Russia and China clash with US and UK at UN over attacks on Yemen rebels for strikes on Red Sea ships

Russia and China clash with US and UK at UN over attacks on Yemen rebels for strikes on Red Sea ships
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Houthi fighters march during a rally of support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the US strikes on Yemen outside Sanaa on Jan. 22, 2024. (AP/File)
Russia and China clash with US and UK at UN over attacks on Yemen rebels for strikes on Red Sea ships
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A British Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft takes off from Akrotiri, Cyprus, to conduct further strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen on Feb. 3, 2024. (UK Ministry of Defense via AP/File)
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Updated 15 February 2024
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Russia and China clash with US and UK at UN over attacks on Yemen rebels for strikes on Red Sea ships

Russia and China clash with US and UK at UN over attacks on Yemen rebels for strikes on Red Sea ships
  • Russian, Chinese envoys argued that the UN Security Council never authorized military action against Yemen
  • The Houthi attacks are illegal, and the strikes against them are being taken in self-defense, counter US, UK envoys

UNITED NATIONS: Russia and China on Wednesday accused the United States and Britain of illegally attacking military sites used by Yemen’s Houthi rebels to launch missiles at commercial vessels in the Red Sea, disrupting global shipping.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood and UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward countered that the Houthi attacks are illegal, and their “proportionate and legal action” against the Yemen rebels are being taken in self-defense.
Woodward said the Houthi attacks are “driving up the costs of global shipping, including the costs of food supplies and humanitarian aid in the region.”
But Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky and China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun argued that the UN Security Council never authorized military action against Yemen.
The clashes came at a council meeting where UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said promising efforts to restore peace to Yemen have been slowed by rising regional tensions linked to the war in Gaza and “in particular the military escalation in the Red Sea.”
Since November, the Houthi rebels have targeted ships in the Red Sea to demand a ceasefire in Israel’s offensive in Gaza. They have frequently attacked vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperiling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Mideast and Europe.
In recent weeks, the United States and the United Kingdom, backed by other allies, have launched airstrikes targeting Houthi missile arsenals and launch sites for its attacks.
Wood, the US envoy, said American strikes in response to attacks on US naval vessels, “aim to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ ability to continue their reckless attacks against vessels and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden.”
Since 2014, he said, Iran has provided the Houthis with “a growing arsenal of advanced weapons” that they have used to target commercial ships, and “Iran cannot deny its role in enabling and supporting the attacks carried out by the Houthis.”
Wood accused the Houthis of “trying to apply a chokehold on global shipping through the Red Sea” and urged all countries, especially those with direct channels to Iran, “to press Iran’s leaders to rein in the Houthis and stop these lawless attacks.”
Russia’s Polyansky stressed that Moscow “categorically condemns attacks and seizures of commercial vessels and (...) any attacks which impede freedom of navigation.” He said Russia has conveyed messages to the Houthi leaders to focus on Yemen’s domestic agenda and pursue peace.
Grundberg, the UN envoy, said that in late December the Houthis, who control the capital and much of the country’s north, and Yemen’s internationally recognized government “committed to a nationwide ceasefire, measures to improve living conditions, and restarting an intra-Yemeni political process.”
But he said Yemen’s peace process can’t be cordoned off from the events in the region, and the US and UK attacks on Houthi targets, and the US designation of the Houthis as a “Specially Designated Terrorist Group” are “concerning.”
“Despite potential complications, my work will continue no matter what,” he said. “It is therefore imperative that we protect the political space, that communication channels are kept open and that all actors remain actively engaged with my efforts.”
Russia’s Polyansky said the root cause of the current situation is Israel’s military offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7, which has provoked a chain reaction in the Middle East including by the Houthis.
“An immediate ceasefire in Gaza will help to stabilize the situation in the Red Sea, and the de-escalation in those waters will in turn unblock the efforts of the special envoy, Mr. Grundberg,” Polyansky said.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis swept down from their northern stronghold and chased the internationally recognized government from Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year on behalf of the government and in time the conflict turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The war has devastated Yemen, already the Arab region’s poorest country, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
Edem Wosornu, the UN humanitarian office’s director of operations, told the council that Yemen faces “massive continuing needs.”
This year, she said, over 18 million people – over half the country’s population – will need humanitarian aid.
The UN anticipates that 17.6 million people will be “severely food insecure” — facing serious hunger, she said. “Nearly half of all children under five face moderate to severe stunting” of their growth and development.
Last year, the UN received just 40 percent of its $4.3 billion humanitarian appeal, she said. This year, the Yemen appeal is more targeted and seeks $2.7 billion to reach 11.2 million people across Yemen.
 


Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive

Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive
Updated 6 sec ago
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Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive

Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive
  • Israel has said it plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah during an anticipated offensive on the southern city
  • The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians
Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press appear to show a new compound of tents being built near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip as the Israeli military continues to signal it plans an offensive targeting the city of Rafah.
The tent construction is near Khan Younis, which has been targeted by repeated Israeli military operations over recent weeks. Israel has said it plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah during an anticipated offensive on the southern city, where hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge during the war, now in its seventh month.
Also Monday, a failed rocket strike was launched at a base housing US-led coalition forces at Rumalyn, Syria, marking the first time since Feb. 4 that Iranian-backed militias have attacked a US facility in Iraq or Syria, a US defense official said. No personnel were injured in the attack, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The conflict has sparked regional unrest pitting Israel and the US against Iran and allied militant groups across the Middle East. Israel and Iran traded fire directly this month, raising fears of all-out war.
The war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which Hamas and other militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.
The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, at least two-thirds of them children and women. It has devastated Gaza’s two largest cities and left a swath of destruction. Around 80 percent of the territory’s population have fled to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave.
The US House of Representatives approved a $26 billion aid package on Saturday that includes around $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, which experts say is on the brink of famine, as well as billions for Israel. The US Senate could pass the package as soon as Tuesday, and President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’

Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’
Updated 23 April 2024
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Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’

Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’
  • EU foreign ministers agreed in principle to expand sanctions on Iran by agreeing to extend restrictive measures on Tehran’s weapons exports

DUBAI: European Union sanctions announced following Iran’s attack against Israel are “regrettable” because the country was acting in self-defense, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian posted on X on Tuesday.
Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles on Israel in what it said was retaliation against a suspected Israeli bombing of its embassy compound in Damascus.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed in principle to expand sanctions on Iran by agreeing to extend restrictive measures on Tehran’s weapons exports of any drone or missile to Iranian proxies and Russia.
“It is regrettable to see the EU deciding quickly to apply more unlawful restrictions against Iran just because Iran exercised its right to self-defense in the face of Israel’s reckless aggression,” Amirabdollahian said on X, before calling on the EU to apply sanctions on Israel instead.
More work will need to follow in Brussels to approve a legal framework before the expansion of the sanctions can take effect.


Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
Updated 23 April 2024
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Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
  • Rights issues include credible reports of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture, says report
  • Israeli military's conduct has come under scrutiny as its forces have killed over 34,000 in Gaza since Oct. 7

WASHINGTON: The war between Israel and Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis has had “a significant negative impact” on the human rights situation in the country, the US State Department said in its annual report on Monday.

Significant human rights issues include credible reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and unjustified arrests of journalists among others, said the State Department’s 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

The report added that the Israeli government has taken some credible steps to identify and punish the officials who may have been involved in those abuses.

Israel’s military conduct has come under increasing scrutiny as its forces have killed 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health authorities, many of them civilians and children. The Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine.

Israel launched its assault in response to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7, in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed.

Rights groups have flagged numerous incidents of civilian harm during the Israeli army’s offensive in Gaza, as well as raised alarm about rising violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian Health Ministry records show Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 460 Palestinians since Oct. 7. But so far the Biden administration has said it has not found Israel in breach of international law.

Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to its longtime ally. Leftist Democrats and Arab American groups have criticized the Biden administration’s steadfast support for Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity.

But this month, President Joe Biden for the first time threatened to condition support for Israel, and insisted that it take concrete steps to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilians.


Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
Updated 23 April 2024
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Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
  • The Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine

WASHINGTON: The war between Israel and Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis has had “a significant negative impact” on the human rights situation in the country, the US State Department said in its annual report on Monday.
Significant human rights issues include credible reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and unjustified arrests of journalists among others, said the State Department’s 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The report added that the Israeli government has taken some credible steps to identify and punish the officials who may have been involved in those abuses.
Israel’s military conduct has come under increasing scrutiny as its forces have killed 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health authorities, many of them civilians and children. The Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine.
Israel launched its assault in response to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7, in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed.
Rights groups have flagged numerous incidents of civilian harm during the Israeli army’s offensive in Gaza, as well as raised alarm about rising violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian Health Ministry records show Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 460 Palestinians since Oct. 7. But so far the Biden administration has said it has not found Israel in breach of international law.
Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to its longtime ally. Leftist Democrats and Arab American groups have criticized the Biden administration’s steadfast support for Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity.
But this month, President Joe Biden for the first time threatened to condition support for Israel, and insisted that it take concrete steps to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilians.


Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’

Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’
Updated 23 April 2024
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Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’

Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’
  • Narges Mohammadi issues plea from Evin prison amid new crackdown by Tehran’s morality police

JEDDAH: Jailed Iranian Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi urged Iranians on Monday to protest against the clerical regime’s “war against women” amid a new crackdown forcing women to cover their heads.
Mohammadi, who is being held in Evin prison in Tehran, called on Iranian women to share their stories of arrest and sexual assault at the hands of the authorities.
Iran launched a nationwide operation this month to enforce the wearing of the headscarf. Women have been arrested and taken to police stations by the morality police, and the Farsi hashtag meaning “war against women” has been trending on social media.
“People of Iran, I ask you, artists, intellectuals, workers, teachers, and students ... inside and outside the country to protest against this war against women,” Mohammadi said in a message from inside the prison. “Do not underestimate the power of sharing your experiences. Doing so will expose the misogynistic government and bring it to its knees.” She accused the authorities of bringing “a full-scale war against all women to every street in Iran.”
Mohammadi said she had been joined in jail by Dina Ghalibaf, a journalist and student who was arrested after accusing security forces on social media of putting her in handcuffs and sexually assaulting her during a previous arrest at a metro station. “For years, we have witnessed many women who have endured assault, abuse, and beatings by government agents,” Mohammadi said.
Mohammadi, 52, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year in recognition of her campaign for human rights in Iran, which has led to her spending much of the past two decades in and out of jail. She has been imprisoned since November 2021 and has not seen her husband and twin children, who live in Paris, for several years.