GCC to host Yemen consultations in Riyadh

Talks will be between Yemenis only and will revive UN-led peace efforts

Yemen has been mired in a stalemate since the war between the government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels broke out in 2014. AFP
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The Gulf Co-operation Council said on Thursday it will host consultations on Yemen this month as part of an initiative to revive UN-led peace efforts to end the war.

Talks between members of Yemen's internationally recognised government and representatives of the Houthi rebels are expected to take place from March 29 to April 7 in Riyadh.

“We are calling for the development of a road map that will move Yemen from a state of war to peace,” said Nayef Al Hajraf, the GCC’s secretary general.

“We hope the Yemeni consultations will establish mechanisms for humanitarian action and a political future.

“We are aiming for a comprehensive political process in Yemen in order to achieve the desired peace.”

Yemen has been in a state of stalemate for nearly eight years since the government was ousted by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in 2014. Previous efforts to end the conflict failed due to a lack of trust between the warring sides.

The war in Yemen began when the Houthis took over the capital Sanaa in 2014, triggering a civil war that has created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Previous rounds of UN talks were held in Geneva and Sweden and led to the Stockholm agreement in 2018.

The agreement was put in place to secure the Red Sea port of Hodeidah and to avoid a major military confrontation in the port city.

The Houthi offensive in Marib — in pictures

Although an agreement was reached, the important clauses — such as a ceasefire and the removal of Houthi militants from Hodeidah — were never enacted.

Earlier in 2018, the Houthis refused to attend talks in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The UAE this week called on the international community to exert more pressure on the rebels.

Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, Minister of State, reiterated the UAE's call for other nations to take serious steps against the group, saying they should think about the history that led the situation to develop in Yemen.

“As a result of this blatant intransigence and blatant violation of the international law, the war has continued, adding to the suffering of the Yemeni people,” Sheikh Shakhbout said.

A UN pledging conference held on Wednesday has raised $1.3 billion in aid to Yemen — less than a third of what the organisation had hoped for.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths called the total “a disappointment”.

Updated: March 17, 2022, 5:51 PM