Yemen Envoy Ould Cheikh Resumes Talks after Getting Term Extension


Cairo, London and New York – United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed will commence a new round of consultations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman aimed at finding the basis for resuming negotiations between the Yemeni government and Houthi and Saleh insurgents to reach a comprehensive settlement for the crisis, diplomatic sources affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Another Arab diplomat meanwhile revealed that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres extended the term of Ould Cheikh for six months.

Ould Cheikh will start his round of talks once he returns from New York where he was participating in the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

Sources stressed that talks will kick off from outcomes of the national dialogue, Gulf initiative, the related UN Security Council resolutions and Arab Summits on Yemen.

Talks will also tackle the suggested date to start negotiations between the crisis parties in Yemen. It has been proposed to hold the talks in October in either Kuwait or Oman, said the sources.

Ould Cheikh reiterated, as reported by Sky News Arabia, that the humanitarian situation in Yemen has become catastrophic, holding all parties are responsible for it. He added that although the crisis is humanitarian, its resolution is political.

Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al Sabah said during his speech at the General Assembly that his country has exerted relentless efforts to settle the conflict in Yemen peacefully.

Moreover, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit met Ould Cheikh on the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the latter’s contacts with international, regional and Yemeni parties related to the crisis.

Arab League Chief Visits Baghdad, Erbil in Search of ‘Compromise’ over Referendum Rift

Cairo, Erbil- The referendum on independence scheduled for September 25 in Iraq’s Kurdistan region was the main topic of discussion at the talks held by Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Baghdad and Erbil on Saturday.

Aboul Gheit spokesman said that the visit to Iraq is in search of a “compromise” between Baghdad and Erbil. On the other hand, a consultant in the presidency of the Kurdistan region said that the referendum will not be postponed without international guarantees.

Mahmoud Afifi, Spokesman for the Secretary-General of the League, said that Aboul Gheit’s visit was part of his diplomatic efforts to preserve the territorial integrity of the Arab League member state.

Afifi added that Aboul Gheit’s message to Baghdad and Erbil is the need to show the spirit of “compromise” and calm approach, and to adopt the principles of dialogue and adherence to the constitution.

Kurdistan’s leadership answers to all questions and advice of Aboul Gheit, stressing that the referendum will not be postponed unless there are “international guarantees written and signed by Baghdad and the United States and perhaps other parties,” Kurdistan presidency media adviser Kifah Mahmoud told Asharq Al-Awsat.

President Masoud Barzani told the visiting Arab League chief that it is not the decision of an individual to delay the referendum in response to a request from the head of the pan-Arab group for Kurdistan to postpone the vote “for a period of time” while talks are held between Erbil and Baghdad under the watch of the international community.

Barzani said the decision to hold the independence referendum belongs to the people and political parties of Kurdistan.

Barzani met with Aboul Gheit in the company of members of the High Referendum Council.

Aboul-Gheit arrived in Baghdad and met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to confirm AL’s keenness to preserve Iraq’s unity and revive dialogue between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region ahead of the latter’s independence referendum.

The AL chief urged Iraqi leaders to focus on “completing the liberation of Iraq’s territory and resorting to dialogue, as well as to abiding by the Iraqi constitution to resolve any problems,” according to a statement issued by Abadi’s office.

On June 7, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25, a step which has been criticized by Baghdad as “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Doha Anticipates Outcome of Quartet Meeting by Escalating Rhetoric


Dammam, Cairo– Few hours before the expected meeting between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to study the Qatari response to the list of 13 demands, Doha has escalated its rhetoric,the affirming that the demands were impossible to meet.

Kuna news agency reported that Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah’s envoy, Khaled Youssef al-Fulaij, has delivered a “response letter” to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, without elaborating on the content of the letter.

The Kuwaiti emir met on Tuesday with Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah to discuss efforts to resolve the crisis with Qatar.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani announced Tuesday that the demands made by the four Arab nations were impossible to achieve.

During a joint news conference in Doha with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Al Thani said the list of demands “is unrealistic and is not actionable.”

He also stressed that any solution to the current crisis should be achieved through negotiations, reiterating that punishments imposed on Doha were illegal measures taken under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The German minister, for his part, said his country had good relations with Qatar and with other GCC states, noting in this regard that Germany would not take any sides in the current dispute.

“We are working with all GCC state-members for the region’s stability and security,” Gabriel said.

On the eve of the Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo, between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to discuss the crisis with Qatar, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit reiterated his support to the Kuwaiti mediation and expressed his readiness to deploy efforts in this context if the concerned parties desire so.

