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French Ambassador to Yemen: Marib’s Fall Would Trigger Political, Humanitarian Catastrophe

French Ambassador to Yemen: Marib’s Fall Would Trigger Political, Humanitarian Catastrophe

Friday, 19 March, 2021 - 09:15
French Ambassador to Yemen Jean-Marie Safa (Photo Credit: Saad al-Enezi)

Despite all regional and international parties calling for a comprehensive ceasefire and resuming political talks to settle the conflict in Yemen, Houthis are showing determination to keep the war going.

French Ambassador to Yemen Jean-Marie Safa, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, voiced his belief in Houthis seeking to take over Yemen by force. He noted that the Iran-backed militia is devoted to a certain ideology and marginalizes anyone who thinks differently.

The diplomat urged Houthis not to waste the opportunity found in peace efforts exerted by the international community and the UN envoy to Yemen.

Safa, who had met with Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi back in 2012, said the insurgency group is convinced that it alone represents Yemen’s “people, government and state.”

“Since I arrived in Riyadh on October 18, I have intensified my contacts to listen to all parties and to be able to understand the situation without prejudice,” Safa said about his diplomatic efforts on Yemen.

He stressed France’s significant role in helping find a solution for the war-torn country.

“France plays a special role here given its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the European Union. It is also an elected member of the UN Human Rights Council for 2021-2023,” Safa said in the interview.

Acknowledging that the conflict in Yemen has arrived at a decisive point, the envoy reiterated the need for cooperation to bring back the country from the brink of total devastation.

“It is imperative, especially at this critical stage of the crisis, that all Yemeni parties work together to rebuild the state and bring about peace. Each party must find its place and contribute to this process with the support of the international community,” noted Safa.

Saying that the UN-recognized Yemeni government and its ally, Saudi Arabia, have proved that they are serious about achieving peace, Safa urged Houthis to abandon their resolve for prolonging the war in hopes of controlling Yemen by force.

“Houthis are not alone in Yemen, and they must communicate and negotiate with other parties in the country, collectively under the legitimate government headquartered in Aden, Yemen’s interim capital,” explained Safa.

“Houthis have suffered from marginalization in the past, but today, they are the ones who marginalize other Yemeni parties and everyone who does not think like them,” he said, adding that the Iran-aligned group has made the transition from being an “oppressed victim” to “oppressor.”

US and EU officials have repeatedly demanded that Houthis stop their all-out offensive against Yemen’s Marib governorate, where millions of Yemeni IDPs have sought refuge from ongoing violence.

Houthis, however, ignored international calls for seizing the military campaign on Marib and continued to fire ballistic missiles and drones against the governorate.

“France, time and again, condemned Houthi-staged attacks and cross-border assaults on Marib and neighboring Saudi Arabia,” reaffirmed Safa.

“We call on them (Houthis) to immediately put an end to destabilizing acts that threaten regional security, and to commit themselves constructively to a political process that rescues Yemen,” he pressed.

“France has mobilized efforts for a comprehensive ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations to reach a comprehensive political agreement sponsored by the UN,” underlined Safa, warning that “the fall of Marib would trigger a political and humanitarian catastrophe.”

Reflecting international concerns, Safa said that “the Houthi assault on Marib must stop right away.”

“Houthis must move away from their military options and negotiate a political solution under UN auspices,” he added, confirming that doing so “is the only hope to put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

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