Talks aimed at bringing a peaceful end to the civil war in Yemen ended Saturday after the Houthi delegation failed to show. The United Nations’ mediator Martin Griffiths vowed to keep pushing for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
The conflict in Yemen has become a proxy battle for supremacy in the troubled region. Saudi Arabia backs the government led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was displaced by the war. President Hadi, a Sunni Muslim, has been living in exile in Riyadh.
Iran supports the Houthi rebels, members of the Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam, who control of the capital city of Sana’a. The most recent statistics show that 56 percent of Yemen is Sunni and 42 percent identifies with the Zaidis.
Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthis blamed the Saudi-led coalition for their inability to get to the peace conference. In a speech on al-Masirah TV, he said, “We all know that the talks collapsed because of the obstruction of the national delegation from leaving and traveling to Geneva by the coalition forces.”
The group was to travel to the conference in a plane provided by neighboring Oman. They said they asked the United Nations for assurances that they would not have to stop in Djibouti to be inspected by the Saudis, who have controlled Yemeni airspace since 2015.
Martin Griffiths announced plans to travel to the Arabian Peninsula to revive peace talks. He hopes to meet with Houthi leaders in Muscat, Oman and in Sana’a.
The civil war devastated Yemen’s population, leaving millions facing poverty and hunger. The United Nations estimates that 75 percent of the nation’s 28 million people lack sufficient food and medicine and that 8.4 million are on the brink of starvation.
Griffiths said the beginning of any peace process is “a very delicate, fragile moment.”
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Stijn te Strake