The Houthi delegation left the Yemeni capital Sanaa for Sweden on Tuesday afternoon for UN-sponsored peace talks, the first since 2016, amid pressure from Western countries to end the conflict in the country. Yemen.
UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, who arrived in Sana’a on Monday, is accompanying the Shiite militia delegation aboard the plane, which was provided by the Kuwaiti government.
A coalition of Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, has been intervening since March 2015 in the Yemeni conflict against the Houthi militiamen in an attempt to restore to power the government of President Abd-Rabbou Mansour Hadi, recognized by the international community.
The Hadi government should also send a delegation to Sweden.
Previous talks, which should have been held in Geneva in September, had come to a halt after three days as the Houthi delegation failed to appear.
Belligerents are expected to gather around the table on Wednesday in Sweden to discuss measures to restore confidence and the establishment of a transitional government. Shiite Iran, which supports the Houthis, said it supports peace talks.
As for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they said Tuesday through their Foreign Minister, Anwar Gargach, that the talks in Sweden represented a “crucial opportunity”.
HELP TO SUPPORT THE RIAL
The Swedish Foreign Ministry has not yet announced where the talks will be held, which will focus on the reopening of the Sana’a airport and an exchange of prisoners, as well as on the establishment of a truce in the port city of Hodeida, through which external aid passes for millions of Yemenis.
The worldwide outcry over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has shone the spotlight on Ryad’s operations in the region. This affair gives Western powers, who provide weapons and intelligence to the coalition, more leverage to obtain concessions from Ryad.
Germany, Denmark and Sweden have suspended arms exports to Saudi Arabia because of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the Yemeni conflict. The United States has stopped supplying combat aircraft to the Arab coalition.
The Yemeni conflict, which in 2016 had already claimed more than 10,000 lives, now places more than eight million Yemenis on the verge of starvation, and the United Nations warned that the figure could rise to 14 million. Three-quarters of the population, 22 million people, depend on aid.
Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said on Tuesday that the Yemeni government would need billions of dollars in aid to finance its 2019 budget and avoid a further collapse of the national currency, the rial, in addition of the four billion dollars (3.5 billion euros) that, according to the UN, are necessary for the actual aid to the Yemeni population.
Yemen’s oil revenues, the state’s main source of revenue, have dropped by 85 percent, now amounting to only two billion dollars (1.75 billion euros).