Even though many areas are free from bombing the blockade has led to shortages of everything. Meanwhile, the government-in-exile is safe away from it all in Ryadh, Saudi Arabia. One historic site has been hit and a UN compound also bombed injuring a guard and causing considerable damage. Some residential areas containing homes of relatives of former president Saleh who supports the Houthis have been bombed killing civilians.
Rebel Houthi leader Zeifullah al-Shami told the Associated Press that the Hadi conditions were unacceptable and they do not address the country's humanitarian crisis. Perhaps, the Saudis will force Hadi to accept a cease fire without his conditions. Otherwise, the slaughter will continue. Al-Shami noted that talks sponsored by the UN were still ongoing in the capital Sanaa. A pro-Houthi activist said: "Those conditions are actually silly from the so-called President Hadi government. Those are the same conditions that were presented at Geneva talks and now here again.I know Houthi won’t accept any condition for withdrawal and there cannot be any precondition for ceasefire." The problem is that a UN resolution has been passed that demands that the Houthis withdraw from the areas that they have taken and lay down their arms. The power brokers that tell the UN what to do thought that they could just pass this resolution and run some bombing missions and the Houthis would fold. Now they are stuck with a hopeless client who will never get back into power and a resolution that stands in the way of any sort of rational agreement with the Houthis. Given the ability of the powerful to be inconsistent and hypocritical when it suits them the Saudis, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the US may decide to more or less ignore the UN resolution. After all, countries such as Israel regularly ignore UN resolutions and no one pays much attention.
If the parties want to help solve the humanitarian crisis which their actions have produced, they should agree to a ceasefire without setting conditions that would block a successful agreement. A Houthi activist Bukhaiti claimed that "the main source of the humanitarian crisis is the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition. He said that about 90 percent of aid is lying in Djibouti and the Saudis are not letting it enter Yemen." Since March estimates are that more than 3,000 people have been killed. AQAP has gained control of considerable territory including Mukalla the capital of Hadrahmut province. In the south local militia fighting against the Houthis are from the Southern Movement that wants an independent South Yemen or at least more autonomy. Direct support for Hadi is minimal.
The Houthis have always wanted to be key players in forming a government but realize that they themselves as a Shia minority in a predominantly Sunni Yemen cannot rule by themselves. They could not have captured the territory they have without the support of ex-president Saleh and those loyal to him within the Yemeni army. Iran, which supports the Houthis, realizes this as well. It would like a political solution with a government that would give more power to the Houthis but composed of many different groups. If the Saudis and other Gulf States were willing to allow the Yemenis somewhat more independence a unity government might be possible. A unity government could deal with the increasing power not only of AQAP in Yemen but the Islamic State as well. It is in the interests of all the other parties to combine against this extremist threat and to end the disastrous civil conflict. If the Hadi government-in-exile refuses to cooperate the Saudis and other supporters should inform them that they will not receive any support.
The conflict apparently arose when the Right Sector fought with local criminals who compete with them in cigarette trafficking. Mukacheve is a key smuggling hub into Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. The Right Sector claims it was attacked by "bandits" associated with a local lawmaker whom they accused of being a "drug trafficker". They also accused the local police of being paid by a pro-Russian politician. The Right Sector who describe themselves as nationalists won two seats in the Ukrainian parliament last October. Some opponents of the Right Sector accuse them of being fascists.
Critics claim that the Ukraine has been so pre-occupied with its battle with eastern separatists that it has failed to reform its legal system and stem the spread of corruption. The Right Sector portrayed its battle in Mukacheve as intended to root out corruption. According to their version of events, members of the group had been lured to a local Sports Club by a local politician whom they had accused of being a smuggler. When they arrived, they were attacked by local police with two of their members being killed.
Many supporters of the Right Sector protested in Kiev and elsewhere demanding the the Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, be fired. According to Avakov three police officers and four civilians had been wounded in grenade attacks. An Interior Ministry Statement claimed the Right Sector opened fire first killing one civilian. President Poroshenko has ordered police to disarm the group and arrest those involved in the shooting.
Analysts said the moves were a direct challenge to Poroshenko and his government, and could threaten to open up a new front in Kiev's battle to bring order to Ukraine. Volodymyr Fesenko, an analyst from Kiev said:"What happened in Mukacheve - this is a serious signal to the state. They must speed up moves to establish order - there must be no illegal armed groups. What happened in Mukacheve is a settling of scores between criminals. It is a conflict between clans, one of which call themselves patriots ... This is a challenge to stability."
The conflict has killed more than 3,000 people. Envoy Ahmed said: "For the humanitarian pause, we are going to start tomorrow evening and we have assurances from all the parties, and we are quite optimistic it will be respected.We have agreed to go ahead, based on two major points. The first is the commitment of all parties not to violate this ceasefire, this humanitarian pause. The second is that humanitarian assistance can reach all parts of Yemen". Ahmed had just completed talks with the Houthis in Sanaa.
Earlier attempts to agree to a cease fired had foundered due to the government in exile of President Hadi insisting that the Houthis withdraw from key cities that they had occupied as a condition of any ceasefire. No doubt the Saudis and other allies told Hadi to agree to a cease fire without any conditions as appears to have happened. Relief agencies claim that more than 80 per cent of the 23 million Yemenis need emergency aid. Those who are able have fled the country. The Saudi blockade and allied militias often block aid to Houthi areas but the Houthis too have tried to disrupt aid or block aid to areas they do not control. At least the humanitarian pause is a step in the right direction. It may also allow time for more discussions between competing groups. However, AQAP will no doubt continue fighting the Houthis whether there is a cease fire or not. The group fought against the government of Hadi when it had control as well.
Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, was quick to use the analysis to further his own position: "Yesterday an event of major political importance happened. The IMF published a report on Greece's economy which is a great vindication for the Greek government as it confirms the obvious - that Greek debt is not sustainable."
At an IMF board meeting on Wednesday many from Europe questioned the timing of the release of the report. Although there was no vote, US members on the board far outnumber those of the EU so by consensus the publication went ahead.
An IMF source said: "Facts are stubborn. You can't hide the facts because they may be exploited." That seems plainly false as politicians and others stubbornly hide unpleasant facts whenever they can.
The basic IMF argument is that with a present debt load of nearly 185 percent of GDP the Greek debt burden can be made sustainable only by a great deal more aid and a severe debt restructuring that would involve haircuts. This is precisely what EU countries do not want to hear and a position that they can never sell to their taxpayers.
Most of the debt now is public not private so the money lost comes from public coffers.
A similar EC debt sustainability analysis is much less pessimistic. It remains to be seen if this new information will influence Greek voters. Recent polls show that the Yes and No votes are literally tied although there has been a decline in the No vote since the banks closed and capital controls introduced limiting withdrawals. PayPal has ceased operations in Greece for now.
In the north of Greece bordering Bulgaria restaurants are now accepting the lev, Bulgarian currency, in payment. Business owners then travel to Bulgaria when they have a good number of levs. In Bulgaria they convert the lev into euros to help finance their operations.
The eurogroup is said to be already focusing on Plan B, to deal with a possible Greek default and exit from the eurozone. Jeroen Dijsselbloem president of the eurogroup expressed surprise and disappointment at the sudden Greek decision and said it closed the door on future talks. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also claimed the call for a referendum meant that negotiations were over. The Greek debt crisis however has been far from predictable except for the fact that the Greek government has not been able to persuade the eurogroup and other creditors to pay any attention to its demands for relief from crushing austerity conditions.
BBC News reports Greece timeline: Key dates ahead
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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