OP-ED

Fresh Yemen peace talks could be in the works

Written by Staff

A spate of meetings by the UN envoy sees him shuttling between Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan

Al Mukalla: Representatives of Yemen’s internationally-recognised President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and rebels are to convene in Oman for a new round of peace talks aimed at defusing tension in the more than two years of a bloody conflict, the UN special envoy to Yemen said.

Speaking to Oman News Agency on Saturday, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad said he visited Oman to push for a new meeting between warning parties in Yemen and he would travel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia to meet Jordanian King Abdullah and Hadi, seperately.

“There are signs that Oman could host fresh meetings between Yemen parties,” he said, adding that during his regional tour he would seek an agreement on the port city of Hodeidah as a first step to a comprehensive political settlement.

He did not say when Oman would host this meeting.

Ould Shaikh Ahmad’s last proposal on Hodeidah called for Al Houthi to withdraw from the city’s seaport where control would be handed to a third party that would also collect revenues from taxes on goods coming into the port.

In exchange, the Saudi-led Arab coalition and Hadi’s government would not carry out a military offensive on the Red Sea city.

The Yemeni government says Al Houthis are confiscating the tax revenue at the port and using it to fund their military operations.

In April Ahmad voiced hope for renewed peace talks before the holy month of Ramadan, but the talks never materialised.

Al Houthis have strongly oppose his proposals and have called upon the United Nations to replace him, accusing him of being bias.

Hadi’s government said that the international community should first mount greater pressure on Al Houthis and ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have forged an alliance, to accept UN-brokered proposals if they seek to put an end to the war.

Yemen’s foreign minister, Abdul Malek Al Mekhlafi, said on Sunday that the UN envoy opted to visit Oman to seek their help to convince Al Houthi movement to accept his recent ideas on Hodeidah.

“We support the UN envoy’s efforts to implement UN resolutions and peace agreements in accordance with the three references. Ould Shaikh Ahmad’s initiatives have faced a key obstacle which is rejection by [Al Houthi] militia,” Al Mekhlafi said in an interview with the Saudi Al Hayat daily newspaper.

Analysts in Yemen believe that peace prospects are dim due to the intensification of military activities and Al Houthi-Saleh repeated rejection to pull out of Hodeidah.

“Hadi government and the Al Houthi militia are not close to striking a deal to end the war. Fighting is raging outside of Sana’a, on the Red Sea, in Taiz and on other fronts,” Yasser Al Yafae, a political analyst based in Aden, told Gulf News.

Original Article