Middle East

UN to relaunch Yemen peace talks plan within two months

New UN peace envoy to Yemen says new framework will only deliver peace if fighting is brought to an end.

    The United Nations’ new envoy for Yemen has said he plans to unveil a new plan to end the conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country within two months.

    Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that he would develop a new framework to re-launch negotiations between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels, but warned that fighting on the ground was still fierce.

    “My plan is to put to the council within the next two months a framework for negotiations,” he said.

    Griffiths cited the firing of ballistic missiles against Saudi Arabia, intensified military operations in northwestern Saada governorate, ongoing air raids and movements of forces in the Hudaida region as worrisome developments.

    “Our concern is that any of these developments may, in a stroke, take peace off the table. I am convinced that there is a real danger of this,” Griffiths said in reference to the ballistic missile attacks by the Houthis.

    Last week, Saudi Arabia said it shot down a ballistic missile in Riyadh and two unmanned drones in the southern Asir and Jizan provinces.

    The Saudi-led coalition warned on Monday against renewed attacks on Saudi Arabia, saying it would inflict a “painful” response if these were not brought to an end.

    Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from New York, said the crucial element in Griffiths’ peace plan and for political dialogue to take place is an end to hostilities.

    “The key issue is that the conflict ceases, the ongoing violence between the Houthi rebels within Yemen and of course the ongoing missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.”

    The war in Yemen has been described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 75 percent of the population, or about 22 million people, in need of aid, while seven million are on the brink of famine.

    Concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states launched a military intervention in 2015 in the form primarily of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstating the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed and at least 40,000 wounded, mostly from Saudi-led air raids.

    In retaliation, the Houthis have launched dozens of missiles at the kingdom. Saudi authorities say over the past three years 90 ballistic missiles have been fired at the kingdom by the rebels.

    Previous rounds of UN-sponsored peace talks have failed to bring an end to hostilities. 

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