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Yemen: Houthis Back Off from Peace Pledges

Yemen: Houthis Back Off from Peace Pledges

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 - 09:15
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. AFP file photo

Houthis backed off from a pledge they had made to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to break the deadlock in Yemen’s political process.

The insurgents had sent a message to Guterres, claiming they were committed to "breaking the deadlock of the political process", accepting a proposal on “trust-building” and discussing the issues with the office of the Special Envoy to Yemen in the Omani capital.

The first letter, dated January 11, did not include any reference to the outgoing envoy, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, who had arrived in Muscat four days earlier as part of the international efforts, which Houthis claimed they would deal positively with.

The Houthi delegation arrived in Muscat shortly after a meeting with Moeen Shireem, the deputy of Sheikh Ahmed. However, the Iran-backed group changed its stance and did not react positively to its alleged commitments.

According to a Yemeni official speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, Houthis sent another letter to the UN chief demanding that they meet with the new UN envoy - Britain’s Martin Griffiths who is expected to be appointed on Thursday -and refusing to hold talks with Cheikh Ahmed.

The official, who preferred not to be named, said the General People's Congress had a disagreement concerning the members of the party's delegation, which Sheikh Ahmed insisted should be a key component of any future peace talks.

Rather than engaging in the peace process with the United Nations, the head of the Houthi delegation and their spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam headed to Tehran on February 10 to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, Yemeni government spokesman Rajih Bady said this confirms what the legitimate government had stated about Houthis not being serious about peaceful solutions.

He explained that the insurgents are making attempts to waste time in light of their losses on various battlefronts.

Yemeni political activist al-Baraa Sheiban recalled how in previous wars, Houthis would not give consent to any agreement unless they were on the verge of defeat.

He added that if army troops continue to advance in Jouf, Medi and Saada, along with east of Sana’a and the coast, as well as Taiz, then the Houthis will rush to negotiate a solution.

Earlier, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohamed Al Jaber said that the group doesn't want peace.

"The whole world is asking them to resolve and settle, but they have no intention of heeding" such calls, said Al Jaber.

The diplomat indicated that Houthis only represent Iran, and Tehran believes that its ongoing intervention in the Arab world is a means to export its revolution and impoverish the region.

In order to better understand the international and regional position on the Yemeni negotiations, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Assistant Secretary-General for Political and Negotiation Affairs Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Uwaisheg stated that there are attempts and efforts to convince both the legitimacy and the insurgents to sit together at the negotiating table.

He told Asharq al-Awsat: "Everyone agrees, including the permanent members of the Security Council, to support the United Nations envoy, to continue (talks over) the proposed solutions, such as the Hodeidah plan and linking it to a comprehensive solution.”

The Kuwait talks would be seen as a basis for any future negotitions between the two sides, he said.

Uwaisheg believes that the international community, which spent five months in Kuwait, has agreed on security and political measures. So things will not go back to square one.

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