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UN Special Envoy to Yemen Urges New Round of Talks before Ramadan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE PHOTO: United Nations envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed speaks to reporters upon his departure at Sanaa airport following a visit to Sanaa, Yemen November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Geneva –UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed expressed his hope for a new round of peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties before Ramadan month.

The Envoy told AFP that currently, things are at the preliminary stage, but time is also a real constraint and he aims to finish all of this before Ramadan, or the end of May.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed added that negotiations were underway to stave off a feared military attack on the vital Red Sea port of Hodeida, in what he hoped would be the first step towards a ceasefire. He explained that prevention of an attack on Hodeida could allow “a real cessation of hostilities and to go back to the talks.”

When asked about concerns of the coalition that the port may be used to smuggle weapons, Ould Cheikh Ahmed told AFP: “We believe that any military operation on Hodeida will have major humanitarian consequences and could lead to a very high level of civilian casualties.”

He assured that they are trying to explore various options by which inspection mechanisms can be reinforced in order to put an end or minimize the risk of any additional smuggling.

As for Houthis, the UN Envoy said they had expressed their interest in his proposals and that he aimed to invite them to a meeting in Oman next month to discuss different options.

“I’m a bit optimistic, (because) if we are able, as I am hoping, to stop the military operation in Hodeida, I think we are paving the way for new talks,” he said, adding that the negotiations would likely be held in Geneva or Kuwait.

In a related matter, Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr reiterated that the legitimate authority in Yemen will not allow the division of the country or the toppling of the authority. He added that no respected official would allow his country to be divided or be put under the control of armed militias.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on the sidelines of the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, Daghr said Yemen is the only Arab country that was able to exit the Arab Spring crisis safely. He explained that a comprehensive dialogue was held among all political parties and NGOs, adding that Yemenis agreed on the outcomes of the dialogue, which included all political forces as well as Houthi-Saleh’s militias.

The PM also reviewed stages of Houthi militias describing it as a military wing serving Iran since the launch of its insurgency in 2004 in Saada, according to Saba News Agency.

Houthis then extended to nearby governorates before taking control over the capital and waging wars on the constitutional legitimacy until they reached Bab al-Mandab Strait.

“Everything has collapsed after the militias stormed into Sana’a and toppled the regime,” he said.

Daghr praised the huge sacrifices of the Yemeni people, government, and army to reestablish the authority and stop the Iranian plan.

The government transferred the central bank to the transitional Capital of Aden after militias looted the fund reserve and other financial funds allocated for the governmental institutions. Yet, the government made sure to pay all employees their salaries all over Yemen even though insurgents confiscated all returns in areas under their control. Daghr demanded that revenues be returned to the Central Bank in Aden.

He reiterated the government’s position towards peace that is based on the three references: GCC Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and UN Resolution 2216. He warned that deviating from those references could prolong the war. Also, he thanked the countries of the Arab Coalition, mainly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for their continuous support to the Yemeni legitimate government and people.

Along with the UN, the PM confirmed that all humanitarian aid announced in the conference must be given to all citizens including those in areas under the control of militias.

“Militias’ representatives went to Geneva 1 and 2 feeling more confident, but with their continuous military failures on all fronts, they should implement the UN resolutions and end their rebellion for the greater good of the citizens and the country,” Daghr stated.

He concluded the press conference emphasizing that Yemeni people have agreed on their federal state based on the outcomes of the national dialogue, adding that the legitimacy will continue to restore all Yemeni territories under its jurisdiction.