The United Nations and Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement have reached an agreement to restart a new round of peace talks with negotiators from the resigned government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to end the nearly two-year-old conflict in the Arab country.
The United Nations special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said on Monday that he had recently met with Ansarullah and the General People's Congress leaders, and the two sides had agreed on talks in the Jordanian capital city of Amman on the formation of a ceasefire committee before the UN-sponsored peace talks later this year, Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported.
Yemeni sources say the talks on the ceasefire committee will last a week, and UN experts in addition to representatives from the Ansarullah movement and the Saudi-backed former Yemeni regime will head to Saudi Arabia once a truce agreement has been struck in Amman.
The UN envoy said earlier that the talks in Jordan would deal with the technical aspects of the ceasefire committee, and political issues are excluded from the forthcoming negotiations.
On October 29, 2016, Hadi rejected a peace proposal by the UN envoy, saying the plan “rewards” the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Details of the road map, which includes security and political arrangements, have not been made public, but according to informed sources, the proposed peace roadmap gives the Houthis, who are in control of large swathes of the country, including the capital of Sana’a, a share of the future government.
The plan also shrinks the president’s powers in exchange for the Houthis’ withdrawal from several major cities, including the capital, and the handover of their heavy weapons to a third party.
The president must also transfer power to the vice president, who in return appoints a new premier to form a new government, in which the Houthi-controlled north and the pro-Hadi south would have equal representation.
Strategic Red Sea port of Mukha not taken by Hadi loyalists
Meanwhile, the Yemeni Defense Ministry has roundly dismissed reports that Hadi loyalists have captured the port city of Mukha, situated 346 kilometers south of Sana'a.
A source in the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Yemeni soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Committees had engaged in fierce skirmishes with the Saudi-sponsored militiamen in Dhubab district overlooking the Bab el-Mandeb strait, killing scores of the armed men.
The source added that Saudi military aircraft were supporting the pro-Saudi gunmen during the firefight, noting that there were dozens of African nationals among the Saudi mercenaries.
The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, says the Yemeni conflict has claimed the lives of 10,000 people and left 40,000 others wounded.
McGoldrick told reporters in Sana’a on January 16 that the figure is based on lists of victims gathered by health facilities and the actual number might be higher.
The Saudi war on Yemen, which local sources say has killed at least 11,400 people, was launched in an unsuccessful attempt to bring back the former government to power.
The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools and factories.