AL-MUKALLA: Officials and military analysts have accused the Iran-backed Houthis of exploiting a truce announced by the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen to deploy heavy equipment and military forces outside the strategic city of Marib as they prepare to launch another offensive to capture the city.
As the militia continues to mobilize military reinforcements outside the central city of Marib, Yemen’s president has again appealed to the Houthis to stop fighting, join peace talks and sever ties with Iran.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said that the Houthis breached the truce by launching drone and missile strikes on government-controlled areas and reinforcing their positions outside Marib with more troops and equipment.
In a tweet, Mubarak said that the “truce has been greatly welcomed” but is threatened by the Houthis’ breaches, including military deployments, the mobilization of troops and vehicles, and artillery and drone strikes.
Yahiya Abu Hatem, a military analyst, told Arab News that Marib city is facing a “serious threat” from the latest Houthi military deployments of new forces, tanks, rocket launchers, artilleries and BMP military vehicles, calling for the coalition to resume airstrikes.
“The airstrikes must be resumed. The legitimate government and the coalition must not let Marib fall prey to the Houthis,” Abu Hatem said.
Speaking on Monday evening to a gathering of senior government officials and participants in the Yemeni consultations in Riyadh, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi called upon the Houthis to relinquish their ideologies and expansionist ambitions, stop serving Iran’s agenda, form a political party and come to the negotiating table with his government to find a settlement to end the war.
“I tell you, come back as a Yemeni political component that adheres to the republican and national constants, unity and democracy, and come to the dialogue table to make peace for our Yemeni people,” Hadi said, repeating his accusations against the Iranian regime of undermining peace and security in Yemen by supporting the Houthis.
“Stay away from Iran’s destructive projects and come back to heal the wounds of our torn homeland and to [pledge] our loyalty to the united and great Yemen. Our hand is extended to you for a comprehensive and just peace,” the president added.
The raging war that has killed thousands of Yemenis started in late 2014 when the Houthis militarily took power in Yemen, forcing Hadi and his government to the southern city of Aden.
In a bid to find a solution to the conflict, the Gulf Cooperation Council has sponsored comprehensive and direct consultations between Yemeni factions at its headquarters in Riyadh.
At Monday’s iftar, Hadi also urged participants in the consultations to set their differences aside and focus on developing a roadmap for achieving peace and stability in the country, stressing that he would approve any recommendations to come out of the conference.
“I am with you and with any recommendations that support unity and seek to build a state with strong national institutions,” he said.
The Houthis rejected repeated calls from the GCC and many other countries to join the conference and demanded direct talks with Saudi Arabia.
Yemeni political analysts say that it is unlikely that the Houthis would positively respond to Hadi’s call for peace.
Ali Al-Fakih, editor of Al-Masdar Online, told Arab News that the Houthis would snub Hadi’s call as they see him as their primary enemy and think they have an upper hand on the battlefields and can make gains more quickly through military operations than peace talks.
“They believe that they are militarily superior and are able to achieve more gains through force, not through consultations,” Al-Fakih said.