AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government negotiators in the UN-brokered talks over the siege of Taiz on Tuesday accepted a UN proposal for initially opening a main road in the besieged city of Taiz, achieving a breakthrough in the talks and as the truce continues to produce significant benefits.
Abdul Kareem Shaiban, the head of the government’s delegation at the talks in the Jordanian capital of Amman, said that the delegation supports the UN envoy’s efforts in reaching a deal on ending the Houthi siege on Taiz, urging the international community to order the Yemeni militia to implement the UN-brokered truce and stop obstructing ideas for alleviating the suffering of the Yemenis.
“We appreciate the positive role of the UN special envoy and his team, and we hope that he will exercise the necessary pressure and quick measures on the Houthi group to speed up the implementation of the opening of the main roads, and not allow it to manipulate and consume the time of the second truce,” Shaiban said in a statement, accusing the rebels of unilaterally opening small and unpaved roads in Taiz, apparently to ease international pressure on them to end the siege of Taiz.
We appreciate the positive role of the UN special envoy and his team, and we hope that he will exercise the necessary pressure and quick measures on the Houthi group to speed up the implementation of the opening of the main roads.
Abdul Kareem Shaiban, Head of the govt’s delegation at the talks in Amman
Aiming to end the impasse in talks in Amman, the UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, on Monday said he made a proposal to the two sides for opening a main road in Taiz and roads in other provinces as a first step for completely opening routes that were closed during the war.
“The parties have a moral and political responsibility to engage seriously and urgently with the UN proposal, prioritizing the interests of civilians and delivering immediate and tangible results to the people of Taiz and Yemen at large,” Grundberg’s office said in a statement, adding that his latest proposal considered the concerns of both sides and comments from the country’s civil society.
The current discussions on the Taiz siege and opening roads in other provinces are part of the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2. Renewed for another two months, the truce significantly reduced hostilities across the country, allowed the resumption of commercial flights from the Houthi-held Sanaa airport and facilitated the arrival of fuel ships to the western city of Hodeidah.
Mistrust has overshadowed the talks on Taiz since they kicked off as both sides traded accusations over delays in opening roads in Yemen’s third-largest and most populated city. The Yemeni government said that the Houthis flatly rejected the idea of opening the main roads that link Taiz with Sanaa, Hodeidah and Aden and they alternatively suggested opening a rough and rarely used road.
The Houthis also accused the Yemeni government of refusing to open roads from areas under its control in the city. This week, residents and officials said that the Houthi bulldozers and trucks were seen clearing sands and opening an abandoned road that links the besieged town with other areas in the north and west.
The Houthi move has sparked angry reactions from disappointed residents and government officials and was widely deemed a one-sided step by the Houthis to claim they lifted the siege on Taiz.
“This is a very narrow, one-way and unpaved road,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a military officer, told Arab News by telephone.
“We want them to open Al-Huban road. This is the largest road in Taiz that links the city with the southern provinces and Taiz’s eastern countryside,” Al-Baher said.
The Yemeni official said the Houthis on Tuesday violated the truce in Taiz by launching artillery attacks that pounded army positions near an air-defense military base, northwest of Taiz.