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U.S. Official: Solution in Yemen Starts with Security before Politics | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Anti-Houthi fighters of the Southern Popular Resistance stand on a tank in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden May 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Jeddah, Aden- A high-ranking U.S. official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that his country agrees it is necessary to reach an immediate cessation of fighting in Yemen, in addition to a comprehensive solution, which should be sequential in its security and political steps.

“There should be actions to remove the armed forces from Sana’a before a new cabinet is formed to take power in the capital,” he said.

The U.S. official, who wished to remain anonymous, denied the presence of a dispute with U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, asserting that all news reported in this regard was incorrect.

Last week, Yemeni diplomatic sources spoke about a dispute between the U.N. special envoy and the U.S. Department of State concerning the priorities of the peace initiative in Yemen.

However, the comments of the U.S. official cut the road to any speculations in this regard, particularly at a time when Ould Cheikh has already started a regional tour to revive the frozen Yemeni peace talks.

Peace talks to end 18 months of fighting in Yemen collapsed in August in Kuwait and Houthi militias there resumed shelling into Saudi Arabia.

Ould Cheikh’s spokesman Charbel Raji asserted that the U.N. envoy does not only carry a ceasefire file with him, but also a file of “political negotiations” based on the recommendations placed during the peace talks held in Kuwait to reach a peaceful solution to the fighting.

“The security solution in Yemen represents the entrance to any political solution,” Political analyst Najib Gholab told Asharq Al-Awsat.

At the field level, the Arab Coalition forces in Yemen announced yesterday morning that it launched an operation to rescue the passengers onboard a U.A.E. civil ship.

The Coalition said in a statement its forces operating in Yemen had embarked on an operation to rescue passengers after Houthi militias targeted a civilian vessel (SWIFT), owned by an Emirates maritime company during one of its routine trips to and from the city of Aden to transfer aid, in addition to evacuating injured civilians who had to complete their treatment outside Yemen.

“This comes as an indicator of a serious work to confirm the orientation of these militias to carry out terrorist operations targeting the international civil navigation and relief ships, at Bab al-Mandab,” the statement said.

It added that coalition air and naval forces had started chasing the boats that carried out the attack.