THE HOUTHI Ansarullah movement says any political solution to the Yemen conflict should begin with an end to the US-sponsored Saudi military aggression and the blockade on the impoverished state.
‘We renew our firm position that any comprehensive, just and lasting political solution will not be practically achieved before ending the aggression and lifting the siege,’ Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam tweeted on Thursday.
His comments come as Yemen is marking the fifth anniversary of the military campaign that the Saudi regime and its allies launched against the impoverished nation with the support of the US and its Western allies in 2015 to reinstall a former Riyadh-friendly government.
The Yemeni official described the war as an American campaign of aggression ‘executed by Saudi-Emirati tools’, saying the offensive has achieved ‘nothing but arbitrary massacres, the likes of which the world has never seen.’
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Yemen’s rival parties to work with his Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve a nation-wide de-escalation, saying, a political solution is the only way to a comprehensive and sustainable resolution of the conflict in Yemen.
It followed an earlier call by Guterres for ‘an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world’ to tackle the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Yemen’s Ansarullah movement welcomed the request by the UN chief for a global ceasefire to help the world better focus on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
He also warned that in war-torn countries health systems have collapsed and the small number of health professionals left were often targeted in the fighting.
On Wednesday, Mahdi al-Mashat, the president of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council welcomed Guterres’ call for a ceasefire in the conflict-ridden country.
‘We welcome the UN secretary-general’s call for cease-fire … we reaffirmed our readiness to deal with all peace initiatives to achieve a comprehensive political solution,’ he said in a televised speech. ‘We are ready to cooperate to move from war stage to peace.’
Meanwhile, Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said the alliance supports Griffiths’ efforts towards a ceasefire in Yemen.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, also tweeted that the coalition’s announcement of support for a ceasefire is welcomed and that the Houthis are waiting for it to be applied practically.
Human Rights Watch says Saudi forces and their allies have committed serious abuses against Yemeni civilians since June last year in al-Mahrah.
According to a tally released last November by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project or ACLED, over 100,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war.
The Western-backed bombing campaign, coupled with a naval blockade, has plunged Yemen into what the UN says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Yemen has not recorded any Covid-19 cases to date, but the possibility of an outbreak threatens the country’s fragile healthcare system, which is already struggling to fight cholera and dengue fever.
- Nine high-profile members of US Congress are calling on the Trump administration to end sanctions on Iran as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to denounce the administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign amid the country’s efforts to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak along with the rest of the world’s countries.
The letter was signed by Representative Ilhan Omar, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Jared Huffman, Senator Ed Markey, Representative Joaquin Castro, Representative Ayanna Pressley, and Representative Barbara Lee.
A manager of an Iranian knowledge-based company says their indigenous coronavirus diagnostic test kits are ready to go to the global market.
‘Rather than continue to pile on sanctions in the Iranian people’s hour of need, we urge you to substantially suspend sanctions on Iran in a humanitarian gesture to the Iranian people to better enable them to fight the virus,’ read the letter.
‘Sanctions relief should encompass major sectors of the Iranian economy, including those impacting civilian industries, Iran’s banking sector and exports of oil, and should last for at least as long as health experts believe the crisis will continue.
‘Failure to do so risks inhibiting the delivery of key humanitarian goods, and putting the Iranian people into further health and economic peril.’
The letter was signed amid global calls on Washington to put an end to the illegal sanctions.
Iran has confirmed 27,000 cases of coronavirus since the infection was spotted in the country on February 19.
The US sanctions against Iran have endangered ‘the lives of many people not just in Iran, but also across the globe,’ said Iran’s UN envoy.
More than 9,000 people have recovered and 2,077 have died of the virus, according to the latest figures provided by the health ministry.
Human rights activists are, in part, using the #endcovidsanctions on social media to address Washington’s illegal sanctions amid the fast-spreading pandemic.
- China blasted the US over the move to sale a warship through the Taiwan Strait, accusing Washington of ‘dangerous’ behaviour.
‘US moves have seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs, severely harmed peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and poisoned Sino-US military ties,’ Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said. Criticising the US’s ‘continued negative actions’ in Taiwan, Ren warned that US actions were ‘extremely dangerous’.
Earlier, the US Seventh Fleet reported that the USS McCampbell, an Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, carried out a ‘routine’ freedom of navigation mission through the sensitive 180km-wide Taiwan Strait.
Anthony Junco, a US Navy spokesman, said the ship carried out a ‘routine Taiwan Strait transit March 25 (local time) in accordance with international law.’ The ship’s transit, Junco said, ‘demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.’
The spokesman added that the Navy would ‘continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows’. Taiwan’s military, meanwhile, said it monitored the US destroyer’s movement as it sailed north through the strait.
This was the second time the US has sailed a warship through the Strait since January, when the US Navy demonstratively sent a ship to the area following elections in Taiwan. China said at the time that it ‘closely monitored’ that passage.
Taiwan staged massive naval, air force and army drills this week, a week after the island’s military reported intercepting and driving away multiple People’s Liberation Army Air Force jets after they crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Taipei has called the actions of the Chinese military a ‘provocation’.
Beijing considers Taiwan a part of its territory, and maintains its right to one day reunite the island with the mainland. Taiwan split from mainland China during the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
The United States, Taiwan’s biggest protector and ally, has regularly sent vessels through the Strait, and has sold the country advanced weaponry, even while de jure recognising the People’s Republic as the sole sovereign Chinese state.
Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington against interfering in Taiwan’s internal affairs, and has demanded that the US cancel any official and military contacts with the island, on pain of sanctions against US companies.