The United Nation’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has expressed confidence over Yemen peace talks in Geneva tomorrow, despite the Houthi delegation’s delay in arriving one day late.
Griffiths said all representatives will arrive for Friday’s sponsored negotiations to assist ending the three-year war that has killed over 15,000 civilians.
According to the Houthi group they were unable to “secure authorisation” from the Saudi-led coalition for a plane to transport its delegation and wounded fighters out of Sana’a airport.
— Hussain Albukhaiti (@HussainBukhaiti) September 5, 2018
The UN “made promises on facilitating the transport of the wounded… abroad,” but the Saudi-led coalition was not on the same page. Despite the delay, Griffiths said: “We are working at it. I think this issue will sort itself out. Yemen talks have always had a delay to begin. We are going to make it happen”.
The peace talks will be the first in two years, although chances of securing an end to war are at best slim. The last round of peace talks was in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations failed to broker a power-sharing agreement for Yemen.
Not a negotiation, a process
“It has been a process in Yemen. This is an opportunity for that page to be turned. We are talking about consultations – this is not a negotiation – this a process. We want to understand the issues of both parties,” Griffiths said.
Back in June, Reuters were given a draft UN peace plan which calls on the Houthis to give up their ballistic missiles in return for an end to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies, including the United Arab Emirates, launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains. The group had taken control of the capital, Sanaa, and large swathes of the country forcing the internationally-backed government into exile.
Yesterday, the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) were disinvited to Geneva after the internationally recognised President of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, lobbied Griffiths to reject any presence of the STC at the negotiation table.
Saudi Arabia’s air defence system intercepted some ballistic missiles yesterday heading towards the southern city of Najran. Some 26 Saudi nationals were injured with shrapnel, according to the Saudi civil defence. Whether the missiles towards Najran were connected to the plane transfer authorisation to Geneva is yet to be revealed by the Houthis.