Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Houthi Geneva delegation arrives in Muscat
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Yemen’s Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah visits the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 21, 2015. (Saudi Press Agency)

Yemen’s Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah visits the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 21, 2015. (Saudi Press Agency)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Houthi delegation which attended last week’s peace conference in Geneva has now headed to Muscat, according to Yemen’s human rights minister.

The delegation, which also included members of the General People’s Congress (GPC) party headed by ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, left Geneva on Sunday morning for Muscat via a private plane provided by the UN, Ezz Al-Din Asbahi told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone.

It is unclear what kind of talks the Houthis will be holding in Muscat, though the group did send a delegation to the Omani capital prior to attending the talks in Geneva.

Asbahi said the Houthi delegation had initially wanted to remain in Geneva after the end of the consultations on Friday in order to hold talks with other Yemeni political factions, but this was not possible since the UN had only agreed to host them during the period allotted for consultations with the government.

The consultations, which began last Monday, ended without an agreement being reached for a ceasefire deal. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies are currently conducting an aerial campaign targeting the Iran-backed Houthis, who launched a coup in February deposing the country’s internationally recognized president and government. The Shi’ite group has also targeted civilians and refused international calls to abide by a UN Security Council resolution adopted in April.

Asbahi, who was part of the government’s delegation, criticized the Houthis for their behavior before, during and after the consultations. The group’s delegation missed a scheduled flight headed from Yemen’s capital Sana’a to Geneva due to last-minute squabbles over who should board the plane, which was provided by the UN.

Asbahi said without international monitors on the ground in Yemen the international community did not have an accurate idea of what the Houthis truly represented. However, he believed following the meetings in Geneva, diplomats, UN representatives, and other international actors had now become familiarized with the group’s reality.

“The picture is now clear for international organizations. They are dealing with an uncontrollable group [the Houthis] which doesn’t respect rules and regulations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah on Sunday visited the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Bahah has been in the Kingdom since fleeing a Houth-imposed house arrest in Sana’a last March.

The center, dedicated to alleviating the suffering of people facing hardships around the world, opened on May 14 and immediately began delivering aid to Yemenis affected by the crisis that has gripped the country since September, when Houthi rebels overran Sana’a and began targeting civilians.

The center’s spokesman Ra’fat Al-Sabagh told reporters the center had already delivered 50,000 ready meals, 400,000 loaves of bread, and more than 100,000 containers of water for the Yemeni people—in addition to further efforts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on June 17.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz has already pledged a total of half a billion US dollars in aid in order to help Yemen’s people.