Saudi coalition hits Yemen despite peace talks

Saudi-led coalition launches air strikes on Yemen during second day of peace talks

Photo by: Getty Images
Photo by: Getty Images

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Expanding its operations into the western province of Yemen for the first time, the Saudi-led Arab coalition carried out air strikes during the second day of peace talks held in Geneva to end three-months of clashes, Reuters has reported.

Among the targets were army bases in the capital Sanaa, Iran-backed Houthi militia bases in Yemen’s central desert, and the mountainous province of Mahweet where the coalition has launched air strikes for the first time since March.

Led by the UN, peace-talks began in Geneva two days ago. The UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has carried out intensive diplomacy in an attempt to bring both sides together but has failed to achieve this.

In a televised speech on Tuesday, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi held out hope for a resolution but accused his Yemeni opponents of seeking to advance Saudi Arabia's agenda.

"There is nothing hindering a political solution in the country; the solution is available, but they [Saudis] are the ones who ruin it with their aggression," Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said.

Hadi and the Arab states have demanded the Houthis comply with a UN Security Council Resolution issued in April calling on the group to leave Yemen's main cities.

Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, blamed the Houthis for the lack of progress.

"Houthis and their allies resorted to violence ... thus the ceasefire and truce is in their hands," al-Jubeir told reporters at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic States in the kingdom, according to Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA.

Backed by Iran the Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in September 2014 through an armed uprising, causing the Yemeni government to flee to Aden after the group attempted to disband it in January.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been in a conflict over influence in the Middle East, with Tehran and Riyadh supporting rival forces in different conflicts - including in Syria and Yemen - mostly along sectarian lines.

According to Saudi Arabia the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria is the greatest cause of instability in the Middle East, and Iran’s support of militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Assad has raised sectarian tensions in the region.

The Arab Gulf countries believe Iran aims to make Yemen its backyard in the Arabian Peninsula.

TRTWorld and agencies