A "Two-Pillars" Move in the Arabian Peninsula: Pompeo, Mattis Call on Yemen Ceasefire


New York: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls on all participants in the Yemen civil war to support the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, "in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen," and insists that the US-backed Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-aligned Houthis need to stop their respective attacks.

In a joint official statement with the Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Wednesday morning, Pompeo said that "the time is now for the cessation of the hostilities."

He and Mattis referred to both the Coalition air strikes that "must cease in all populated areas in Yemen" and the "missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Also, they pointed out that the conflict needs to be ended "within 30 days."

It is the first time that the Trump administration shows a so strong position on the Yemeni conflict since it took office.

A bold move to end a war that has always seen the United States to support the Saudi coalition fighting the Houthis as they provided training as well as aerial refueling and strategic help.

"We refuel probably less than...I think 20%. They have their own refuelers, by the way," Mattis said referring to Saudis.

With the joint statement by Pompeo and Mattis, Trump administration makes the first bold move in the Arabian peninsula that recalls, in some way, the "Two Pillars Policy".

If former US President Barack Obama has always tried to find a balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran in his foreign positions, Trump has used since his first day in office the Saudi's support to clash with the Iranian government, criticized by the US President under many aspects.

On the Travel Ban, that is having negative effects on the Iranian migrants, dividing families between the US and Teheran.

On the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known as Iran nuclear deal, that under Trump administration the United States decided to withdraw.

Through the sanctions, imposed by the US and effective since November 1, that according to the White House will be "tougher than ever before."

But after Jamal Khashoggi's murder, the Saudi reporter who was recently killed by Saudi agents, strangled and dismembered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul according to a recent Istanbul chief prosecutor's statement, something has changed.

Saudi Arabia doesn't look to have the upper hand with the United States and the international community as before.

On Wednesday, according to an article published by The Guardian, a UN internal document showed that Saudi Arabia has demanded that aid agencies operating in Yemen should provide favourable publicity for Riyadh’s role in providing 930 million dollar of humanitarian aid.

Also, the Khashoggi case seems to have repercussions now on the US position about the Yemen civil war.

US Defense Secretary Mattis said to consider the US support for Saudi Arabia to be a separate issue from the ongoing crisis over the killing of Khashoggi.

"I would separate it out from the Yemen situation," he said at the United States Institute of Peace on late Tuesday. "That stands unique, by itself."

But the joint statement of Wednesday morning on Yemen from both Pompeo and Mattis has proved a resolute position on Yemen, between Saudis and the Houthis backed by the Iranian government, that the Trump administration never held.

"This is the most significant breakthrough in the war in Yemen for four years," David Miliband, the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said about the Pompeo's statement.

A breakthrough that can finally end to one of the most violent conflict in recent history.

According to data collected by an independent research group, at least 56,000 people have been killed in armed violence in Yemen since January 2016, a tally that is more than five times higher than previously reported.

Also, according to the UN, the number of Yemenis in danger of starving to death would rise from the current figure of 8.4 million to 18.4 million by this December.

Three times the estimated death toll of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

"It is vital that this call for a ceasefire is followed through, and the call for support for the political process heeded," Miliband said.

#ArabianPeninsula #MikePompeo #MartinGriffiths #JimMattis #SaudiArabia #Yemen #JamalKhashoggi

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