AL-MUKALLA: Martin Griffiths, UN special envoy to Yemen, on Friday urged warring factions in Yemen to seize the available opportunities and make concessions to reach an agreement to end the war.
Griffiths’ appeal comes as his latest efforts to convince the Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthis to accept his peace plan, known as the Joint Declaration, reached a deadlock.
“My recent meetings, as well as the continued international and regional support, show that the parties could still seize this opportunity and make a breakthrough toward resolving the conflict,” Griffiths said in a statement.
Houthi chief negotiator Mohammed Abdul Salam on Thursday met Griffiths after refusing to meet him during his previous visit to the Omani capital.
The US envoy Tim Lenderking has previously criticized the Houthis for snubbing the UN Yemen envoy and refusing to comply with peace ideas and pressing ahead with their deadly offensive on Yemen’s central city of Marib.
In his statement, Griffiths said that he met the Houthi negotiator and senior Omani officials in Muscat where he discussed the UN proposal for opening Sanaa airport, lifting restrictions on Hodeidah port and putting into place a nationwide cease-fire.
The Houthis demand operating unlimited and unchecked flights from and into Sanaa airport to destinations including Iran, Syria and Lebanon, lifting restrictions on Hodeidah seaports and halting Arab coalition airstrikes before they put into place the truce and stop their offensive on Marib.
In Riyadh, a senior Yemeni government official, who preferred anonymity, told Arab News that the government told Griffiths during his visit to Riyadh last week that the government insists on limited and checked flights from Sanaa airport and that airstrikes would stop after the Houthis first bring an end to their offensive on Marib.
On Wednesday, official news agency SABA reported that Yemen’s Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer and Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik met Griffiths in Riyadh and discussed with him the impact of the Houthis offensive on Marib and their military operations on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Griffiths “thanked” the Yemeni government for positively responding to peace ideas to end the war, SABA said.
On the battlefields, fighting has largely subsided over the past 48 hours in the central province of Marib after the Houthis failed to advance on the ground amid strong resistance from army troops and allied tribesmen.
Ten days ago, three military sources told Arab News that the Houthi offensive on Marib had weakened as the rebels suffered heavy casualties, defections and attritions.
Thousands of combatants have been killed in the central province of Marib since February when the Houthis renewed a major offensive to seize control of the oil and gas-rich city of Marib, Yemen government’s last bastion in northern Yemen.
Meanwhile, the Arab coalition intercepted a Houthi drone targeting the southern region of Saudi Arabia, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.
The coalition said that it continues to take precautions to protect civilians as the militia continues to target them, the report added.
Saudi Arabia’s civil defense said on Wednesday that several missiles fired by the militia from inside Yemen landed in the Kingdom.
Lt. Col. Mohannad bin Jasser Zailai, deputy media spokesman for the Civil Defense Directorate in Jazan region, said that authorities found five missiles near a main road of one of the border villages in Jazan.
The spokesman said that no casualties were reported.
The Houthis have struck Abha airport several times in recent years, killing one person, injuring dozens and on one occasion causing a passenger aircraft to catch fire.