Four billion dollars have disappeared from Yemen’s Central Bank in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa and the country is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, its foreign minister told reporters.
Foreign Mininster Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi did not accuse any side and gave no further details.
His announcement is a bad omen for Yemen, where a conflict between its internationally-recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi militias has caused a major humanitarian crisis in the country. On top of that, Yemen is already considered to be the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula.
Mekhlafi also reiterated the Yemeni’s government stance regarding its suspension of peace talks with the Houthis in Kuwait when he said the latter backtracked on their commitments after a month of negotiations.
Yemen’s government suspended its participation in talks with the Houthis Tuesday for the second time this month, Mekhlafi said earlier, in a new setback to the UN-backed peace process.
“I have asked the UN envoy not to allow the rebels to waste any more time ... and to make them comply with the reference issues before we resume the talks,” said Mikhlafi, who heads the government delegation.
The two delegations were on the verge of finalizing a deal to release half of the detainees and prisoners before the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in early June.
The talks are aimed at an agreement that would allow the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to evacuate cities they control in northern Yemen and for the formation of a new, more representative government.
The United Nations estimates that more than 6,400 people have been killed and 2.8 million displaced in Yemen since March last year.
Not only a looming bankruptcy but concerns about militants is also stifling Yemen.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing last week that killed eight people and wounded a senior army commander in the eastern part of the country in an internet posting on Tuesday.
Khaled Batarfi, an al Qaeda leader who was freed from prison last year when Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized Mukalla, also criticised the United Arab Emirates over its role in freeing the Hadramout provincial capital from the militants.
General Abdul-Rahman al-Halili, commander of Yemen’s First Military Region which has its headquarters in the city of Seyoun, was wounded last week when a suicide bomber targeted his convoy while he was on a trip to inspect his forces in the Wad Hadramout area.
(With Reuters, AFP)