Hope for Ye­men talks amid US-dis­puted mil­i­tary sup­port for Saudi Ara­bia

FIGHT­ING CON­TIN­UES AS COALI­TION FACES MOUNT­ING PRES­SURE A UN-BRO­KERED SUM­MIT IN SWE­DEN IS IN PREPA­RA­TION TO BE HELD IN THE COM­ING WEEK, PROSPECTS FOR WHICH ARE UN­KNOWN AMID A DIS­AS­TROUS IN­CON­CLU­SIVE WAR IN YE­MEN SAUDI CROWN PRINCE MO­HAMED BIN SAL­MAN, WHOM

The Daily News Egypt - - In-focus - By Amira El-Fekki

A UN-bro­kered sum­mit in Swe­den is in prepa­ra­tion to be held in the com­ing week, prospects for which are un­known amid a dis­as­trous in­con­clu­sive war in Ye­men.

UN Un­der-Sec­re­tary Gen­eral for Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs and Emer­gency Re­lief Co­or­di­na­tor Mark Low­cock ar­rived in the cap­i­tal Sana’a on Thurs­day,from where he ex­pressed con­cern over the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion, and called on par­ties to end the fight­ing.

Del­e­ga­tions from both sides, Houthis and Ab­del Rabu Man­sour Hadi, have been re­ported to at­tend the sum­mit.

How­ever, UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res on Thurs­day played down hopes for an im­mi­nent break­through on end­ing Ye­men’s bru­tal war,AFP re­ported.

“I don’t want to raise ex­pec­ta­tions too high, but we are work­ing hard in or­der to en­sure that we can still start mean­ing­ful peace talks this year,” he said ahead of the G20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina.“But, as you know, there have been some set­backs,” he said, point­ing in part to Saudi Ara­bia’s con­cerns over con­tin­ued rocket at­tacks by the Houthis.

Since March 2015,a Saudi-led coali­tion com­prised ofArab states has been at war with Ira­nian-backed Houthis over power in Ye­men.

This comes as fight­ing con­tin­ues and has es­ca­lated since the coali­tion launched an of­fen­sive at­tack agaist the port city of Hu­day­deh, driv­ing thou­sands of peo­ple out of the area.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN Hu­man Rights Of­fice, at least 6,660 civil­ians were killed and 10,563 were in­jured be­tween March 2015 and Au­gust 2018, yet real fig­ures are es­ti­mated to be higher.

Hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis and coali­tion re­spon­si­bil­ity

“Fight­ing con­tin­ues in eastern and south­ern ar­eas of al Hu­day­dah. The main road to Sana’a re­mains in­ac­ces­si­ble to hu­man­i­tar­ian part­ners due to fight­ing,” UNICEF said in its lat­est re­port in Septem­ber.

Over 85,000 chil­dren have died be­cause of a war-in­duced famine since the be­gin­ning of the war, and mil­lions are at risk of star­va­tion.

The UN has de­scribed the war in Ye­men as the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.“As the con­flict en­ters its fourth year, more than 22 mil­lion peo­ple – three-quar­ters of the pop­u­la­tion – need hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and pro­tec­tion,” Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res re­marked in an April donor con­fer­ence in Geneva.

In Au­gust, the UN panel of ex­perts is­sued a 40-page de­tailed re­port, man­dated by the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, to carry out a com­pre­hen­sive ex­am­i­na­tion of the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

“Among their con­clu­sions, the ex­perts say in­di­vid­u­als in the gov­ern­ment of Ye­men and the coali­tion, in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE, and the de facto au­thor­i­ties have com­mit­ted acts that may, sub­ject to de­ter­mi­na­tion by an in­de­pen­dent and com­pe­tent court, amount to in­ter­na­tional crimes,” the re­port said.

It noted that coali­tion air strikes have caused most di­rect civil­ian ca­su­al­ties by hit­ting res­i­den­tial ar­eas, mar­kets, fu­ner­als, wed­dings, de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties, civil­ian boats, and even med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties.

“There is lit­tle ev­i­dence of any at­tempt by par­ties to the con­flict to min­imise civil­ian ca­su­al­ties. I call on them to pri­ori­tise hu­man dig­nity in this for­got­ten con­flict,” said Kamel Jen­doubi, chair­per­son of the Group of In­ter­na­tional and Re­gional Em­i­nent Ex­perts onYe­men.

Along came the Khashoggi case for Saud Ara­bia

The out­break of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi’s mur­der in­side his con­sulate in Turkey led to an in­crease in the crit­i­cism of the king­dom over the Ye­meni war, and the dire hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion.

Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hamed bin Sal­man, whom ac­cord­ing to a leaked CIA re­port is be­lieved to have or­dered the killing, is mak­ing his first in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance this week in the G20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina un­der global scru­tiny, as ques­tions soar over how world lead­ers will han­dle his pres­ence.

The crown prince last week vis­ited with re­gional al­lies, or “broth­erly coun­tries” as de­scribed by Saudi of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, where he re­ceived a warm wel­come. But in his last stop, Tu­nisia, or­gan­ised protests de­cried the reck­less­ness of bin Sal­man’s poli­cies, cit­ing “crimes against hu­man­ity” in Ye­men.

InTu­nisia and in­Ar­gentina pros­e­cu­tors are also sep­a­rately look­ing into bring­ing charges against the crown prince over crimes in Ye­men, seek­ing to in­voke in­ter­na­tional ju­ris­dic­tion.

How­ever, be­sides sup­port­ers among Arab coun­tries, bin Sal­man en­joys the sup­port of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on the Khashoggi case.

“King Sal­man and Crown Prince Mo­ham­mad bin Sal­man vig­or­ously deny any knowl­edge of the plan­ning or ex­e­cu­tion of the mur­der […] but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowl­edge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump re­marked in a 20 Novem­ber state­ment sig­nalling sup­port for the king­dom.

Vague US po­si­tion

Af­ter the Khashoggi case, eth­i­cal ques­tions in­ten­si­fied in the US about sup­port­ing the king­dom, es­pe­cially in the Ye­men war.

On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, the Se­nate voted to ad­vance a res­o­lu­tion that would end all US in­volve­ment in the Saudi-led war in­Ye­men by an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity.

De­fence Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo tried to con­vince se­na­tors to do the op­po­site in a brief­ing be­fore the vote, de­spite hav­ing pre­vi­ously showed in­ter­est in a cease­fire in­Ye­men, and en­cour­aged po­lit­i­cal talks ex­pected in Swe­den.

“The suf­fer­ing in Ye­men grieves me, but if the United States of Amer­ica was not in­volved in­Ye­men, it would be a hell of a lot worse. What would hap­pen if the US with­drew from theYe­men ef­fort? Guess what: The war wouldn’t end,” The Na­tional quoted Pom­peo as say­ing on Wed­nes­day.

In a com­men­tary to the Wall Street Jour­nal, he ar­gued that Amer­i­can politi­cians have and are still us­ing the “king­dom’s hu­man­rights record to call for the al­liance’s down­grad­ing.” He added: “But de­grad­ing US-Saudi ties would be a grave mis­take for the na­tional se­cu­rity of the US and its al­lies.”

“Saudi Ara­bia would gladly with­draw from Ye­men if the Ira­ni­ans would agree to leave,” Trump also said in his Novem­ber state­ment.

At least 6,660 civil­ians were killed and 10,563 were in­jured be­tween March 2015 and Au­gust 2018, yet real fig­ures are es­ti­mated to be higher

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