Griffiths: No alternative to a negotiated solution in Yemen

UN Special Envoy to Yemen warns situation is exceptionally vulnerable to renewed violence in Hodeidah as Yemeni FM calls on UN to take clear position towards Huthi rebels’ latest escalation in port city.

AMMAN - UNITED NATIONS Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said that peace in the war-torn country will only happen through a negotiated solution, calling on all warring sides to make compromises.

“This conflict has already claimed too many victims, and it threatens the collapse of the state and the disintegration of the social fabric. And every day that we together lose translates into immeasurable more effort, time and resources that will be required to rebuild the institutions and infrastructure necessary for a return to civility and a dignified life for the people of Yemen,” said Griffiths at a two-day consultative meeting with Yemeni public and political figures in Amman.

 An escalation of violence in Yemen since the start of the year has shattered more than three months of calm in the five-year-old conflict, widely seen as proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its regional foe Iran.

Saudi Arabia has been holding informal talks with the Iran-backed Huthi rebels since late September about de-escalation. Riyadh had significantly reduced its air strikes in Yemen and the Huthis had halted missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

But violence resumed on northern frontlines in January and led to renewed Huthi missile strikes, the first since attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September knocked out more than half its crude output. The Saudi-led coalition resumed retaliatory bombings.

Griffiths said that frontlines which had been quiet for several months have been drawn into the escalation and reports of airstrikes and cross-border aerial attacks have increased considerably.

He raised deep concerns about the escalations in east of Sanaa which he said may threaten progress, limited though as may be in Hodeidah, where the situation is exceptionally vulnerable to renewed violence.

The Yemeni government urged Monday the UN to take a clear position against Huthi rebels’ latest escalation in the port of Hodeidah.

“We call on the UN envoy to take a clear position towards Huthis' continuous escalation and declare efforts for implementing the Stockholm agreement concerning the Huthi militias’ withdrawal from the city and its ports,” said Yemen's Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani.

Yemeni military sources said that Huthi rebels violated the truce some 3,000 times, killing 24 civilians and wounding more than 60 others in just one month.

Since January 2019, Amman has witnessed several meetings between representatives of the Yemeni government and the Huthi rebels, the last of which was in the middle of this month, when the two parties agreed on a detailed plan to complete the first large-scale exchange of prisoners and detainees since the beginning of the conflict.

“Last week, as you know, the parties came together here in Amman to implement the first official, large-scale exchange of prisoners, a crucial step toward implementing the Stockholm Agreement and intriguingly the meeting that was held last week was twelve months, a full twelve months later since the one took place before, so the progress on that file have not been rapid,” said the UN envoy.

Iryani stressed Wednesday the importance of making tangible progress in implementing the Stockholm Agreement during a meeting with Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde in Riyadh.

Linde said that Sweden was committed to keeping its support of the Griffiths’ efforts to end Yemen’s civil war that has displaced hundreds of thousands and left millions of Yemenis facing starvation.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen's civil war in 2015 to try to restore the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbou Mansour Hadi, ousted by the Huthis in Sanaa in 2014.