UK Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron has warned that the Houthi militias may be seeking to secure gains on the battleground ahead of any ceasefire deal in the war-torn country.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Aron’s caveat comes after the Saudi-led Arab Coalition intercepting and destroying a Houthi explosive drone that was targeting Saudi Arabia.
Arab Coalition Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Turki Al Maliki confirmed that the coalition intercepted on Wednesday afternoon a bomb-laden drone in Yemeni airspace launched towards Saudi Arabia.
“These acts of aggression to deliberately and systematically target civilians and civilian sites amount to war crimes,” he said.
The spokesperson affirmed the continuation of the coalition to enforce all necessary operational procedures to safeguard civilians and civilian sites in accordance with the customary International Humanitarian Law.
Houthi militias have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks, launching a large military operation in Yemen’s central Marib Governorate and increasing the frequency of missile and drone assaults against Saudi Arabia.
“They (Houthis) are trying to make progress before peace efforts from the international community. They are afraid of a ceasefire and want to advance on the ground before that,” Aron told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Undoubtedly, this is a very bad thing, and we do not need that,” he added, stressing that the UK negatively views Iran’s support and arming of the Houthis.
On the Houthi escalation in Marib, Aron pointed out that some soldiers believe that achieving victory in the key governorate will mark the end of the war.
Observers, however, believe that Houthis ramping up assaults in Marib was ordered by Iran so that the group secures its position in any upcoming negotiations with the United States, albeit at the expense of killing Yemenis and exacerbating human suffering in the country.
According to Aron, starting direct or semi-direct consultations between rival Yemeni parties to end the conflict is the best option to alleviate the suffering of the Yemenis.
“Without progress in the peace process and direct or semi-direct negotiations between the parties, we will see a greater deterioration on the ground,” Aron stated, adding that rebooting talks and achieving a ceasefire remain a top priority.
Despite his remarks, the diplomat admitted that any future peace will not be easy nor soon. He, however, reiterated confidence in efforts mounted by the UN.
More so, Aron stressed that the international community is aware and fully comprehends the dangers of the Houthi group.
“We have no doubts about the Houthis. We understand what the Houthis are, but if the war continues, without negotiations, then the Houthis will occupy the entire north of Yemen,” he noted, adding that the Iran-aligned militia would reshape society and end tolerance in Yemen.