AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government troops on Thursday opened three main roads in the provinces of Dhale and Taiz as a goodwill gesture on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha and implementing a UN-brokered truce.
The Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units on the country’s western coast, announced unilaterally opening the main road linking Mocha with the city of Taiz through the Al-Bareh area from one side.
They urged the Iran-backed Houthis to open the road that goes through areas under their control in Al-Bareh.
The same military forces in April opened the Al-Jarahi-Heys road in the western province of Hodeidah. The two roads have been closed for the last three years when government troops advanced into Houthi-controlled areas in Hodeidah and Taiz.
In southern Dhale province, Gov. Ali Mohqbel Saleh on Thursday officially opened two main roads linking it with Sanaa and Ibb.
The first road links Dhale with Houthi-held Sanaa through Damet. The second connects Dhale with the central city of Ibb through the Qa’tabah and Al-Fakher areas.
Saleh urged the Houthis to reciprocate this move by opening roads under their control during the Eid festival to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis.
“The ball is now in the court of the putschist Houthi militia, which must take the initiative and open the roads. The local authority appreciates all the efforts made by the UN envoy, the legitimate government, and all international organizations to open roads for commercial movement, traffic, and movement of citizens,” he was quoted as saying by official media.
Under the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2, warring factions agreed to stop hostilities, allow the resumption of commercial flights from Sanaa, ease restrictions on Hodeidah port, and open roads in Taiz and other provinces.
Discussions about opening roads in Taiz collapsed in Amman last month, as the Houthis refused two suggestions for opening main roads in and out of Taiz. They alternatively insisted on opening a small, old road.
The Houthi resistance to suggestions on Taiz has caused local and international outrage, with people calling on the international community to criticize the militia for spoiling peace efforts to end Yemenis’ suffering.
Jean-Marie Safa, the French ambassador to Yemen, on Thursday urged the Houthis to show the world they were serious about making peace in Yemen by opening roads in Taiz and other provinces. He thanked the Yemeni government for offering concessions during talks on opening roads.
“Opening at least one main road in Taiz is the only way to put an end to the suffering of the population in this city, to improve the humanitarian situation and an opportunity to confirm the Houthis’ choice of peace,” the ambassador tweeted.
Despite the growing pressure, the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council said Wednesday the movement would not open any main roads in Taiz until government troops defending the besieged city had left.
It renewed its pledge to open one small road in Taiz.