Yemen ‘Not Interested’ in John Kerry’s Peace Deal

FILE -- In this Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016 file photo, tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels hold their weapons as they chant slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts in several Yemeni cities, in Sanaa, Yemen. Yemen's civil war is threatening to further entangle the United States …
AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File

On Tuesday, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi snubbed Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal in unusually brusque terms.

“The government was not aware of nor is it interested in what Secretary Kerry announced, which represents a desire to scuttle peace efforts by trying to reach an agreement with the Houthis apart from the government,” said Mekhlafi, who delivered the snub on Twitter, as reported by Reuters.

“I believe the current U.S. administration is incapable of providing any guarantees to any party and what Kerry has said is no more than a media bubble at our people’s expense,” he added in a televised interview with Al-Jazeera.

This came after Kerry’s announcement on Tuesday that Yemen’s Houthi insurgents and the coalition led by Saudi Arabia had agreed to a ceasefire.

“Kerry, in what could be his last trip to the Gulf before Obama’s term ends in January, is seeking a breakthrough to end the fighting between the Houthis, allied to Iran, and the Saudi-backed government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi,” Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Kerry held the talks in Oman, which has a relationship with the Houthis, and said both the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates have “agreed to try to move forward with this.”

The ceasefire plan is described as similar to the one implemented between April and August of this year. The new ceasefire is scheduled to begin on Thursday, to be followed by a resumption of peace talks at the end of November. The lengthier peace deal proposed by U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed would involve the Houthis withdrawing from some captured territory, in exchange for a role in a new Yemeni unity government.

Gulf News reports the Houthis expressed solid interest in taking the deal, after years of fighting and over 10,000 casualties, plus 3 million displaced refugees.

There have been reports that Yemen’s government is studying the peace plan and may soften its opposition in the coming days, although President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has resisted any deal that involves him relinquishing his office.

CBS News notes that some human-rights activists have been accusing the United States of complicity in war crimes perpetrated by the Saudi coalition, particularly the indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas. The Saudi coalition has blamed civilian deaths on “the fog of war,” and U.S. officials have said they have no input on where airstrikes in Yemen are conducted.