UN Envoy Leaves Sanaa amid Houthi Promise to Attend Geneva Consultations
UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths concluded his visit to Sanaa after holding meetings with Houthi leaders on the possibility of resuming the Geneva talks after the previous round failed because the insurgent delegation did not attend.
The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) said in a tweet on Tuesday that Griffiths held constructive meetings in Sanaa with Ansarullah leadership, General People’s Congress (GPC), and the negotiating delegation.
The Office indicated that Griffiths “made progress on ways to resume consultations and Confidence Building Measures, including release of prisoners, economic situation and re-opening of Sanaa airport.”
The UN envoy is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to meet the Yemeni government and coalition officials.
Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi told Griffiths that a delegation from his group will attend the upcoming round of consultations in Geneva, GPC sources indicated.
Houthi confirmed to Griffiths the group would engage in good faith in the next round of consultations, but without indicating the international commitments the envoy had offered to the group, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Earlier this month, the Houthi delegation did not attend the Geneva talks with the legitimate government after it conditioned that an Omani plane must transport the delegation and dozens of its leaders and injured members to Muscat before going to Geneva.
In spite of the UN's efforts, the group insisted on its demands with the aim of thwarting the peace efforts and prolonging the war.
The UN envoy is seeking to achieve progress in his mission by reaching an agreement between the legitimate government and the militias to build confidence before entering into details of the negotiations on security and military conditions and political arrangements.
Griffiths arrived in Sanaa last Sunday from Muscat after meeting with Houthi spokesman and head of delegation Mohammed Abdulsalam, who said on his Twitter account that Abdulmalik al-Houthi also met with Griffiths in Sanaa.
"They agreed on a set of measures to pave the way for future peace talks to end the war," Abdulsalam said without giving further details.
The UN envoy met with the delegation of militias, President of Supreme Political Council Mahdi al-Mashat, and the militias' Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf, as well as a number of GPC’s leaders.
According to sources, Griffiths was informed that the group’s commanders insist on their own conditions to attend the meetings, which prompted him to meet the group’s leader to ensure his approval for the delegation’s attendance of the consultations.
The Houthis informed Griffiths of their demand to open Sanaa airport to commercial flights and pay the salaries of employees before engaging in negotiations. They also want guarantees regarding the transfer of their negotiating delegation to Geneva and its return to Sanaa.
The legitimate government accuses the militias of not being serious about achieving peace and alleviating the sufferings of the Yemeni people.
The international envoy angered the legitimate government in his statement after the failure of the last round of consultations. Griffiths did not hold Houthis responsible for disrupting the peace process by not attending the negotiations in Geneva.
Observers believe the militias will sabotage any international effort for progress because they are dictated by Iran.
The legitimate government has confirmed its support to any peace effort as long as it is based on the three references.
Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to open a humanitarian and medical air corridors for Yemeni civilians who are suffering from conditions untreatable in Yemen.
“The aim is to help patients suffering from cancer, chronic diseases and congenital anomalies receive the treatment they need,” said Nevio Zagaria, the representative of the organization in Yemen.
“Twelve conditions have been agreed. It’s so important that people who have these conditions receive support and care,” he explained.
Some Yemeni activists feared Houthis will use this medical bridge to smuggle their commanders. However, Zagaria asserted that civilians suffering from leukemia, early stage tumors, cervical and thyroid cancer, and patients who need radiotherapy, and bone marrow and kidney transplants, are the only ones who will benefit from this bridge.