New UN special envoy visits Yemen as Houthis push towards Marib

Hans Grundberg focused on ending conflict in first visit to interim capital Aden

Fighters loyal to Yemen's government on the frontline in Marib on September 27, 2021. AFP

The newly appointed UN special envoy to Yemen has met the Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik and Southern Transitional Council leader Brig Aidarous Al Zubaidi in Aden.

In his first visit to the interim capital of Yemen, Hans Grundberg discussed political developments and the importance of the Riyadh Agreement in delivering stability, basic services and a functional economy.

Earlier on Monday, he visited the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he met Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al Jaber.

He also met Yemeni officials, and diplomats from the UN Security Council, the EU and the EU Commission, as well as the Secretary of State for Germany’s foreign office.

While in Riyadh, Mr Grundberg held talks focused on putting an end to the conflict in Yemen and starting a comprehensive peace process in the country.

“Ending the conflict and reaching a comprehensive and inclusive political solution that meets the aspirations of Yemenis should be the primary and urgent objective of all relevant actors. It is a shared responsibility that require everyone’s full commitment to peace efforts,” he said.

Mr Grundberg’s visit to Aden comes as Houthi rebels continue their push towards the oil-rich provinces of Marib and Shabwa.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 40 Houthi fighters and 10 pro-government troops were killed in fierce clashes in the Alfa area in Al Jubah, southern Marib, and in and around Al Khoushaina military base in Malaa Harib, about 60km from Marib city, a pro-government commander told The National.

“The clashes intensified in the southern territory of Marib in the past couple of days after the Houthi rebels pushed new reinforcements from provinces of Amran and Saada attempting to press their offensive towards the oilfields in Safer area western Marib,” said Maj Gen Murad Al Muradi, who is fighting alongside tribes in Al Jubah.

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The war in Marib will not end soon ... because the tribes will fight the Houthi rebels to the last drop of blood
Maj Gen Murad Al Muradi

“The tribes bear the brunt in the battle to deter the Houthi assault ... what is happening in southern Marib is a legendary steadfastness by the tribes as the Houthi rebels push waves of fighters continuously attempting to score any progress towards the city centre and towards Safer oilfields.

“The war in Marib will not end soon. It is heading to be a protracted conflict because the tribes will fight the Houthi rebels to the last drop of blood.”

Saudi Coalition jets succeeded in deterring the Houthi push towards Marib city through precise strikes. They caused heavy losses in the ranks of their fighters and destroyed many weapons and large amounts of equipment.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Qardaie, who is leading tribal fighters in southern Marib, told The National: "The coalition aerial cover played a significant role in the battle which has been raging in Al Khoushaina and Al Mala’a mountains between districts of Harib and Al Jubah southern Marib. Hundreds of the Houthi fighters were killed amid the air strikes there.”