Yemen President Rejects U.N. Talks with Iran-Linked Houthis

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow
AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is in self-exile in Saudi Arabia, backed out of United Nations-brokered talks this week with Iran-linked Houthi rebels, according to the leader’s office.

The Houthis control the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and much of the country’s north.

A recently leaked U.N. email obtained by VICE News revealed that the Houthis and their allies are willing to accept a U.N. resolution to end the conflict in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia appears unwilling to support a negotiated settlement.

In a statement, President Hadi’s office indicated that “there would be no talks with the rebels, known as Houthis, unless they accept a U.N. resolution that obliges them to withdraw from areas they seized and surrender weapons taken from state institutions,” reports The Associated Press (AP).

The statement came as Hadi’s government is preparing to return to the southern port city of Aden at the end of this month following the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, AP learned from two unnamed senior Yemeni government officials.

“More than 200 Saudi, Emirati and Yemeni troops have come to Aden in the past two weeks to help secure the city and pave the way for the government’s long-planned return, according to Aden’s governor and pro-government security officials,” notes the article.

“Many Yemeni troops who were sent for training in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are returning to fight, pro-government officials said, reflecting the administration’s confidence that it can hold on to the key city that has been bitterly contested by the various sides in the conflict,” it continues. “Parts of Aden are controlled by al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate.”

Earlier this year, Yemen’s internationally recognized president fled to Saudi Arabia, which has been leading a U.S.-backed coalition against the Houthis since March.

The Houthis have allied themselves with security forces loyal to Yemen’s  former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

More than 4,000 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.

“A leaked email written by the UN’s envoy for Yemen has cast new light on negotiations to end the country’s brutal war, and raises questions about the growing presence of al Qaeda, as well as the dedication to UN-brokered talks by Saudi Arabia, whose multinational coalition has bombed Houthi rebels and their allies since late March,” reported VICE News last week.

The email was written by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the U.N.’s envoy for Yemen, to Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N.’s undersecretary for political affairs.

“In it, the envoy confirms that Houthi rebels and the party of former president and Houthi ally Ali Abdullah Saleh have expressed willingness to accept — with some reservations — a UN Security Council resolution, approved in April,” noted VICE News.