Blow to peace effort — Houthis ink deal with Saleh to run Yemen

Muhammad Ali al-Houthi, who heads the Houthi-run Supreme Revolutionary Committee (C), attends a demonstration by Houthi supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, on Thursday. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 28 July 2016

Blow to peace effort — Houthis ink deal with Saleh to run Yemen

ADEN: Yemen’s Houthi rebels and ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s group on Thursday formed a 10-member “supreme council” to run Yemen, in what the government condemned as a blow to already stalled UN-brokered peace talks.
UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the move “contravenes” the rebels’ commitment to the peace process and “represents a grave violation” of the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
The Shiite Houthi rebels and the General People’s Congress of Saleh have agreed to “form a supreme political council of 10 members,” according to a statement carried by a rebel-run news agency.
It did not name the council’s members.
The job of the council will be to “manage state affairs politically, militarily, economically, administratively, socially and in security.”
The statement said the aim is to unify efforts to confront the UN-recognized government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
A Saudi-led alliance intervened in Yemen’s conflict in March 2015 to try to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power after the Houthis seized Sanaa and advanced on his temporary headquarters in Aden, forcing him to seek help from Saudi Arabia.

‘Clear violation’
Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who has been brokering 100 days of talks aimed at a peaceful settlement, said the move endangered the negotiations being held in Kuwait.
“This is a clear violation of the Yemeni constitution” as well as Resolution 2216, he said in a statement released in Kuwait.
The resolution calls on the Houthis to withdraw from territories they occupied in 2014, to hand over their arms and return state institutions to the legitimate government.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed, however, did not say if the rebels’ move would result in the suspension of the peace talks.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalek Al-Mikhlafi said it amounted to a “new coup” and accused the rebels of “missing an opportunity for peace.”
The rebels have “missed an opportunity for peace which the Yemeni people needed... and insisted on foiling the negotiations,” Mikhlafi said on his Twitter account.
“We call on the international community to condemn the new coup against the constitutional legitimacy and hold the Houthi-Saleh alliance responsible for foiling the talks,” he said.

Frustrated power grab
The rebels overran Sanaa in September 2014 and expanded their control to other parts of Yemen.
In February last year, they had set up a “Supreme Revolutionary Council” to run the country after they announced the dissolution of the government and parliament.
UN-sponsored talks between the rebels and representatives of Hadi’s government, which began on April 21, have failed to make headway.
The negotiations were launched after the United Nations secured an agreement on a cease-fire in the war-torn country.
The main stumbling block at the talks in Kuwait was the form of the government in Sanaa.
The Hadi government say that he is the legitimate head of state and should preside over a transitional period in the country.
But the rebels insist on forming a national unity government to oversee the transition.
More than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since the coalition intervened to restore Hadi’s government.
Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.

Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 46 min 32 sec ago

Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

Meanwhile, coalition fighter jets on Sunday carried out a series of strikes targeting Houthi positions west of Marib. The strikes, which were accompanied by shelling, came after the Iranian-supported militia launched ballistic missiles toward the city of Marib. Coalition forces successfully intercepted the missiles, Yemeni army media said.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.