Yemen peace talks 'torpedoed' after Houthis seize military base

Yemen peace talks 'torpedoed' after Houthis seize military base
2 min read
01 May, 2016
Yemen's government delegation suspended their participation in the peace talks with the Houthi rebels as they seized a military base north of the capital, a move seen as an escalation.
Yemen's UN envoy Ahmed said there were some grave violations to the ceasefire [AFP]

Yemen's government delegation have suspended their participation in peace talks after Houthi rebels seized a military base north of Sanaa on Sunday, senior sources said.

"The suspension of participation followed a series of breaches across the country and most recently the seizure of a military base in Amran," the source told The New Arab.

The assault on the military base north of the capital, which left several soldiers dead, shows the rebels' true intentions, the source added.

Yemen's foreign minister and the government's top delegate to the peace talks in Kuwait said the move had "torpedoed" the UN-led negotiations with the Houthis.

"We will take the appropriate position in response to the Houthi crime at Umaliqa base in Amran for the sake of our people and country," Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said.

Prior to the escalation, peace negotiations had been progressing on track.

Prior to the escalation, peace negotiations had been progressing on track

The UN envoy had described the talks on Saturday between Yemen's warring parties as "productive" and "encouraging."

"The talks today were positive and productive... It is an encouraging beginning," Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

"We heard the parties pledge total commitment to [UN Security Council] Resolution 2216 and related decisions, the Gulf initiative and results of Yemeni national dialogue as the basis for a peaceful solution," Ahmed added.

The talks come after the government and rebel delegations each submitted a framework for a political and security solution to end the 13-month war.

The UN envoy said although there has been an improvement in firming up the ceasefire that went into effect on April 11, some "grave violations" remain, especially in the besieged city of Taez.

The Saudi-led coalition had only suspended airstrikes in the past four to five days, Ahmed added.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia handed over 40 Houthi prisoners as part of an agreement with the Houthis to quell border fighting.

"We received 40 prisoners, 20 of those were captured inside Yemen," Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam confirmed.

More than 6,800 people have been killed and around 2.8 million displaced in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition began operations in March 2015 against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who seized swathes of territory including the capital Sanaa.