Yemen’s Houthi rebels back out of peace talks at last moment

UN envoy to Yemen urges warring sides to attend peace talks in Kuwait as Yemen’s Houthi rebels back out at last minute

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi rebels attend a gathering in Yemen's capital Sanaa, April 17, 2016.

The UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, on Tuesday attempted to persuade Yemen's Houthis to send representatives to peace talks in Kuwait, after the rebel group backed out of the negotiations on Monday, hours before they started.

A statement issued on behalf of Cheikh Ahmed described the Kuwait talks as "delayed" and gave no details on when they might resume.

"We... ask the delegations to show good faith, participate in the talks in order to reach a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Yemen," the envoy said. "We call on the parties to take their responsibilities seriously and agree on comprehensive solutions."

Both warring parties - the internationally recognised government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi rebels - accuse each other of violating the April 11 ceasefire.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said in a Facebook statement that the “demand from the first day was for talks to be held "in an atmosphere of calm, peace, and stability."

"But unfortunately, since April 11, the aggression hadn't stopped and the air strikes have continued on several areas," he said, referring to the warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition.

Government official Abdel Karim Shayban, on the other hand, accused the Houthis of not abiding by the truce deal.

Shayban told reporters that Houthis have showed "no seriousness."

Yemeni children pose inside a tent at a makeshift camp housing Internally Displaced Persons who fled their homes due to the ongoing conflict between loyalist forces and Huthi rebels, on April 16, 2016 on the outskirts of Sanaa. (AFP)

A UN-brokered cease-fire has sought to facilitate the negotiations in Kuwait, but it has repeatedly been violated by both sides. Sanaa, Taiz, Marib and Jouf cities have seen most of the cease-fire violations.

On late Monday, 13 people - five soldiers and eight rebels - died in clashes which continued through Tuesday in Marib, the pro-government military sources said.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Hadi’s government and the Houthi rebels and their allies to "engage in good faith" with his envoy on the conflict so that peace talks could start without further delay.

Yemen has remained in turmoil since September 2014, when the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, overran the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing Hadi and his government to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The UN said that the conflict has killed more than 6,400 Yemenis and displaced 2.8 million from their homes.

Al Qaeda and DAESH also have exploited the war to widen their influence in the poorest country of the Arabian peninsula.


TRTWorld and agencies