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Yemen: Government mulls fresh Houthi demands - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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People gather near a car damaged by a mortar shell during fighting between Houthi militants and government forces in Sana'a. (Reuters Photos)

People gather near a car damaged by a mortar shell during fighting between Houthi militants and government forces in Sana’a. (Reuters Photos)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s central government is considering a new set of demands issued by the Shi’ite Houthi movement to end the politial unrest and bloodshed that has engulfed the country, high-level political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The new Houthi demands come following renewed international efforts to end the conflict between the Shi’ite rebels and government forces and allied tribes, with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar meeting with both sides this week as part of efforts to secure a deal.

During talks on Thursday, Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi informed Benomar of the group’s new demands, which include full control of the port of Midi in Yemen’s western Al-Hudaydah province. The Houthis are also demanding a stronger role in government, including input into the selection of ministers, as well as a permanent Houthi military presence in the capital Sana’a, a senior political source speaking on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Following Omani-Iranian pressures on the Shi’ite rebel group, Benomar met with the Houthi leadership on Wednesday and Thursday in what he described as “constructive and positive” talks.

The UN official told Yemen’s state-owned SABA news agency: “I met with Abdul Malik Al-Houthi within the framework of discussions with all concerned parties in a bid to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis in Yemen.”

The talks 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.”

On the security level, violent clashes erupted in western parts of Sana’a on Thursday between Houthi militants and pro-government People’s Committees. At least ten rebels were killed with dozens more reported injured.

Eye-witnesses informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthi fighters attacked a government military checkpoint close to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s residence before they were repelled by militia loyal to the government.

“Shamlan [a suburb of Sana’a] has turned into a battleground with all kinds of weapons being used. Dead bodies are strewn across the main road and side streets,” Kamal, a resident of the district, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi chaired a meeting of the Supreme Military and Security Committee on Thursday to discuss the latest unrest. The committee condemned the “Houthi escalation in and around Sana’a which represents a threat to security, stability and public tranquility in the city and coincides with current efforts to secure a solution to the current crisis,” Yemen’s state-owned SABA news agency reported.