Houthi obstinacy handicap peace efforts in Yemen
UN-brokered peace efforts to end the war in Yemen have made no progress, with the Houthis and the government squabbling over key issues such as flights from Sanaa airport, halting military operations and airstrikes, and Hodeidah seaport revenues, a senior government official told Arab News.
During talks with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and Omani mediators, the Houthis demanded arranging unchecked direct flights to Iran, Syria and Lebanon, halting Arab coalition airstrikes, and easing restrictions on traffic to and from the seaport as preconditions for agreeing to a truce, the Yemeni government official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
The government has rejected the Houthis’ demands.
It insists on arranging inspected flights from Sanaa to limited regional and international destinations such as Egypt, India, Sudan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It also wants the Houthis to stop their military operations before airstrikes are halted, and for seaport revenues to be deposited into the central bank in Hodeidah and used to pay public servants.
If the Houthis agreed to those demands, the government would then engage in direct talks with them to end the war, the official said.
“The Houthis are demanding that the ceasefire be divided: First halting airstrikes and then stopping military operations on the ground,” the official told Arab News.
The government is concerned that the Houthis might ferry fighters and weapons from Iran on direct flights.
The Houthis might also exploit the absence of Arab coalition warplanes to advance on the ground because airstrikes have foiled their attempt to make gains, according to military officers.