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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Aden - Ali Rabih

UN Envoy Visits Sanaa to Pressure Houthis to Extend Yemen Truce

UN Envoy Hans Grundberg with the President of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), Rashad al-Alimi (Saba)

The UN Envoy, Hans Grundberg, arrived in Sanaa Wednesday as part of his efforts to persuade the Houthi militias to extend Yemen’s truce according to his proposed plan.

The international community is optimistic that Grundberg will agree with the Yemeni government and the Houthi militias to extend the truce for a period longer than two months.

Observers are afraid clashes will return on a larger scale, especially with the militias' intransigence and refusal to lift the siege on Taiz and put it forward as a condition for obtaining new political and economic gains.

In a statement, Grundberg announced he met with the President of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), Rashad al-Alimi, in Riyadh to discuss ongoing efforts to implement and extend the truce.

During his visit to Riyadh, the Special Envoy also met with senior Saudi officials who expressed Saudi Arabia's strong support for the UN's efforts to extend the Yemen truce to reach a comprehensive ceasefire and a durable political settlement.

The envoy indicated that he traveled to Muscat, Oman, where he met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate, Badr Albusaidi, and other senior Omani officials. He praised Oman's critical role in supporting UN efforts.

In Muscat, Grundberg met with the Houthis' chief negotiator and spokesman, Mohammed Abdulsalam. They discussed the UN proposal to extend and expand the agreement beyond Oct. 2.

Grundberg indicated that he discussed with Abdulsalam extending the truce, which could allow Yemenis to progress in a broader basket of priorities and provide the space to prepare for movement toward inclusive political negotiations, including a nationwide ceasefire.

Grundberg warned of the return of war, saying: "We are at a crossroads where the risk of a return to war is real, and I am urging the parties to choose an alternative that prioritizes the needs of the Yemeni people."

Meanwhile, a member of the government negotiating delegation, Nabil Jamel, said on Twitter that the team received a new proposal from the UN envoy, adding that opening the main roads in Taiz and the rest of the provinces and paying the employees' salaries is a top priority.

Jamel hoped Houthis would realize the importance of responding to international efforts to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis.

Official Yemeni sources reported Alimi, accompanied by PLC members, met with the Grundberg. Alimi affirmed to the envoy the commitment of the Council and the government to the comprehensive peace approach based on the references of the Gulf initiative, the national dialogue, and the relevant international resolutions, especially Resolution 2216.

Saba news agency reported that the meeting touched on the coordinated UN efforts with the region and the international community to renew the truce and extend it, aiming to alleviate the human suffering of the Yemeni people.

They also addressed the international efforts required to pressure the Houthi militias to fulfill their obligations under the UN Declaration and the Stockholm Agreement.

In addition to the international efforts led by Grundberg, the international community, the EU, and the US are pressing for the extension of the Yemeni truce, but the Houthis' failure to end the siege on Taiz is still an obstacle to moving forward with other issues.

In his latest statements, the Houthi spokesman hinted that the militia would impede the implementation of the UN envoy's proposals, as the group requires the opening of Sanaa airport commercially and the abolition of control over imports to Hodeidah port away from the mechanisms approved by the Yemeni government.

Abdulsalam said that Houthis also want the legitimate government to pay salaries without using the money the militias earn in its control areas.

The Yemeni government says that during the past six months, the Houthi militias obtained about YR200 billion from levies on fuel imports to Hodeidah port.

Furthermore, its senior leaders recently threatened to target oil facilities under the legitimate government and export ports in the Arabian Gulf if they did not receive a share of the revenues.

Yemeni political sources believe the UN envoy will at least be able to gain the approval of the two parties to extend the truce with its current terms if he is unable to convince them to include a mechanism for paying employees' salaries, making other destinations available to and from Sanaa airport, and ensuring the flow of increased fuel quantities to Hodeidah port.

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