23 Apr 15. The U.N. chief has nominated a new special envoy to Yemen, who will be tasked with guiding talks meant to end the violent chaos in the Arab world’s poorest country, the Security Council president said Thursday. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nominated Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the current U.N. Ebola chief, in a letter to current Security Council President Dina Kawar, who is Jordan’s U.N. ambassador. The council now has 48 hours to consider the nomination, which it must approve. As pressure builds on the world body to help find peace in Yemen, previous U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar last week announced that he would step down. Benomar had faced sharp criticism from Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has led a regional coalition conducting airstrikes on Shiite Houthi rebels in who recently swept into southern Yemen and caused the Western-backed president to flee. Benomar’s four years of efforts at a peaceful political transition in the Yemen fell apart amid the rebel uprising and the airstrike response, which has led to fears of a kind of proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies and Iran, a Shiite power that has supported the Houthis. Yemen’s U.N. ambassador, Khaled Alyemany, last week told the AP that Benomar had not paid enough attention to the Western-backed government and “had started to promote the Houthis, and we cannot accept that.” At the time, Benomar did not comment. Alyemany called Amhed, of Mauritania, “a very good U.N. diplomat and expert.” Ban’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, had said Ban would consult the parties in Yemen and countries in the region before selecting a replacement, adding that it must be “someone who can talk to all parties.” More than a thousand people have been killed in the past few weeks of violence in Yemen. The U.N. has said it will “spare no efforts to re-launch the peace process.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/AP)
22 Apr 15. Arab League to Set Up Panel On Preparing Regional Force. Arab League military chiefs decided Wednesday to form a panel to examine all aspects of building a region-wide military force aimed at combating jihadists, including the Islamic State (IS) group. The bloc agreed in March to set up the force, with members given four months to decide on its composition, precise rules of engagement and budget. Top brass gathered at League headquarters in Cairo decided “to set up a high-ranking committee under the supervision of army chiefs to examine all aspects of this issue,” said a statement at the end of their meeting.
“The panel will examine the mechanisms and budget needed to set up the joint Arab military force, and also the legal framework.”
It was not immediately clear when the committee will actually be formed, but the statement said it would meet in the next few weeks. The meeting, attended by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, was chaired by Egyptian Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mahmud Hegazy. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been pushing for the creation of the force since February, after a video emerged showing IS executing a group of Coptic Christians in neighboring Libya, prompting retaliatory air strikes by Cairo. The idea gained momentum after Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched air strikes on Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.
“The creation of a joint Arab force in no way aims to form a new alliance or army hostile to any country, but a force to fight terrorism and maintain security, peace and stability in the region,” Arabi said at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
Hegazy said there was a need to “fight terrorism,” adding that the force might intervene in internal conflicts.
“We cannot ignore internal conflicts and the growth of terrorist organisations in an Arab country, and it is wrong to think that these conflicts have no direct or indirect repercussions in other Arab countries,” he said.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country, appears set to become the backbone of the force. Cairo