US secretary of state John Kerry held talks Monday with officials in Oman on efforts to end Yemen’s 19-month conflict, state media in Muscat said.
Kerry and Oman’s foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi discussed the “peaceful and humanitarian role played by the sultanate in Yemen,” ONA state news agency reported.
Kerry is also expected to meet ruler Sultan Qaboos, in one of his last trips as secretary of state before President Barack Obama’s administration ends on January 20.
The US chief diplomat has been pushing for a settlement of Yemen’s deadly conflict, which escalated with the military intervention of a Saudi-led coalition to support the government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in March 2015.
Oman, one of the few Arab states to have good relations with Iran, has used its links to mediate peace talks between the insurgents and Yemen’s UN-recognised government of president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
According National Yemen, Kerry is expected to discuss the roadmap to peace and will meet Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdelsalem who arrived in Oman with a delegation unexpectedly last week. The NY has also reported that over the past few days the Houthis have held secret meetings in Muscat with differnt regional and Eroupean ambassadors.
While the number of American hostages in Yemen is unknown, their situation is also on the agenda. Kerry is expected to discuss with Abdelsalem the release of the remaining US citizens held captive by the Houthi rebels. the UN envovy raodmap will be at the top of Kerry discussion.
Houthis famouse slogn is “God is great!” came the refrain. “Death to America! Death to Israel! A curse upon the Jews! Victory for Islam!”
The slogan, spray-painted on walls and cinderblock throughout the Yemeni capital, has become the calling card of the Houthis, a Shiite faction that overran the Yemeni capital in September 2014.
After Oman, Kerry will travel to Abu Dhabi for talks on regional conflicts, including Syria.
Meanwhile a large group of Yemeni activists including Houthi youth have launched a massive media campaign using hashtags denouncing the Iranian regime’s interference in Yemen’s affairs. The widely circulated Hashtag #Houthi_Aggression_Terrorism brings attention to the crimes of Houthis against children, women and infrastructure in Yemen.
As the UN Envoy to Yemen Ismeal Ould Chaikh Ahmed and international leaders are striving to find a smooth solution for Yemen to end the devastating war which was begun by Houthis storming Sana’a in September 2014, the Iranian media are trying to tell the world that the militias are advancing in Saudi territory, controlling cities and villages along the southern Saudi border.