Gulf states hold Yemen talks despite boycott by Houthi rebels

Six nations including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are meeting in Riyadh

Jon Gambrell
Tuesday 29 March 2022 12:32
Comments
<p>Houthi supporters attend a rally marking the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in Yemen's war in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday</p>

Houthi supporters attend a rally marking the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in Yemen's war in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday

Gulf Arab states are gathering for a summit on Tuesday about the years-long war in Yemen, which the country’s Houthi rebels are boycotting because it is taking place in Saudi Arabia, their adversary in the conflict.

The decision by the Iran-backed Houthis to skip the summit, called by the Saudi-based Gulf Cooperation Council, immediately called into question the effectiveness of such a gathering.

The UN, diplomats and others have been pushing for another potential cease-fire to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, similar to efforts for a truce over the past years. Ramadan is likely to start this weekend, depending on the sighting of the new crescent moon.

The GCC — a six-nation club including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — was to hold closed-door talks Tuesday in Riyadh. On Monday, the GCC’s Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf held talks with British Ambassador to Yemen Richard Oppenheim and Yemeni officials allied with its internationally recognized but exiled government.

Those talks saw Mr Al-Hajraf, a Kuwaiti politician, discuss “efforts to stop the war and ways to achieve comprehensive peace to alleviate the human suffering witnessed by Yemeni people,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The Houthis, meanwhile, have rejected the summit because of its venue in Saudi Arabia, as well as the continuing closure of Sanaa’s airport and restrictions on the country’s ports by the Saudi-led coalition that is waging war on the Houthis.

The rebels, who over the weekend attacked an oil depot in the Saudi city of Jeddah ahead of a Formula One race there, have called for the talks to be held in a “neutral” country.

“The Saudi regime must prove its seriousness towards peace ... by responding to a cease-fire, lifting the siege and expelling foreign forces from our country,” Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdul-Salam wrote on Twitter. “Then peace will come and it is time to talk about political solutions in a calm atmosphere away from any military or humanitarian pressure.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke late on Monday with Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. The US State Department said the two “discussed support for the UN’s proposal for a Ramadan truce in Yemen and efforts to launch a new, more inclusive and comprehensive peace process.”

Yemen’s war began in September 2014, when the Houthis swept into the capital, Sanaa, from their northwestern stronghold in the Arab world’s poorest country. The Houthis then pushed into exile the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, elected in 2012 as the sole candidate after the long rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, entered the war in March 2015 to try and restore Mr Hadi’s government to power. But the war stretched into long bloody years, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the warfare, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. Those include both fighters and civilians; the most-recent figure for the civilian death toll in Yemen’s conflict stands at 14,500.

Also, Saudi airstrikes have killed hundreds of civilians and targeted the country’s infrastructure. The Houthis have used child soldiers and indiscriminately laid landmines across the country.

Meanwhile, gunmen shot and killed a security officer in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden on Tuesday, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief journalists.

They identified the slain officer as Capt. Karam al-Mashraqi, with the UAE-backed Security Belt militia. Mr Al-Mashraqi was the second senior security official killed this month in Aden, the seat of Mr Hadi’s government.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing.

Associated Press

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in