Yemen president accuses UN envoy Griffiths of siding with Houthis

UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths was accused in a letter from the Yemeni president of undermining the chances of peace. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2019

Yemen president accuses UN envoy Griffiths of siding with Houthis

  • Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi sent a letter to the UN chief saying he would no longer work with Griffiths
  • Letter accuses Griffiths of treating the militia as a 'de-facto government'

SANAA: Yemen’s internationally recognized president sent a letter to the UN chief, criticizing his envoy to the country over allegedly siding with Iran-aligned Houthi militia, the president’s office said Friday.
In the letter addressed to Antonio Guterres, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi accused Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy to Yemen, of undermining chances for peace. Hadi also warns his government would stop dealing with the UN envoy.
“I can no longer tolerate the violations committed by the special envoy, which threaten prospects for a solution,” read the five-page letter, a copy of which was released to reporters Thursday.
It also accuses Griffiths of treating the militia as a "de-facto government and as an equal to the legitimate and elected government” of Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthi rebels. A coalition of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, allied with Hadi’s government, has been fighting the Houthis since March 2015.
The fighting has killed an estimated 60,000 people and left millions suffering from lack of food and medical care.
Tensions arose between Griffiths and Hadi last week after the UN announced the long-delayed Houthi withdrawal from the flashpoint port city of Hodeidah.
Hadi’s government accused Griffiths at the time of turning a blind eye that the militants had allegedly only handed control of the port to “militia leaders” loyal to them. The “redeployment of Houthis” from Hodeidah was part of a UN-brokered deal concluded in December.
Hadi went on to say that Griffiths’s “poor understanding” of the Yemeni conflict makes him unfit for his post.
While briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Yemen last week, Griffiths urged the warring sides to maintain the momentum of the Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah — the country’s lifeline to foreign aid — and to work urgently on a political solution to the devastating conflict.
There were “signs of hope” but “also alarming signs” that could threaten progress, Griffiths said, a reference to continuing clashes in the southern Dhale province.
Later Friday, Houthi leader Mohamed Ali Al-Houthi tweeted that Hadi’s letter to the UN chief was “a miserable attempt to curtail peace.”


Palestinian politicians voice dismay over ‘historic agreement’

Updated 39 min 25 sec ago

Palestinian politicians voice dismay over ‘historic agreement’

  • This agreement is a betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause, complains Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
  • A widespread Palestinian fear is that the UAE-Israel agreement could weaken the Arab Peace Initiative

AMMAN: Palestinian politicians have reacted with dismay to the US-brokered agreement that will postpone the annexation of the West Bank while the UAE and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.

The deal was reached after talks between US President Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an urgent meeting of the Arab League after Thursday’s joint announcement by the UAE, Israel and the US.

“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the surprising UAE-Israeli-US trilateral announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas, reading from a statement outside the president’s headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Abu Rudeineh described the agreement as a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.”

Tel Aviv City Hall is lit up with the flags of the UAE and Israel as the countries announced they would be establishing full diplomatic ties on Thursday. (AP)

If implemented formally, the deal will pave the way for the UAE to become the third Arab country to have official relations with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo accords in 1993 and 1995. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, while Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords in 1978.

A widespread Palestinian fear is that the UAE-Israel agreement could weaken the Arab Peace Initiative, brokered by then Crown Prince (later King) Abdullah in 2002, which called for full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land in return for full normalization with Israel.

Jamal Dajani, a former spokesman for the Palestinian prime minister, said Palestinians feel betrayed by the UAE, whose move at this critical time undermines their struggle for independence.

“Israel’s so-called plan of annexation is illegal and a non-starter. Netanyahu knew this, so did Trump,” Dajani told Arab News.

“President Trump said that the ‘ice has been broken,’ but in fact trust has been lost.”

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Mustafa Barghouti, head of Al-Mubadara (the Initiative), an independent Palestinian political party, issued a statement calling the UAE action a “stab in the back of Palestinians.”

He said the deal endorses Israel’s decision to suspend rather than cancel the planned annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

Hamadeh Faraneh, an Amman-based member of Palestine National Council, said the decision is neither historic nor surprising because it has been known for some time that Israel and the UAE have been in regular contact.


ALSO READ: Full text of joint statement on UAE and Israel normalizing ties


He said the decision is at odds with the Arab Peace Initiative and “amounts to a reversal of the order of things.”

“Instead of the end of occupation preceding normalization, we have now normalization without any idea if there will be an end to the occupation,” he told Arab News.

The joint statement by the UAE, Israel and the US said: “Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations.”

However, Aaron David Miller, a former US peace envoy to the Middle East and a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, described the agreement as a “historic decision” that represents three wins and one loss.”

According to Miller, it is a win for the leaders of Israel, the UAE and the US, but a loss for Palestinians.

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Twitter: @daoudkuttab

 

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