The United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths announced the restarting of peace talks, a new scheme would introduce a set of confidence-building measures within a week, including reopening Sana’a airport, prisoner swaps and payment of civil service salaries.
The talks in Geneva would have been the first between the two sides for two years, but the Houthis refused to travel from Yemen after seeking assurances about the safe passage of some of its wounded soldiers. However, in the wake of the collapse of the Geneva talks, the UAE announced plans to restart the military action and informed the UN Security Council.
“The Houthis would not have engaged with the special envoy unless there was a fear of losing access to the Red Sea along with the supply of weapons and funds that sustain them. The capture of Hodeida is critical to re-engaging the Houthis in peace talks,”
UAE wrote in its letter on Sep 15.
Aid agencies in New York urged the Gulf states not to press ahead with plans to besiege the city or to cut off the aid supply, including to the Houthi-held capital, Sana’a. The UK, which advises Saudi Arabia on military and political strategy, says it has been calling for restraint.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said a fund set aside to rebuild Yemen would be doubled to $20bn due to the scale of the conflict. He said Saudi Arabia had lost “the communications battle at the beginning of the war and that is why our reputation has taken a big hit”.
Griffiths said he was optimistic that overlapping steps could be agreed by Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates and that backs the UN-recognised government of Yemen.