Report

Calls for Talks in Yemen Place Pressure on Saudi Arabia

International pressure is mounting on Saudi Arabia this week. Days after Pakistan suggested Iran should have a role in resolving the conflict in Yemen, Iranian media reported yesterday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Iran’s role in diplomacy during meetings yesterday in Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on other countries in the region ...

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International pressure is mounting on Saudi Arabia this week. Days after Pakistan suggested Iran should have a role in resolving the conflict in Yemen, Iranian media reported yesterday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Iran’s role in diplomacy during meetings yesterday in Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on other countries in the region to help reach “peace, stability, a broader government and dialogue” in Yemen. Erdogan’s visit this week comes despite comments he made last month that “Iran is trying to dominate the region.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry also called “on all relevant parties to quickly implement a ceasefire and avoid further civilian casualties,” suggesting the implementation of  “relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and Gulf Cooperation Council proposals.” A group of more than 30 Yemeni civil society groups issued a letter calling on the United Nations to intervene “to stop this war and force all powers that are behind these attacks to resume dialogue with no prior conditions” and “save Yemen from this humanitarian crisis.”

Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir pressed other governments not to downplay the role of Iran in supporting the Houthis, comparing them to a nascent Lebanese Hezbollah. “We don’t want people to make the same mistake with the Houthis,” he said. Al-Jubeir also said that the United States shares Saudi concerns about Iran’s role and that U.S. officials “know this is what the Iranians are providing.” Speaking in Riyadh yesterday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States has expedited arms shipments to Saudi Arabia to facilitate the Saudi intervention in Yemen; the United States has also said it is providing intelligence support and would provide aerial refueling for the Saudi air force. After almost a week of delays, a plane chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross landed in Sanaa carrying medical staff; another flight carrying supplies is expected to arrive today.

Assad Regime May Work with Palestinians at Yarmouk

After meeting with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Assad regime is reportedly discussing ceasing its bombardment of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which has come under attack from the Islamic State. Assad forces may shift to supporting Palestinian military action. At least 2,000 refugees have fled the camp and those remaining are caught between bombing by Assad and sniper fire from the Islamic State. “If you want to feed your children, you need to take your funeral shroud with you,” said a resident. “There are snipers on every street, you are not safe anywhere.”

Headlines

  • Jaish-ul Adl, a Sunni terrorist group operating in Pakistan, killed eight Iranian border guards in a cross-border raid in Iran’s Negur district.

 

  • Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it had increased oil production to a record level, 10.3 million barrels per day in March, exceeding its previous record from August 2013.

 

  • Iranian government oil officials are traveling to China this week to discuss energy and investment opportunities that will be possible after sanctions are lifted under a potential nuclear agreement.

 

  • Iraqi forensic teams have begun the process of exhuming mass graves in Tikrit believed to contain hundreds of bodies of soldiers killed by the Islamic State last year; the Islamic State released a video of the public execution of four men by beheading in Nineveh Province.

 

  • The Egyptian government is investigating a Giza-based NGO accused of working on sexual health issues, including for Egypt’s gay community, in conjunction with laws protecting “public order or morals;” the Sisi government has closed more than 380 NGOs this year and cracked down on the LGBT community.

-J. Dana Stuster

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

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