Skepticism surrounds Houthi calls for dialogue

An expert on the Yemeni conflict was skeptical of the militias' supposed call for dialogue

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Yemen’s Houthi militias are ready to sit down for peace talks as long as a Saudi coalition-led air strikes are halted and the negotiations are overseen by “non-aggressive” parties, a senior Houthi member said on Sunday, yet an expert interviewed Al Arabiya News channel expressed skepticism.

A former adviser to President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh al-Sammad, told Reuters news agency that Yemenis reject the return of Hadi, who took refuge in neighboring Saudi Arabia after Shiite Houthi fighters closed in on his southern stronghold of Aden late last month.

“We still stand by our position on dialogue and we demand its continuation despite everything that has happened, on the basis of respect and acknowledging the other,” Sammad said.

“We have no conditions except a halt to the aggression and sitting on the dialogue table within a specific time period ... and any international or regional parties that have no aggressive positions towards the Yemeni people can oversee the dialogue,” Sammad said, without specifying who they might be.

Sammad added that he wanted the dialogue sessions aired to the Yemeni people “so that they can know who is the obstructer”.

However, an expert on the Yemeni conflict interviewed by Al Arabiya News Channel on Sunday was skeptical of the call for dialogue.

Ali al-Zukaimi, a Yemeni journalist and analyst said: “That this could either be a sign that the Houthi militias are beginning to collapse and are looking for a way out or that they are trying to maneuver and win time and sympathy but most likely, they are collapsing.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was quoted as saying on Monday that the kingdom was also ready for a political meeting of Yemeni parties, under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Five out of the six GCC member states are part of the military coalition bombing which is bombing the Houthis.

Houthi fighters seized the capital Sanaa six months ago and last month launched an offensive on the south, backed by army units loyal to deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

That prompted Saudi Arabia to launch a campaign of air strikes on March 26 alongside regional Arab allies.

(With Reuters)

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