Abul Gheit’s comments came following his meeting in Rome on Tuesday with Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Angelino Alfano.

The secretary general’s spokesperson, Minister Delegate Mahmoud Afifi, said that the two officials have exchanged views on current crises and latest developments in the Middle East.

King Salman Invites Egyptian President, Sultan of Brunei to Arab-Islamic-US Summit in Riyadh

Egyptian president receives Saudi Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet Dr. Issam bin Saad bin Saeed, on May 13,

Cairo, Brunei- Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz sent a message to the Egyptian President Abdulfattah Al-Sisi, inviting him to attend the Arab-Islamic-US summit, set to take place in Riyadh later in May.

During a meeting in Cairo, the Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet Dr. Issam bin Saad bin Saeed handed over the message to the president.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, who is also the Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Qattan.

Sisi voiced his appreciation for the invitation of the Saudi monarch, stating that he wished for a positive outcome to the summit “which supports efforts to achieve security and stability in the Middle East.”

King Salman also sent an invitation to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei Darussalam. The message was delivered by Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad during a meeting held with Sultan Bolkiah.

For his part, Sultan Bolkiah voiced his deep appreciation for receiving the invitation and towards the efforts spent by Saudi royalty on preserving and promoting peace and stability in the region, particularly on counterterrorism efforts.

Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad conveyed the greetings and appreciations of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Crown Prince to His Majesty, in addition to their aspiration for the developing of bilateral relations in various fields to achieve the common interests of the two countries.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to the Sultanate of Brunei, Hisham bin Zara’ah.

Arab Countries Reiterate Firm Stance towards Yemen’s Unity, Warn against Separation

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) logo is seen during a meeting in Manama

Cairo, Aden – Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab League warned against the separation calls in Yemen and reiterated the importance of uniting around the legitimacy.

GCC member states collectively adopted firm stance towards the unity and sovereignty of the Republic of Yemen and to called for preserving security and stability in the country.

GCC renewed support for the United Nations efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the Yemeni crisis based on the GCC sponsored initiative with its executive mechanism, outputs of the Yemeni National Dialogue Conference, and UN Security Council Resolutions no. 2216.

GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, stressed that the GCC countries call upon all Yemenis, at this delicate stage in the history of Yemen, to reject division and secession and to stand firmly behind and around the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government led by President Hadi, according to a press statement issued to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Yemenis must reunite around the legitimacy in order to extend the state authority and sovereignty and restore security and stability in all Yemeni territories.

GCC Sec-Gen hoped this would bring normalcy back to the country so that Yemeni people may complete the implementation of the outputs of the comprehensive national dialogue that addressed all Yemeni issues, including the South issue.

He stressed that all intentions to solve such an issue must be done through the Yemeni legitimacy and consensus which is represented in the national dialogue outcomes.

In a statement, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit urged Yemeni people to unite during this difficult moment to avoid division.

Abdul Gheit asked all Yemenis “to pursue solidarity and unity in this hard moment to spare the country the risks of division.”

Arab League Spokesperson Minister Mahmooud Afifi reported that Abul Gheit was “disturbed” by recent developments in Yemen.

Afifi said that the priority now should be to stand against illegitimate forces and aim to reach a comprehensive political settlement in the country based on the UN Resolution 2216, outcomes of national dialogue, and the GCC initiative.

“Opening up a new front leads to create more divisions and prolong the conflict in the country,” he warned.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) renewed its strong commitment to stand with Yemen’s unity, sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity and solidarity with the Yemeni people in their aspiration for freedom, democracy, social justice and comprehensive development.

OIC Secretary-General Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen stressed that the organization is committed to supporting the legitimate government in Yemen in line with the resolutions of the Islamic Summit and the resolutions of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Othaimeen called on all Yemeni parties to stand with legitimacy and reject the calls of division through effective response to international initiatives aimed at reaching a compromise to the Yemeni crisis.

Any unilateral action outside the scope of legitimacy will lead to further fragmentation and disintegration within the one Yemeni entity and will prolong the conflict, according to Othaimeen.

Meanwhile, local councils and executive bureau of Aden governorate, south of Yemen, announced their support to the statement of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi following his meeting with his advisors.

The local authority announced its commitment to the outcomes of the meeting and lauded the efforts of President Hadi to reach a just solution to the southern issue, according to Saba news agency.

In Taiz, the military council asserted its support to the legitimacy, represented by President Hadi, and the outcomes of national dialogue. The council reiterated its support to all goals and efforts to curb all insurgents in the city.

The military council stated its belief in a fair solution based on the three references and praised the continuous support of Saudi-led coalition.

