Yemeni FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: UN Envoy Will Realize Futility of Peace Talks with Houthis

Yemeni FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: UN Envoy Will Realize Futility of Peace Talks with Houthis

Monday, 13 August, 2018 - 06:00
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani. (Getty Images)
Jeddah – Saeed al-Abyadh
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani said that his government was awaiting United Nations special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ invitation to attend consultations in Geneva in September.

He stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the legitimate government was prepared to “go all the way” with the talks.

The envoy will eventually reach a personal conviction that peace cannot be reached with the Iran-backed Houthis, he added, noting that his predecessor, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, made the same conclusion and announced it before the UN Security Council.

Efforts to build trust must be exerted before taking any measures and this message was clearly delivered to Griffiths by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

These efforts must include the release of prisoners and delivery of aid, which is being looted on a daily basis by the Houthis, he explained.

“There are many trust-building steps that we had spoken about in Geneva and at the Kuwait talks in the past, but the Houthis did not agree to them,” he said.

Furthermore, Yamani said that the Houthis are using children and civilian detainees and captives as human shields.

This was demonstrated during last week’s bus attack in Saada, he noted. The militias know that the Saudi-led Arab coalition would not target a bus that is transporting children.

“Much has been said about this incident despite a lack of real information. This region does not have schools, so where did the children come from? Where were they going?” he asked.

“As I mentioned, the militias are using children as shields, to protect them from coalition strikes, in violation of international law,” the minister charged. The West is choosing to ignore these facts.

On whether the government would reject Griffiths’ invitation to attend the Geneva consultations should the agenda include articles it does not want to discuss, Yamani said: “We should not get ahead of ourselves.”

He recalled how the government had previously warned Ould Cheikh against believing the Houthis, citing that their leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, had been blacklisted.

“We had explained to him that these gangs would not yield to the peace conditions because they are a product of Iranian experts and [Lebanon’s] ‘Hezbollah’,” he said.

In addition, he stressed that his government refuses to discuss the proposal on the Hodeidah province at the Geneva meeting.

It will not hold negotiations over this issue because the Houthis have so far refused to withdraw from the province. The main condition in the Hodeidah proposal revolves around the militias’ pullout.

“Why are they rejecting the proposal? The government will present this question to the international community,” Yamani added to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Moreover, he said that Griffiths must take into consideration the consultations that had taken place in Kuwait in 2016.

“We were on the verge of reaching a comprehensive agreement …., but the Houthis, at Iran’s instruction, withdrew from the negotiations and refused to sign the agreement,” he noted.

Addressing foreign meddling in Yemen’s affairs, Yamani said that his ministry was exerting major efforts to confront this interference, especially in regards to Lebanon.

The foreign ministry had filed a complaint to Beirut in July over “Hezbollah’s” meddling in Yemen and was planning on filing lawsuits against all Houthi media outlets operating in Lebanon.

These outlets, he said, were operating illegally and backed by “Hezbollah”.

He noted that the Lebanese political class overwhelmingly supports Yemen and “we will therefore, exercise our right to defend our interests to the end. We cannot allow the terrorist ‘Hezbollah’ to carry out such actions.”

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