The Iran-backed Houthi militias have finally revealed their conditions to end their offensive on the Yemeni province of Marib that is home to over 2 million refugees.
The conditions will likely complicate peace efforts in the war-torn country, agreed officials and activists.
The Houthis revealed that they had submitted their conditions – the so-called “Marib initiative” – to Omani mediators. Their initiative contrasts with the initiative proposed by former United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths that was based on the Saudi initiative that was suggested this year.
The Saudi proposal calls for a nationwide ceasefire, reopening of the Sanaa International Airport, using Hodeidah port revenues to pay salaries and kicking off negotiations to reach lasting peace.
The Houthi initiative demands the formation of a joint command for Marib, joint security forces and joint technical committees. The militias have also demanded shares of oil and gas, as well as the reoperation of the export pipeline that extends from Marib to the Houthi-held Ras Issa port on the Red Sea. They demanded the release of their loyalists from detention centers controlled by the legitimate government and the freedom of movement of their members to and from Marib.
In sum, noted Yemeni observers, the Houthis are demanding that they be handed control of the oil-rich province that they have been seeking to occupy militarily for over a year.
Undersecretary at the Information Ministry Abdulbasit Al-Qaedi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “These conditions do not signify surrender or peace. Rather, the Houthis want to fulfill through peace demands they haven’t been able to achieve through war.”
“They want to impose conditions and this is in no way a reflection of their desire for peace,” he added.
The Omani mediators had approached the Houthis with the Saudi initiative, but were instead met with the “Marib initiative”, reflecting their rejection of the Kingdom’s efforts, he went on to say.
The Houthis “don’t care about peace” and their leader is “trying to impose his conditions and outsmart the international community,” Al-Qaedi remarked.
The Yemenis, he stated, are aware of these ploys and have experienced them throughout the long years of war.
He noted how the Houthis have always reneged on commitments, turned against agreements and rejected all international resolutions, including United Nations Security Council resolution 2216 and the Stockholm Agreement. Moreover, they have refused to withdraw from Hodeidah, release detainees or end the siege on Taiz city.
Political analyst Mahmoud al-Taher said the Houthis were trying to deliver several messages through their initiative.
They want to show the tribes, especially those in Marib, whom they have repeatedly failed in winning over, that the Houthis were now calling the shots. Once the international community surrenders Marib to the militias, then the tribes will no longer be welcome in the province, he explained to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Moreover, through these conditions, the Houthis are leading the international community, starting with the United States, to believe that they are fighting the ISIS and al-Qaeda groups. They are claiming that these groups are based in Marib, which is a dangerous accusation against the entire Yemeni population, he warned.
It is as if they are saying that whoever rejects the Iranian agenda in Yemen is embracing ISIS and al-Qaeda, he explained.
Furthermore, if they succeed in fooling the international community, the Houthis will likely resort to the same tactics in seizing all other provinces, he noted.