UN envoy hails ‘tireless’ Saudi efforts on southern Yemen as STC delegation heads to Jeddah

The United Nations envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts in restoring stability in south Yemen. (File/Reuters)
Updated 26 August 2019
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UN envoy hails ‘tireless’ Saudi efforts on southern Yemen as STC delegation heads to Jeddah

  • Griffiths made the comments following ‘positive meeting’ with Saudi official
  • The UN envoy said they agreed on the need for continuous dialogue

JEDDAH: The United Nations envoy to Yemen praised the “tireless role” played by Saudi Arabia in restoring stability to the country’s south.
Griffiths made the comments on Tuesday after a “positive and engaging meeting” with the Kingdom’s Deputy Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman.

Meanwhile, the president of Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) headed with a delegation to Jeddah On Tuesday after accepting the Kingdom's invitation to a summit to calm tensions Aden between separatists and government forces.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE at the weekend oversaw the withdrawal of southern separatists from positions they had seized from the Yemeni government in the temporary capital Aden.
The Arab coalition, which includes the two Gulf countries, ordered that the fighters stand down and they revert to helping the government fight the Iran-backed Houthi militants, which controls the north.
Griffiths praised the Kingdom’s “tireless role under Khalid bin Salman’s leadership to restore order and stability in south Yemen.” 
“We agreed on the need for continuous dialogue,” he added in a tweet.
Briefing a UN Security Council meeting later on Tuesday, Griffiths also reiterated his praise of the Kingdom's efforts in Yemen and its hosting of the dialogue process in Jeddah, "which must take place as soon as possible."
Yemen’s latest crisis erupted when southern separatist forces seized the presidential palace and army camps in Aden.
Dozens of people, including civilians, were killed in violent clashes.


Saudi Arabia and the UAE urged Yemenis to observe a cease-fire in Aden and resolve their differences through dialogue.
The separatists, who want an independent south Yemen, had agreed to support the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to defeat the Houthis from the north who sparked the conflict in 2014 when they seized Sanaa.
But tensions between the separatists and Hadi’s forces have spilled over on a number of occasions in Aden.
Griffiths said he was alarmed by the violence in Aden and Abyan. "I condemn the unacceptable efforts by the Southern Transitional Council to take control of state institutions," he added.
He said the incidents in Aden raise unanswered questions about Yemen's future and the port city must be under the exclusive control of Yemeni state institutions.
Griffiths also told the Security Council via a video link that he "condemned the ongoing Houthi attacks on civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia."
In recent days, the Iran-backed militia launched 10 drones towards a Saudi Aramco gas plant, which was condemned by the international community and the Arab coalition said that the Houthis are threatening global energy supplies.
Griffiths said: "the division of Yemen has become a real threat and we must redouble our efforts. Yemen must return to normal to prevent the disruption of the social fabric."
He also said that there have been discussions about the exchange of Yemeni prisoners, but negotiations are slow and prolong their suffering.
Meanwhile, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller said infrastructure and water networks were heavily damaged in the Aden clashes.
She said the World Food Programme and the Houthis signed an agreement to protect food aid but humanitarian agencies are suffering enormous restrictions in the north imposed by the militants.
"More than 100 humanitarian projects await Houthi approval and the UN faces difficulties in northern Yemen due to restrictions and harassment," she added.
"Yemen remains the biggest challenge for humanitarian agencies," Mueller told the Security Council.

 


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago
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Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

JEDDAH: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the Kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, where an Arab coalition has been fighting to restore the internationally recognized government.
But the Wall Street Journal reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Kuwait says it is increasing security across the state and is investigating the sighting of a drone over its territory and is coordinating with Saudi Arabia and other countries, the cabinet said on Sunday.
“The security leadership has started the necessary investigations over the sighting of a drone over the coastline of Kuwait City and what measures were taken to confront it,” the cabinet said on its Twitter account.
It said Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah directed military and security officers to tighten security at vital installations in the OPEC producer and to take all necessary measures “to protect Kuwait’s security.”
Separately, state-run KUNA news agency said authorities would investigate reports of drones flying over Kuwait. It did not elaborate.
Local Kuwaiti media has reported that witnesses say they saw a drone near a presidential palace on Saturday morning, around the same time of the attacks in Saudi Arabia.
Some Iraqi media outlets have said Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities came from Iraq, which borders Kuwait. But Baghdad denied this on Sunday and vowed to punish anyone using Iraq as a launch pad for attacks in the region. 
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.