Exclusive: Signs of Houthi Intransigence Ahead of Sweden Talks
Houthi militias showed on Thursday signs of intransigence ahead of a new round of peace talks on Yemen expected in Sweden early next month by conditioning the move of their injured fighters abroad for treatment.
A previous round of talks set in Geneva last September failed when the rebel group set the same condition prior to engaging in any peace negotiations.
Asharq Al-Awsat learned that the Houthi leader asked that 50 injured fighters and the same number of bodyguards be transferred abroad before starting any peace consultations.
Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdelsalam said on Twitter that during their meeting on Thursday, UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and Houthi rebel chief Abdulmalik al-Houthi discussed procedures needed to transport the sick and injured for treatment abroad and bring them back, without clarifying whether the wounded people are the same ones transferred 10 days ago.
Meanwhile, Yemeni parties believe that the Houthis set this condition to make certain gains.
The sources said that in case their request is met, they would secure the transfer of Iranian and Hezbollah-linked members abroad. And, if not, they would hinder international efforts to solve the Yemeni crisis and would threaten next month’s peace talks in Sweden.
The same sources added that the rebel group also aims to halt fighting operations in the city of Hodeidah to reorganize its fighters and relocate its forces in other battlefronts.
Meanwhile, Griffiths, who landed in Sanaa Wednesday, prepares for a peace push, considered the biggest in two years.
Abdelsalam said Griffiths met al-Houthi, head of the group's Higher Revolutionary Committee, on Thursday and both men addressed "what can facilitate new discussions in December.”
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yamani told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis would continue to place tough conditions in the face of any new peace talks.
“Houthis are losing at several fronts and therefore, they feel that an immense pressure is exerted on them. Their steps would never lead to peace,” the minister said.
Concerning the location of Yemen’s next round of negotiations, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the talks are expected in the city of Uppsala, 70 kilometers north of Stockholm.
They said Griffiths is expected in Riyadh later this week to meet with the Yemeni legitimate government.