the investment fund Peltz runs, bought any shares, to discuss the situation, a person familiar with the matter said.
Trian Partners commended the new arrangement in a statement, saying that “respect and tolerance have prevailed.”
Ben & Jerry’s and its independent board maintained the right to decide on its social mission when it was bought by Unilever in 2000. But Unilever said it “reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.”
Israel captured the West Bank, part of the territory Palestinians want for an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
“The return of Ben and Jerry’s to Israeli settlements, which were built on Palestinian land, exposes it to international legal accountability and its name will be on the United Nations blacklist of companies operating in settlements,” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Wasel Abu Yussef told Reuters.
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said the deal sought to undermine the “principled decision” to stop selling the ice cream in Israeli settlements.
“What comes next may look and taste similar, but, without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream,” he said in a statement.
Ben & Jerry’s Jewish founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, no longer manage the brand but are well known for their commitment to social justice. The company has recently expressed strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.


Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty
Updated 01 July 2022

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty
  • Turkey would consider turning back the 2004 abolishment of capital punishment

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he would approve possibly reinstating the death penalty if parliament were to send a bill on the matter to him, broadcaster NTV cited him as saying on Friday.
Erdogan’s justice minister said at the weekend Turkey would consider turning back the 2004 abolishment of capital punishment after the president earlier raised the issue in connection with the cause of wildfires. His nationalist ally Devlet Bahceli has backed the idea and said the penalty should extend to terrorism, rape, and the murder of women.
“If necessary, this should be brought back on the agenda and made into a debate. We should see what comes of this debate,” Erdogan was cited as saying.
“I said it before, if parliament makes such a decision as a result of our justice ministry’s work, I will approve this decision,” he added. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)


Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king
Updated 01 July 2022

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to the king

Jordan's Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain sworn in as deputy to his brother King Abdullah II of Jordan, Petra news agency reported on Friday.

Born in 1963, Prince Faisal is the son of King Hussein and Princess Muna. He is the younger brother of King Abdullah II. He has periodically served as regent during his brother's absences abroad.

He holds a private pilot's licence and received helicopter training while serving in the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

He has served as the president of the Jordan Olympic Committee since 2003.


Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 
Updated 01 July 2022

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 
  • Al-Alimi praised the US’ efforts in supporting the truce in Yemen, and its constructive approach when dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country

DUBAI: Abdullah al-Alimi, a member of Yemen’s Presidential Council, warned that the Houthi militia’s mobilization, regrouping and constant breaches of the UN truce continue to threaten the peace process. 

The comments were made when al-Alimi met with Stephen Fagin, US Ambassador to Yemen, state news agency SABA reported on Thursday.

Al-Alimi said that the Houthi militia must honor its commitment by lifting the siege on Taiz, opening roads in and out of the city, and allowing Yemeni people to move safely and freely across the country. 

Fagin agreed that the commitment on the Houthi’s part is crucial to honor the UN truce, and he confirmed the US’ continuous support for Yemen's internationally-recognized government by helping it perform its responsibilities.

Meanwhile, al-Alimi pointed out that the Presidential Leadership Council has a clear work-plan to tackle challenges faced in the economic, service, security, and military fields, in addition to combating terrorism in the country. 

The two also spoke about ways to promote mutual relations between the two countries. 

Al-Alimi and Fagin addressed issues of common interest during their meeting, which include regional security and the latest methods for combating terrorism. 

Al-Alimi praised the US’ efforts in supporting the truce in Yemen, and its constructive approach when dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country. 

Fagin also praised the positive position of the Presidential Leadership Council and the government in tightening the humanitarian truce and supporting all efforts for achieving peace in Yemen.