UN envoy to Yemen hopeful about Geneva talks to end crisis

UN envoy to Yemen hopeful about Yemen talks settled for next month in Geneva which he expects to end violence and save country from permanent division

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United Nations envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed raised his hopes about the Yemeni talks in Geneva on June 14 when he was interviewed by Al Jazeera Channel on Sunday.

Cheikh Ahmed said the talks in Geneva might terminate the conflicts which caused to death of at least 2,000 people, displacement of half a million others, and save the country from a permanent division among the warring factions.

"Geneva is a breakthrough, if it happens, it can lead to a new dynamic, an end to this conflict," Ahmed told in his interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television.

"I'm optimistic that Yemen will remain unified. The conflict has not reached a point of no return ... This is why we need people to return to the negotiating table and help work to avoid sectarianism and the division between north and south," he added.

Last week, Cheikh Ahmed briefed the Security Council that the parties had been invited to the peace talks conference that will be held in Geneva on June 14.

During the Yemen’s several months of conflicts the Iranian-backed Houthi militias had advanced towards the capital Sanaa and dispelled the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi through a military coup in February.

Both Yemen’s internationally-recognised exiled government led-by the embattled President Hadi and Houthi representatives announced their participation to the UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva on Thursday.

President Hadi, who was forced to fled to Riyadh in March, said on Monday that the Geneva talks should insist upon implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution which called the Houthis to quit Yemen's main cities and recognise his authority.

"These are not talks, it is only a discussion to implement UN Security Council resolution 2216, how to implement it on the ground," Hadi told on Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV Channel on Monday.

The long envisaged peace talks with the auspices of the UN was postponed at the end of May due to objections made by the Yemeni government that has long been demanding the withdrawal of the Houthi militias from Sanaa and recognition of the Hadi government as a prerequisite.

On their part, the Houthi forces want an immediate ceasefire to start peace talks with the central government which they forced to flee the country to the neighbouring ally Saudi Arabia in April.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies started an aerial operation, dubbed “Decisive Storm” on March 26 to halt the Houthi advancement from Sanaa to Aden as they justified their involvement with the claim of “defending the legitimate government” of Hadi.

The UN and Western allies of the Saudi-led coalition convinced the parties for a five days of humanitarian ceasefire last month for the allowance of food deliveries, fuel and medical supplies to millions of Yemeni people who were badly affected from the conflicts.

The Saudi-led coalition has been accusing Iran of “irredentism” over Yemen through supporting the Houthi forces, hereby, spreading “aggressiveness” in the Gulf region.

Hadi and his factions, who still hold Yemeni government in terms of international law, claim that Iran has long been meddling with Yemen’s internal affairs by pretending social discontent of the Houthi groups.

“What Iran does [in my country] is more dangerous than Al Qaeda,” said Hadi in his Al Arabiya interview.

“I had asked Iran: ‘lift your hand from Yemen’...I did not bring this from vacuum. We caught people who had been trained by the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard. They were jailed in our prisons,” Hadi added.

But Iran and the Houthi militias have denied their political, economic and military ties so far and claimed that their seizure of the capital Sanaa and further advancement towards the southwest was their “revolution” against a “corrupt” government.

The Houthis have rejected the UN resolution as to the Yemen conflict as saying that it was void since Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia and lost his political legitimacy.   

The peace talks in Geneva are expected to institutionalise mutual dialogue for which the UN Ambassador Cheikh Ahmed has been taking a shuttle diplomacy between the Yemeni government and the Houthi militias.

Daifallah al Shami, a member of the Houthis' politburo told Reuters that their forces would take part, and "supports without preconditions the efforts of the UN to organise Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue" in Geneva.

Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, deposed during the Arab spring revolutions in 2011, was said to have been waiting an invitation to the Geneva talks, but his loyalists who also control swathes of southern Yemen, are unlikely to be invited by the UN, according to some Yemeni politicians who spoke to Reuters.


TRTWorld and agencies