High-ranking officials of Saudi Arabi and Oman arrived in Yemen this Saturday to negotiate with Houthis to put an end to the years-long war in Yemen.
According to a report by Houthi news agency SABA, envoys from Saudi Arabia and Oman arrived in Yemen’s capital of Sana’a this Saturday evening to meet with the head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi al-Mashat, for talks on lifting a Saudi-led “blockade” on Yemeni ports and ending the long war in Yemen.
Speaking with the Saudi and Omani officials in in Sanaa’s presidential palace, Houthis’ President Mahdi al-Mashat asserted that his movement seeks an “honorable peace” with the Saudi-led coalition and that the people of Yemen want “freedom and independence”.
Mohammed al-Bukaiti, a high-ranking Houthi leader who earlier said on Twitter that Saudi and Omani officials would discuss “ways to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in the region,” also gave details about the trilateral talks.
In an interview with SABA news agency, al-Bukaiti also said that both sides mainly negotiated ways to end the Saudi-led blockade on Yemeni ports in particular, and terminating the war in general. He said achieving an honorable peace between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia would be “a triumph for both parties”, and urged all sides to take steps to “preserve a peaceful atmosphere and prepare to turn the page of the past”.
Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy for Yemen, also praised the ongoing efforts to end the war and described the current opportunity for a lasting peace between Yemen and Saudi Arabia as “the closest Yemen has been to real progress towards lasting peace” since the war erupted back in 2014.
“This is a moment to be seized and built on and a real opportunity to start an inclusive political process under UN auspices to sustainably end the conflict,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
Other anonymous sources also told Reuters that the talks are mostly focused on a full reopening of Houthi-controlled ports and the Sanaa airport, payment of wages for public servants, rebuilding efforts and a timeline for foreign forces to exit the country. Saudi Arabia has not yet commented on the news.
Saudi-Iran rapprochement, a gateway for ending Yemen war
The ongoing peace initiatives to end the 9-year-old war in Yemen have gained momentum after the Chinese-brokered rapprochement was announced earlier this March between Saudi Arabia and Iran to end years of conflict and tensions. During the talks, the two sides agreed to put aside differences and reach to a practical way to end the war in Yemen.
The Yemen war is in fact seen as one of several proxy battles between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Houthis, aligned with Iran, ousted a Saudi-backed government from Sanaa in late 2014, and have de facto control of north Yemen, saying they are rising up against a corrupt system and foreign aggression.
To change the status quo of Yemen and bring back to power Mansur Hadi in Yemen, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition backed by the United States, United Kingdom (UK), France, and Canada, to attack Yemen and wipe out Houthis. So far, the coalition has killed tens of thousands and left 80% of Yemen’s population dependent on humanitarian aid.
The latest round of efforts to create a permanent peace in Yemen began last month when at talks in Switzerland attended by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Yemeni government and the Houthis agreed to free 887 detainees, and in exchange, Saudi Arabia released 13 Houthis prisoners.