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Houthi leaders fly to Saudi Arabia for first Hajj since 2015

Houthi leaders head to Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage for first time since 2015
2 min read
20 June, 2023
For the first time since war broke out between the two sides, leaders from Yemen's Houthi rebel group headed to Mecca for the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage.
A first group of Yemenis flew to Jeddah last week to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage [Getty]

A delegation of prominent Houthi leaders travelled to Saudi Arabia on Monday to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage, the first visit of its kind since the Yemen war broke out in 2015.

The Houthi leaders departed from the airport in Yemen’s capital Sanaa – which they captured from the internationally recognized Yemeni government in 2014 – for the Saudi city of Jeddah, from where they will travel to Mecca for the annual Islamic pilgrimage.

The delegation was sent by the Houthi militia’s Ministry of Guidance and Hajj and Umrah Affairs, the Houthi-run SabaNet news site reported. It included the Houthis' deputy guidance minister Fouad Naji and General Yahya Ruzami, the head of the Houthis' military negotiation committee.

The delegation's departure was the latest sign of progress in talks between the Houthis and Riyadh. The Iran-backed rebel group has fought Saudi-led forces supporting the internationally-recognised Yemeni government for eight years.

The Houthi delegation travelled as part of a second group of Yemenis undertaking the HAjj.

Hajj, which takes place around the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday, is due to start on the evening of 26 June and ends on 1 July.

The years-long fighting in Yemen has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.

But a China-brokered deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March has calmed tensions in Yemen.

A Saudi delegation visited Sanaa in April for peace talks with the Houthi group and Iran reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia earlier this month