ALEXANDRIA: Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has accused the Iran-backed Houthis of seeking to undermine peace efforts with recent missile strikes on the city of Marib. Hadi and a number of NGOs have called on the international community to protect Yemeni civilians from militia strikes, which have claimed dozens of lives in the last week.
Hadi said that Houthi missile and drone strikes on the densely populated city of Marib would destroy attempts to establish peace in Yemen and accused the Houthis of working on behalf of Iran.
“While the international community is working sincerely to find hope and opportunities for peace, the coup militias continue to escalate and claim innocent … lives, ignoring any efforts to spare Yemeni blood and serving Iran’s destructive projects in the region,” Hadi said in a statement carried by Yemen’s official news agency, SABA.
On Thursday, Houthi forces fired a barrage of missiles and explosive-laden drones at Marib, killing eight civilians and wounding 27 others.
The missiles and drones reportedly ripped through a mosque filled with worshippers and a prison, and later targeted ambulances.
On June 6, a missile and a rigged drone hit a gas station in Marib, killing 21 civilians including a five-year-old child, sparking outrage inside and outside Yemen.
Marib Governor Sultan Al-Arada said the Houthis’ escalating missile and drone strikes on the city prove that the rebels have no serious interest in peace initiatives to end the war in Yemen, SABA reported.
The Yemeni government on Friday renewed its support for the Saudi Initiative and the current UN-brokered peace plan, known as the Joint Declaration, and other initiatives aimed at ending the war, stressing that the government has offered concessions to pave the way for a peace settlement.
In a statement, Yemen’s Foreign Ministry said the Houthis had specified conditions for reopening Sanaa airport under the UN-brokered peace deal and that the militias are seeking to turn the airport into an entry point for military experts and weapons.
The ministry was referring to the Houthis’ demand for unchecked, unlimited flights to Sanaa airport from destinations including Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and vice-versa.
“Yemen’s government has made sufficient concessions to guarantee the safe travel of all citizens, and not to turn this airport into a point for security and military services and the smuggling of (military) experts,” the ministry said.
On Friday, an Omani delegation left Houthi-held Sanaa having failed to convince the Houthis to accept the UN peace deal. The delegation met with senior rebel officials, including Abdel Malik Al-Houthi.
Meanwhile, American and European officials have once again called on the Houthis to halt their military operations across Yemen and to engage positively with peace efforts.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said America would continue pressurizing the Houthis until they cease hostilities and agree to peace plans.
“The conflict in Yemen must end and bring relief to Yemeni people. It’s time for the Houthis to accept a ceasefire and engage in real negotiations. The United States will maintain pressure on the Houthis, including through sanctions,” Price tweeted.
Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, said after a meeting with Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak that the EU stands by the Yemeni government and its people and backs the current peace efforts led by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.
“Met with Yemen FM @BinmubarakAhmed. Expressed full EU support to Government and people of Yemen. Stressed EU work with @OSE_Yemen for immediate ceasefire and political talks. Good discussion on the importance of humanitarian access and an inclusive peace process” Fontelles tweeted on Friday.