Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s Houthis and the central government appeared to move closer to an agreement to end the bloodshed that has recently gripped the country, following Omani–Iranian pressure on the Shi’ite Houthi movement.
Yemeni sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that renewed international and regional efforts are currently being exerted to secure an agreement between Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis and the central government to end the ongoing conflict, currently taking place in several regions across the country, between rebel fighters on one side and government forces and allied tribes on the other.
A high-level Yemeni source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, cited Omani–Iranian mediation that is seeking to pressure the Houthis to sign a UN-brokered agreement. The UN’s special adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar has intensified mediation efforts with both parties this week, meeting with Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi in Saada on Wednesday.
The Houthis had walked out of previous government talks, citing “foreign intervention” in reference to a G10 statement accusing the Shi’ite movement of being responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Embattled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has already offered to appoint a new government, granting the Houthis broader powers and rolling back a controversial fuel subsidy cut. The Houthis, who have moved from protests in Sana’a to armed confrontations against government troops in other parts of the country, have so far rejected the deal.
Following his meeting with Abdul Malik Al-Houthi on Wednesday, Benomar told Yemen’s state-owned SABA news agency that the talks had lasted three hours and focused on “solutions to the crisis that can be agreed on by all parties and which are based on the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference.”
Benomar described the talks as “constructive and positive,” adding that the consultations with the Houthi leader would continue on Thursday. However, local and regional sources reported that armed Shi’ite rebels had advanced into the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Thursday after clashing with the army in the city’s northwest outskirts in what represents the biggest escalation in the ongoing clashes.
Reuters reported that Houthi gunmen were advancing eastwards into the city center amid fears the latest round of violence could destabilize the talks. A military source also said that Houthi fighters had attacked an army camp located on the southern entrance of the capital but that soldiers had repelled the assault.
Additional reporting by Hamdan Al-Rahbi.