Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Yemen under threat of division and civil war: Socialist Party chief
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Yemeni Socialist Party leader Abdulraham Al-Saqqaf speaks to Asharq Al-Awsat in Sana'a, Yemen. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Yemeni Socialist Party leader Abdulraham Al-Saqqaf speaks to Asharq Al-Awsat in Sana’a, Yemen. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen has become an arena for foreign powers to settle scores and is on the verge of civil war, Yemeni Socialist Party leader Abdulrahman Al-Saqqaf has warned.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saqqaf called on Yemen’s rival political powers to set aside their differences and agree to hold dialogue to reach a political solution to the ongoing crisis.

The Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthis are in control of the capital Sana’a and much of central and northern Yemen, while President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is making moves to form a new government in Aden.

Both sides have agreed to attend a political dialogue to address the deteriorating political and security situation in the country, but questions remain over the location of the talks. Hadi is refusing to return to Sana’a, where the Houthis had placed him under house arrest, while the Houthi leadership has refused to attend dialogue outside of the Yemeni capital.

“The issue of the location of this dialogue should not be transformed into a means to waste time. The reality on the ground indicates that some regions are taking up arms and it is said that there is regional support [for some parties] and this could lead to civil war,” Saqqaf said.

“The Yemeni Socialist Party accepts dialogue anywhere in Yemen, or any neutral place outside of Yemeni, so long as this process does not allow for the dialogue to be prolonged,” he added.

The Yemeni Socialist Party leader stressed that negotiations, which are being brokered by the UN, must go ahead as soon as possible. He criticized the current course of talks as being “too slow.”

“If there is no dialogue. . . . There is a great possibility that this will lead to armed conflict which would be a grave threat to the Yemeni state,” Saqqaf said.

With the Shi’ite Houthis in control of Sana’a, and Yemen’s legitimate and internationally recognized president seeking to establish Aden as Yemen’s new de facto capital, Yemen is facing a genuine threat of division and fragmentation, Saqqaf said.

“The existing political dialogue, until now, has not produced any results, and this will continue to only get worse so long as both sides are being supported by opposing external parties who have turned Yemen into an arena to settle their own scores,” he added.