Al Mukalla: The Yemeni government delegation taking part in peace talks in Kuwait has flatly denied media reports about getting closer to reaching a peace deal that would stop more than a year of conflict, a senior government delegate told Gulf News on Thursday.
“It is a chicken and egg situation. For two months, we have been pointlessly repeating the same thing; what should come first; Al Houthi withdrawal from cities or forming unity government,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief reporters on closed-door discussions.
Two months ago, warring factions convened in Kuwait in a new round of peace talks to end months of bloody conflicts that sparked after Al Houthis’ overthrow of the internationally supported president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi early last year.
Saudi-owned media outlets have recently published a draft of a proposal initiated by Saudi Arabia aimed at ending the impasse in peace talks and reaching a common ground. The proposal includes Al Houthis’ handing over of arms and security to neutral military officers who are not involved in the fighting, issuing general amnesty for Al Houthis and their allies, forming unity government and finally discussing a transitional period.
The Saudi media said UN envoy to Yemen Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad would present the proposal to the Yemeni delegations. “No one has been informed about the proposal. Al Houthis say they would not accept president Hadi to be in office during the transitional period and would only pull out of the capital and remain in surrounding regions,” the government delegate said.
“Can you believe it? Both delegations have never held face-to-face meetings without the UN envoy’s presence. We just begin shouting at each one when we meet,” he said.
“We met yesterday and we are meeting today [Thursday] and we are going to repeat the same thing. The discussion goes round and round. No progress at all.” the delegate concluded.
In the wake of media leaks about the Saudi proposal, Al Houthi movement spokesperson Mohammad Abdul Sallam told a Chinese TV on Tuesday that they would reject any initiative that “does not meet demands of Yemenis”.
Ali Al Bukhiti, a former spokesperson for Al Houthis who turned into a foe, on Wednesday criticised the movement for not grabbing the chance in Kuwait and making concession to end the stalemate.
“When I met the ambassadors [of the 18 countries that sponsor political process in Yemen}, they told me that they unanimously blame Al Houthis for most of obstruction to peace talks,”
Al Bukhiti told Al Arabiya TV from his experience with the rebel movement, Al Houthis would not make major concessions until the UN envoy gets in touch with their leader Abdul Malik Al Houthi. “The six wars and other events have proved that major concessions come from Abdul Malik Al Houthi only since he is the decision-maker.”