The United States has backed the coalition with multi-billion dollar arms sales and provided logistical and intelligence support
, photo: AP/Jorge Saenz
25 of August 2016 11:53:14
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi King Salman in the Red Sea city of Jiddah on Thursday ahead of wider talks mostly focusing on Yemen's 18-month-long war and the conflict in Syria.The flurry of meetings come as U.N.-mediated peace talks to bring an end to the war in Yemen were suspended earlier this month. They also fall on the same day that the U.N. human rights chief called for an international investigation of rights abuses and violence in Yemen's civil war, which has killed more than 9,000 people, including nearly 3,800 civilians, and displaced three million.On Thursday, Kerry announced nearly $189 million in additional humanitarian aid for Yemen, bringing the total amount of U.S. assistance to more than $327 million since October 2015. More than 80 percent of the country, or about 21 million people, are in need of aid and some 10 million are in need of emergency food assistance.The war in Yemen pits a nine-country Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia against Shiite Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen's former president. The Houthis, who are allied with Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.The United States has backed the coalition with multi-billion dollar arms sales and provided logistical and intelligence support.In recommendations issued Thursday, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights called on the international community to "to refrain from encouraging or arming parties to the conflict." Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other rights groups have similarly urged the U.S., U.K. and France to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it curtails its airstrikes in Yemen. A number of U.S. lawmakers have also expressed concern about Washington's role in the conflict.During a press conference in Jiddah, Kerry said stability in Yemen is important to blunting the expansion of extremist groups there like the Islamic State and al-Qaida. He expressed concern about missiles and rockets fired from inside Yemen toward Saudi Arabia's southern border. The strikes and armed attacks at the border have killed several civilians and dozens of Saudi border guards.A senior State Department official traveling with Kerry said he was expected to raise U.S. concerns about civilian casualties in Yemen during his meetings in Saudi Arabia. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the meetings.Kerry's meeting with King Salman lasted roughly half an hour. The two spoke briefly about the monarch's health and an operation he had in the U.S., apparently for back pain. It was not clear when the surgery was performed.After his meeting with the Saudi monarch, Kerry wrote on Twitter that they discussed the "need to reach a political solution [and] address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen," as well as the war in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State group (I.S.).
ABDULLAH AL-SHIHRIAYA BATRAWY