UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls for immediate cease-fire in Yemen
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen and begun the hunt for a new peace envoy to the war-torn country, where al-Qaida is expanding its territory.
Ban’s plea follows more than three weeks of air strikes by a Saudiled coalition aimed at driving back Iran-backed rebels whose sweeping advance forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh.
Yemen “is in flames,” Ban told the press in Washington on Thursday. “I am calling for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen by all parties.”
His remarks followed the resignation of his envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, a Moroccanborn career diplomat who lost the confidence of Saudi Arabia and its allies. They accused him of being duped by the rebels.
Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran, renewed its calls for dialogue on Friday and said its foreign minister had spoken to the U.N. chief overnight.
Ban said he was in the process of finding a new envoy “who can be immediately deployed” to seek a political solution.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider alAbadi, a Shiite who has offered a rare voice of opposition to the cam- paign among Arab leaders, called Thursday for a political solution to quickly end the conflict.
“We are on the same boat in the region. If anybody makes a hole in that boat, we all will sink,” he said, speaking at a Washington thinktank.
“In our own belief we think an end to this war of Yemen must be very soon and the only way forward is a political solution by Yemenis themselves.”
Yemen is a front line in the U.S. war on al-Qaida, which has exploited the growing turmoil to expand its control of areas in the southeast of the deeply tribal Arabian Peninsula country.