The UN envoy has arrived in Yemen for talks with government leaders and Shiite rebels ahead of scheduled peace talks in Geneva. More than 5,700 people have been killed since a Saudi-led air campaign began in March.
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Aden on Saturday for talks with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who, with the help of Gulf Arab air power, has been waging a war against Iran-backed Houthi forces in the capital Sanaa and the nearby province of al Dhalea.
Previous UN-led efforts to end the conflict through dialogue have failed as battles rage across the country and Saudi-led warplanes bomb positions in operations criticized by the UN as indiscriminate and needlessly destructive.
Difficult road to Geneva
Mistrust runs deep between Yemen’s warring parties, with the Houthis believing the government wants to take back power by force and Hadi officials saying that the Houthis are refusing to withdraw from main cities as required by a UN Security Council Resolution passed in March.
It is the first time that the UN envoy has paid an official visit to Aden, which Hadi declared the temporary capital after Arab coalition forces seized it from the Houthis in July.
A UN source told the Reuters news agency that UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s talks with Hadi are desiged to lay the groundwork for a second round of talks in the Swiss city of Geneva slated for December 12.
The Iran-backed Houthi group swept Hadi from power in February as part of what it called a revolution against corruption. It has accused Hadi of being beholden to Saudi Arabia and western powers, including the United States.
jar/jlw (Reuters, AFP)