AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Representatives from the Yemeni government and the Houthis convened in Amman on Saturday to discuss a final draft of an agreement on opening roads in Taiz and elsewhere.
The discussions on opening the regions’ roads began on Wednesday, and are part of the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2.
The talks were on the verge of collapse on Friday, with the Yemeni government threatening to walk away after the Houthis refused to open the main roads that link the city of Taiz with Hodeidah, Aden and Sanaa, suggesting only opening a narrow mountain route.
Maj. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mahmoudi, deputy head of the Yemeni government delegation on Taiz, told Arab News that it had insisted on lifting the Houthis’ siege of the city by opening the main roads.
“The Houthis want to impose their conditions,” Al-Mahmoudi said.
Taiz Gov. Nabil Shamsan said a military operation would break the siege of Taiz if the talks in Amman did not lead to the reopening roads.
“As Taiz holds an olive branch today, it also possesses a shield and a sword. Taiz is currently fortified by an unprecedented national alignment that is growing every moment,” the governor tweeted.
Other military officials and activists also demanded the use of military force to end the siege.
“The least costly solution to lift the siege on Taiz is to return to the military option by supporting the forces to get rid of the Houthi shame. And this is the safest solution not only for Taiz, but for all Yemen,” Ibrahim Abdul Gader, an activist, tweeted.
Dozens of human rights groups, activists, government officials and Taiz residents have launched a new campaign on social media, using hashtag #Siege_of_Taiz_crime, to pressure the world to order the Houthis to open roads in the city.
Yemenis widely circulated images of cars loaded with goods and fuel overturning on the steep and unpaved slopes drivers were forced to turn to after the Houthis blocked the city’s main entrances.
Marwan Ali Noman, deputy permanent representative of Yemen to the UN, described the siege of the city as “ a war crime” that must be ended.
“The siege by #Houthis on #Taiz in #Yemen for more than 7 years now is a smirch on humanity. This war crime must end now,” Noman tweeted.
Yemenis say that many residents in Taiz evacuated their homes near the Houthi checkpoints that blockade the city, fleeing from snipers and landmines.
The online campaign also criticized the international community for not aggressively pushing to end the siege as it did for opening Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port.
“#Taiz has been besieged by #Houthis since 2015 amid international silence that turns this tragedy into a sub-issue which receives little attention. Unfortunately, this file is only discussed marginally when there are international efforts to end this war,” Mohammed Al-Dhabyani, a Yemeni TV anchor, tweeted.