Yemen ceasefire effort at UN blocked by Saudi Arabia

A British resolution at the United Nations which would have called for an end to fighting in the port city of Hodeidah and a resumption of aid to the famine stricken country has been blocked by the United States, after heavy lobbying from the Gulf monarchies.

In a shock about-face, the US government refused to back the measure, despite comments from US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the defence secretary, James Mattis in October calling for a general ceasefire within 30 days.

Instead, according to a leaked email seen by AFP, the US government is seeking to delay any peace negotiations until talks begin at a summit in Stockholm next week.

The U-turn is believed to have occurred after Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, put pressure on President Trump to delay any ceasefire until after the battle for the strategic city, which was pre-war Yemen's main source of imports, was concluded.

The UK foreign office issued a statement saying: “Discussions on the resolution are ongoing and we will put it to a vote at the point that best delivers for the people of Yemen.”

Labour's Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Fabian Hamilton called the decision "shameful", and blamed "the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates." for failing to stop the conflict.

"Their narrow-minded objections should not take precedence over the desperate need to resume the delivery of food and medicine through the Port of Hodeidah." he added. 

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United States should be leading by example in trying to bring about an end to this disastrous humanitarian crisis, instead of continuing to pander to the Saudi-led coalition, whose indiscriminate bombing and restriction of humanitarian aid has already led to the deaths of tens of thousands of children.”

Meanwhile, the White House yesterday lost a key vote on whether the US would continue supporting Saudi efforts in Yemen in the US Senate.

The bill, co-sponsored by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, would force the US to cease all military assistance for the Gulf coalition in Yemen within 30 days, although Trump has stated he plans to veto the legislation.

Ahead of the vote Sanders stated, “The fact is the United States, with almost no media attention, has been Saudi Arabia’s partner in this horrific war. We have been providing bombs the Saudi-led coalition is using, refuelling their planes before they drop those bombs, and assisting with intelligence. And in too many cases our weapons are being used to kill civilians.”

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