Houthis blow up delegate’s home, casting shadow over Geneva talks
SANAA/GENEVA – Houthi fighters in central Yemen blew up the home of a senior politician on Wednesday while he was in Switzerland as a member of the exiled government’s delegation to peace talks, residents said.
The destruction of member of parliament Abdel-Aziz Jubari’s house in Dhamar city coincided with more air strikes by Saudi-led forces on military targets throughout Yemen in support of the government.
In Geneva, the UN-sponsored talks between the warring factions went into a second day. A delegate said on Tuesday the parties had agreed on the need for a ceasefire but others said a deal was still far off.
Jubari, who is deputy head of the delegation sent to Geneva by ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said he was shocked when he heard the news.
“This is regrettable that people’s manners and behaviors can reach this point,” Jubari told Reuters in Geneva.
“Of course my house is not the only house in Yemen…a lot of people’s homes and properties have been targeted in an unbelievable way.”
Foreign Minister Reyad Yassin Abdulla, the head of the government delegation said: “It is in this spirit of revenge that they are dealing with all the Yemeni people and we cannot remain silent on this.”
Houthi officials were not immediately available to comment.
The Houthis seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September and pressed into the country’s center and south, forcing Hadi and his government into exile in Riyadh.
They say they are campaigning against corruption and ending what they say is years of political marginalization.
A coalition of Arab states headed by Saudi Arabia has been bombing the Iran-allied Houthis — who hail from the Zaydi sect of Shi’ite Islam — and their allies in Yemen’s army since March 26.
Their aim is to restore Hadi to power and head off what they see as Shi’ite Iran’s expansion in the region. The Houthis deny receiving military backing from Iran.
The latest air raids by the Saudi-led alliance focused on army bases in Sanaa and Houthi targets in Yemen’s central desert and the mountainous province of Mahweet, one of the last provinces in Yemen not to be bombed since the campaign began.
More than 2,600 civilians and combatants have been killed since March and a humanitarian crisis is looming as supplies of food, medicine and other goods run short.
CEASEFIRE CHANCES DAMPENED
In Geneva, the U.N’s special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has been conducting shuttle diplomacy trying to bridge differences.
Abdulla played down the prospects of a quick agreement on a ceasefire, saying his delegation remained focused on implementing a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding the Houthis quit cities they seized in September and subsequent weeks.
He said that while everyone sought a ceasefire, he did not want one merely “for the sake of publicity”.
“There is work on the ground that needs to be implemented so it can be a real truce, not just words that mess with people’s emotions,”he said.
In a speech on Tuesday, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, held out hope for a resolution but accused his Yemeni opponents of seeking to advance Saudi Arabia’s agenda.
“There is nothing hindering a political solution in the country; the solution is available, but they (Saudis) are the ones who ruin it with their aggression,” he said.
Hadi and the allied Arab states have demanded the Houthis comply with a UN Security Council Resolution in April calling on the group to quit Yemen’s main cities. –Reuters