Yemen: Taiz massacre threatens peace talks

Yemen: Taiz massacre threatens peace talks
A deadly rocket attack by Houthis on the Yemeni city of Taiz has sparked outrage, with calls to scrap peace talks, as Prime Minister Bahah reveals differences with President Hadi
3 min read
22 October, 2015

The massacre perpetrated by the Houthis in the city of Taiz in southern Yemen is threatening to blow up the efforts for a UN-sponsored political settlement of the Yemeni conflict.

Around 23 were killed and 92 others were injured after rockets were launched by Houthi and pro-Saleh rebels at residential districts of Taiz, according to medical sources who spoke to al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Many Yemenis reacted angrily, calling for the dialogue with the Houthi rebels to be halted and for military efforts to liberate the city to be accelerated.

In a statement, the Resistance Coordinating Council called on the legitimate government it supports to refuse any dialogue with the militias, calling the attack a crime of "genocide and revenge" for which the rebels should be tried and punished.

The pro-Hadi Military Council in Taiz made similar calls to end the negotiations, which the government had agreed to resume.

"Dialogue and negotiations with militia leaders would now be an unforgivable crime."

-Aref Abu Hatem

Several Yemeni civil society groups also called on the government to end dialogue with the Houthis in the aftermath of the Taiz attacks, and quickly end the siege of the city.

Online, Yemeni activists launched social media campaigns objecting to dialogue "with the killers," calling for an end to the Geneva 2 process.

Aref Abu Hatem, writer and political analyst, said: "We must raise our voice after the Taiz massacre...dialogue and negotiations with militia leaders would now be an unforgivable crime."

Saad al-Sawai, activist, echoed Abu Hatem's view, writing: "Dialogue with militia leaders after what happened is betrayal of the blood that has been spilt."

Meanwhile, sources in the United Nations office in Sanaa told al-Araby al-Jadeed that several obstacles have made it difficult to convene a meeting in Geneva at the end of October, with many throny issues still waiting to be resolved before launching the peace talks.

The sources said the Geneva 2 conference has now been postponed for several weeks, to allow time to reach certain understandings prior to the talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels.

Yemen's prime minister reveals differences with President Hadi

Perhaps for the first time publicly, Yemeni Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah has aknowledged differences with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and called for overcoming them.

Disputes between the Yemeni prime minister and President Hadi recently came out in the open, including on social media

Bahah, in a meeting with members of the advisory commission of the Riyadh Dialogue Conference, said: "The government and the presidency stand as one, but some parties are trying to worsen [existing] differences."

Bahah, according to remarks carried by official news agencies, said there is no room for "mistakes" in the current stage.

Bahah stressed that there is no room for favoritism and unilateral action by individuals either, calling on everyone, from the "top of the pyramid to low-ranking civil servants" to work in accordance to the constitution, in a thinly veiled refernece to President Hadi.

The disputes between the Yemeni prime minister and President Hadi recently came out in the open, including on social media, where supporters of the two men have exchanged sharp accusations.

In the past few days, activists circulated the text of a decision by the prime minister cancelling all diplomatic appointments issued by the acting Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin, who is close to President Hadi.

The appointment of Yassin himself is an issue of contention between Hadi and Bahah, who wants the previous foreign minister to be reinstated.