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Ould Cheikh Corrects Priorities of Kerry’s Plan: Handing over Weapons First | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People salvage furniture from the rubble of a house destroyed in Sana’a. Reuters-Khaled Abdullah

Aden-While the Saudi Foreign Minister said Wednesday that his country would not allow Houthis to take over Yemen, U.N. special envoy to Yemen Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed was briefing the Security Council about the inaccuracy of leaked details that emerged in the last couple of days concerning the initiative of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.N. envoy corrected information saying the plan had called for a national unity government followed by the rebels’ handing over of weapons and their withdrawal from the country’s main cities.

Ould Cheikh said: “The suggested plan opens the door to establish a government of national unity directly after the handing over of heavy and medium weapons in Sana’a and other areas.”

Tensions in Yemen escalated when President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was sent into exile, after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his Houthi supporters seized the capital city of Sana’a in 2014.

The already frozen negotiations to end 18 months of fighting in Yemen collapsed last month and Houthi militias there resumed shelling attacks on Saudi Arabia.

The Special Envoy said that during his meetings with representatives of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the U.S., and again with the Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, there was consensus on the need for a full and comprehensive political solution, “involving clearly sequenced political and security measures, firmly grounded in the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism, Security Council resolution 2216 and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes.”

However, he said, the resumption of talks will only be possible if all the parties maintain their commitment to a negotiated settlement and refrain from unilateral actions.

The U.N. envoy condemned the announcement by Ansar Allah and former President Saleh of the formation of a Supreme Political Council with broad administrative, security, economic, and legislative powers.

“These actions breach the commitments provided by both Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress (GPC) to engage constructively in the peace process as requested by this Council and creates a new potential impediment to reach a peaceful settlement,” he said.

The U.N. envoy said he does not support moving the Central Bank in Yemen from the capital Sana’a, while condemning the Houthis’ unilateral actions.

“The Central Bank is for all Yemenis, therefore, we cannot deal with employees in the South and Aden differently,” he said, referring to the militias’ decision to stop paying the salaries of employees in the South of the country.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told Reuters Wednesday from Beijing that the ball was in the Houthis’ court to resume peace talks.

“What is certain, not questionable, certain, they will not be allowed to take over Yemen. Period. So the legitimate government will be defended,” he said.

The Foreign Minister added: “The chance they have is to enter the political process, reach an agreement … for the benefit of all Yemenis including the Houthis.”

Ambassador of Yemen to the U.N. Khaled Hussein Alyemany told the Security Council that the Yemeni government wants a just and peaceful solution to end the sufferings of the people.

He said his government and the international community “would not accept the presence of Lebanese Hezbollah militias inside Yemen,” adding that Iran was interfering in Yemeni affairs and was supporting sectarianism.