Yemen peace negotiations back on track

EHRAN (Tasnim) – Yemen’s warring factions agreed on an agenda for UN-backed peace negotiations, delegates said, following heavy pressure from world powers.

The talks to end fighting between the Houthis and supporters of Saudi-backed fugitive former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi were launched last week but were suspended on Sunday amid bickering about flights over Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthis argue that the flights constitute a violation of the truce that began on April 10 to facilitate the talks. The pro-Hadi delegation insists the flights are intended to prevent the Houthis and their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, from moving heavy weapons around.

Differences over the agenda had made it difficult for the two sides to start real negotiations to end the 13-month war that has killed more than 6,200 people, wounded more than 35,000 and displaced more than 2.5 million people.

The two sides had agreed last week to a five-point agenda outlined by the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, but remained divided over whether to start with a unity government or to focus on a Houthi withdrawal from the cities and the handover of their weapons.

Delegates said the two sides had agreed on Tuesday to work in two parallel committees.

“The talks will start tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss this agenda,” one delegate told Reuters.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, whose country is hosting the talks, had personally waded into the dispute, helping to smooth differences over the truce and over the agenda, delegates said.

Delegates said Tuesday’s talks followed strong pressure from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“The diplomats were quite tough and used harsh language, telling them that peace in Yemen was important for regional security and that no one would be allowed to leave Kuwait without an agreement,” one source told Reuters.

Yemen’s crisis began in September 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sana’a. A Saudi-led Arab alliance intervened in March last year, launching a campaign of mostly airstrikes against the Houthis in support of Hadi’s forces.

By Tasnim News Agency