Aboul Gheit Says Egyptian Military Operation Against Ethiopia Unlikely

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit attends an emergency Arab League meeting on Libya, in Cairo

Tunisia, Cairo- Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that an Egyptian military operation against Ethiopia is unlikely due to the ongoing discord on Addis Ababa building El Nahda Dam on Nile.

During a lecture, Aboul Gheit showcased his two books “A Witness of War and Peace” and “Egyptian Foreign Policy from 2004 to 2011”. He expressed certainty that no Arab country stands against Egypt regarding the Ethiopian file and that the problem is represented in the required time for filling the dam.

Speaking of the Egyptian foreign political nature, Aboul Gheit pointed out that the Egyptian presidential regime believes that the head of the state is the one who puts the foreign policy and implements it and this is also applied in countries such as Russia, US and France.

He presented features, topics and complexes of the Egyptian foreign policy especially in the period extending from 2004 until the revolution in January 2011 and the way this policy was managed during Hosni Mubarak’s tenure.

Aboul Gheit added that the discord between US and Egypt started in 2004 and denied that Egypt was affiliated to the US in that time because Egypt gave priority to itself, Arab countries and the peace process in the Middle East.

He also tackled Gulf-Iranian relations and Egypt’s rejection of any threats to the Arab countries, affirming that nuclear weapons are not for use but for deterrence.

In the Egyptian parliament, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry criticized the international silence on the huge support to terrorist groups. He added that the meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz during the Arab Summit revealed solid relations.

King Salman Holds Talks with Several Arab Leaders in Jordan

Dead Sea and Amman – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has held several meetings with Arab leaders on the sidelines of the 28th Arab Summit held in Jordan.

He met separately with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi of the Republic of Tunisia, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and head of Presidential Council of Libya’s Reconciliation Government Fayez Al-Sarraj.

During the talks, the King and the leaders reviewed fraternal relations between the countries and discussed ways of enhancing fields of cooperation. The meetings were attended by a number of officials.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir disclosed that the King invited Sisi for an official visit to the Kingdom in April and that the Egyptian president accepted the invitation.

Jubeir held a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri following the meeting of the two leaders.

Jubeir stated that King Salman and Sisi have confirmed, during their meeting, the depth and firmness of the historic ties binding the two countries in all fields. He added that the relations of the two countries are deeply rooted, working together in defense of the Arab nation.

The Saudi FM told the press that Saudi and Egyptian viewpoints are identical in all fields as well as towards the crises facing the region. He mentioned Arab concerns over the dangerous situation originating from Iran’s actions and policies, its interference in the domestic affairs of Arab countries, provocation of sectarian strife, and support for terrorism in the region. He went on to say that these policies are considered hostile.

Jubeir stated: “Egypt is among the founding countries of supporting legitimacy in Yemen and among the pioneering countries which established the Islamic Military Alliance to fight terrorism.”

He explained that King Salman and Egypt’s president have underscored the importance of this relation and confirmed their wish and plan to work together for its enhancement.

He described the meeting as fruitful, constructive, amicable and very positive.

When asked about the reasons for the delay of implementation of several agreements signed during the previous visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Egypt, Jubeir said that consultation and coordination on those agreements is continuing and that officials in charge of them in both countries are in contract with each other on ways to implement them.

Concerning the Syrian crisis, Jubeir said: “There is an exaggeration in interpreting what is called differences in the Saudi and Egyptian positions. The two countries are seeking to find a political solution to the crisis according to the Geneva I declaration and UN Security Council resolution 2254.”

He confirmed that the two countries are making effective contributions to the Syria Support Group in addition to holding consultations with other states to find a peaceful solution to this crisis.

Shukri said discussions covered regional issues including the situation in Syria, where both countries agreed on the need for a political solution to end the bloodshed in Syria and save the lives of Syrians.

The Egyptian FM confirmed that coordination between the two countries is continuing at all levels- including ministerial and technical- to enhance them.

He said the strategic relations between the two countries are inevitable to achieve stability in the region and face the common challenges.

Egyptian Ambassador Alaa Youssef said that the meeting of the King with Egypt’s president is evidence of their mutual keenness on deepening bilateral relations between the two countries.

King Salman left Jordan where he was seen off by Prince Faisal bin al-Hussain and a number of officials.

He arrived in Riyadh later Wednesday accompanied by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

At King Salman Airbase Airport, the King was received by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior; Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah Region, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense.

During his visit to Jordan, King Salman was accompanied by Prince Khaled bin Fahd bin Khaled; Prince Mansour bin Saud bin Abdulaziz; Prince Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz; Prince Talal bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, and a number of princes, ministers and senior officials.