ALEXANDRIA: The leader of the Houthis has strongly rejected the current UN-brokered peace plan and ordered his supporters to keep fighting, striking a blow to efforts to end the war in Yemen.
In a televised speech on Monday, Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi said that accepting the peace plan would mean surrendering to their opponents. He called for an end to the “blockade” and Arab coalition airstrikes on his forces as preconditions for agreeing to peace talks.
“The American perspective on peace means surrender, occupation and the continuation of aggression and siege,” he said, ordering his supporters to continue their recruiting and training and to send reinforcements to the battlefields.
Martin Griffiths, the former UN special envoy to Yemen, had pushed Yemeni parties to accept a peace plan that suggested introducing a nationwide truce, reopening Sanaa airport, and lifting restrictions on Hodeidah seaports before commencing peace talks.
The UN mediator believed that stopping military operations across Yemen, including the deadly offensive by the Iran-backed Houthis on Marib city, would alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis.
But the Houthis rejected the plan, replying that the coalition should first stop airstrikes, reopen Hodeidah seaport and Sanaa airport with no restrictions on flights and destinations.
The Yemeni government said that the new peace initiative addresses Houthi concerns about the airport and the movement of goods and fuel through Hodeidah seaport, accusing the rebels of not being interested in ending the war.
On Monday, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam told Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen that they would not cease military operations soon, accusing Washington of standing by their opponents.
“Yes, the field in Marib and in the other areas are not linked to any political discussions we are having,” he said, referring to the latest international diplomatic activities by UN and Omani mediators to convince them to accept the UN peace deal.
The Houthi snubbing of peace efforts to end the war came days after the UN named Hans Grundberg, a Swedish diplomat, as a new envoy for Yemen.
Yemen political analysts argue that the Houthis are trying to send messages to the international community and the new UN envoy that they would not relinquish their military gains and no one should expect them to make big concessions to make peace.
“There is a firm belief (among the Houthis) that accepting peaceful solutions, ending the coup or abandoning military the gains is considered surrender,” Ali Al-Fakih, editor of Al-Masdar Online, told Arab News, adding that the Houthis are seeking to separate the Marib offensive from other issues, as they consider Marib to be an internal affair.
“They want to tell the international community that they only accept a solution that stops the interference of the Arab coalition in Yemen, opens airports and seaports, and accepts them as a legitimate authority.”
On Monday, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said many Houthi leaders were thought to be killed when the coalition’s warplanes hit their meeting in Rahabah district.
The warplanes also destroyed five military vehicles and killed several Houthis in the same district.
Last week, army troops and allied tribesmen made limited advances in Rahabah after seizing control of two mountains.