Dubai: Yemen’s internationally-recognised government has demanded the release of all politicians and military officials kidnapped by the Al Houthi militia, and the handover of control of all government institutions, as a good-will gesture ahead of the upcoming UN-sponsored talks in Geneva. The talks are aimed at ending the crisis engulfing Yemen, an official said yesterday.
Mohammad Al Sa’di, Yemen’s minister of industry and member of the official delegation to the Geneva talks, said that the government delegation has held a series of “positive” meetings in the past few days to prepare for the next week’s talks, including a meeting with the UN envoy to Yemen, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, who has handed the Yemeni leadership a draft agenda for talks.
“The Yemeni government delegation has submitted its amendments to Geneva 2 agenda to the UN envoy and [said] that consultations are focusing now on reaching an agreement that is based on the implementation of the UN resolutions 2216 to end the Yemeni crisis,” Al Sa’di was quoted by the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al Awsat as saying.
Proposed amendments include adopting confidence-building measures before engaging in political talks through several steps, mainly the “release of kidnapped officials and activists, the handover of the government institutions, and the withdrawal from the cities” the Yemeni minister said.
“We know that Al Houthis and [former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah] Saleh are stubborn [in their attitudes] towards these demands, but we place the [demands] among our priorities,” he said.
The draft agenda includes discussions on immediate measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Yemen, revive its economy, release prisoners and reach a ceasefire in different areas as prelude to a comprehensive ceasefire across the country, according to press reports.
“I believe this time everybody wants to go to Geneva with the desire to remove all the obstacles in the path of talks, with an emphasis on the basis of the talks, including the UN resolution 2216,” Fu’ad Rashid, one of the leaders of the southern movement, said in an interview with Gulf News. Rashid, who is based in Cairo, even anticipated a third round of talks.
“The legitimate [Hadi] government is responsible in front of the world for its citizens and wants to achieve peace, unlike the militants,” added Rashid, , referring to Al Houthis and their supporters.
“I can tell from the statements of Al Houthi leaders and Saleh that they are ready to go [to the talks] because the reality on the ground is pushing them to go to Geneva to reach a settlement,” Rashid said, adding that Al Houthis are in a “very bad military situation”.
Meanwhile, Yemeni government troops and their supporters have reportedly recaptured the strategic town of Jaar in southern Abyan province from Al Qaida and its supporters in southern Yemen.
The town was recaptured less than 24 hours after falling into the hands of Al Qaida, according to press reports.
Jaar is considered a key link between Aden, where the internationally-recognised government has its temporary headquarters, and Al Mukalla, the Al Qaida-held capital of south-eastern Hadramout province, military sources explained.
Also, the first Sudanese soldier was killed in fighting to liberate Al Sharija area in Lahj province from Al Houthi control.
The solider’s death came one day after the Yemeni army began a large-scale operation in the area with the participation of Sudanese troops.
“In this battle, units of the Sudanese army are participating [for the first time] with the members of the Popular Resistance with an air cover provided by the [Arab] coalition against Al Houthi militants and forces [loyal] to Saleh,” press reports quoted Qaid Nasr, a spokesperson for the Popular Resistance, as saying.
Al Sharija’s recapture is important for the military advance towards Taiz, and the attempts to wrest control of the city from Al Houthi militants, reports said.