London – UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was optimistic about reaching a political solution in war-torn Yemen, but denied media reports about a new international plan in this regard.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the UN envoy said: “I heard a lot about a new working paper and many speculations surrounding it; I don’t know the source of such reports, but I can assure you that they are unfounded.”
Ould Cheikh Ahmed revealed that during his latest round of talks, he listened to the views of Yemen’s legitimate government regarding the presidential institution in light of the roadmap that he proposed last month in Geneva.
“It is possible to propose several solutions to this issue,” he noted.
He added that Yemen’s opposition groups, including “Ansarallah” (Houthis) and the General People’s Congress – led by ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh – were dealing “in a positive way” with the roadmap proposals and have expressed their readiness to discuss the proposed solutions.
“However, they haven’t dealt properly yet with the security issue and they have failed so far to submit a plan for security arrangements, as requested in the roadmap,” the international envoy noted.
In this regard, Ould Cheikh Ahmed stressed that any solution to the Yemeni crisis should be supported by security arrangements.
“This means that (Ansarallah) and (the Congress) should offer compromises, as no militias or forces outside the government should bear arms,” he explained.
He continued: “At the same time, any political solution should guarantee the engagement of all parties (in the political life) and should be based on a consensus by all sides.”
Ould Cheikh Ahmed reiterated that the Yemeni solution should be based on UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanisms, and the outcome of the Yemeni national dialogue.
The international envoy also said that the recent round of talks held in Kuwait could constitute the basis for all prospective solutions to the crisis.
Asked about his readiness to call on both warring sides to agree on an eighth truce, he said: “We are seeking to gather all concerned parties in a workshop, during which we will work on resolving all logistic, practical and political obstacles, then we move to the issue of local committees (in charge with easing tensions); then we shift towards South Dhahran, where we begin to announce a genuine truce that guarantees peace and allows the access of humanitarian aid.”
Ould Cheikh Ahmed warned of the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in the war-torn country.
He added that during his recent regional tour that took him to Riyadh, Kuwait and Oman, he held a series of meetings with the Arab countries’ foreign ministers, as well as with GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani, with whom he discussed the main topics that will be tackled in the upcoming five-sided meeting, hosted by the United Kingdom in London.
The international envoy said that the Sultanate of Oman has now become a permanent member in the group of countries supporting a political solution in Yemen – formerly known as the quartet – which initially included Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and the UAE.
He added that the visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman has reflected his great support to the international envoy’s efforts and his keenness on the need to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis.
“I am optimistic about the presence of a solution, as all the main components are available,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.
“Ending a crisis is usually based on resolving political and security obstacles in the first place,” he noted, adding: “The roadmap that we have proposed covers those two aspects based on the outcome of the negotiations held in Kuwait.”
He stressed in this regard the need for the Houthis and Saleh supporters to offer compromises and the necessity that the different factions to engage in the country’s political life.