The expanding military operations by Iran-backed Houthis and their continuing resistance to peace efforts are indications that they are not serious about ending the war, Yemen’s Prime Minister said on Wednesday.
During a meeting with the US special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, in Riyadh, Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed said a peaceful settlement can be reached if the Houthis accepted the current peace efforts and stopped their hostilities across Yemen. He urged the international community to exert more “effective” pressure on the rebels, the official news agency SABA said.
He said the Houthis responded to the Yemeni government’s compliance with peace initiatives and concessions with military escalations in Marib and the other Yemeni cities.
He said he looked forward to seeing “a firm handling of these militias by the international community and the UN,” Maeen said.
He criticized the international community for not shaming the Houthis for obstructing UN experts from visiting FSO Safer, the decaying oil tanker in the Red Sea which could cause a major environmental disaster if it exploded or fell apart.
“The UN has been negotiating with the Houthis over Safer tanker for years with no progress, although we have provided all facilities and accepted all solutions to avoid the imminent and devastating catastrophe.”
SABA reported that the US envoy renewed his government’s support for the Yemeni government and its efforts to put into place the Riyadh Agreement and mitigate the economic impact of the war, and he urged the Houthis to cease their offensive on the city of Marib.
On Tuesday, the US said Lenderking would visit Saudi Arabia where he would meet with Yemeni and Saudi officials and would discuss the impact of the Houthi offensive on Marib, the humanitarian crisis and peace efforts.
The special envoy will address the urgent need for efforts by the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia to stabilize Yemen’s economy and to facilitate the import of fuel to northern Yemen, and the need for the Houthis to end their manipulation of fuel imports and prices inside of Yemen, the State Department said in a statement. It added that the envoy would discuss peace efforts to end the war in Yemen with the office of UN Yemen envoy and international diplomats.
Peace efforts faltered when the Houthis refused to accept a plan brokered by the UN that demanded they halt their offensive on Marib and put into place a nationwide truce in exchange for opening Sanaa airport and lifting restrictions on seaports under their control.
Yemen officials said on Wednesday that the Houthis escalated their drone and missile strikes and ground assaults in the provinces of Marib, Al-Bayda, Shabwa and Lahj.
Local media reports said that nine government soldiers were killed when a missile fired by the Houthis hit their military post in Bayhan district in the southern province of Shabwa.
Heavy clashes were reported on Wednesday in the central province of Marib as the Houthis pressed ahead with their offensive to seize control of the city of Marib. The Houthis also attacked government forces in Lahj and Al-Bayda provinces.