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Saudi Arabia says Houthis will not be allowed to take over Yemen

UN-sponsored talks to try to end 18 months of fighting collapsed in failure this month as militia forces stepped up border attacks

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday the Iranian-allied Houthi militias will not be allowed to take over Yemen, as he accused Iran of seeking to sow unrest around the region.

The head of a Houthi-backed ruling council pledged readiness on Monday to resume negotiations on ending Yemen’s war but reserved the right to resist attacks by the Saudi-backed internationally recognized government.

UN-sponsored talks to try to end 18 months of fighting collapsed in failure this month and the Houthi militias and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh resumed shelling into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The talks foundered after the Houthis and Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) announced the formation of the 10-member governing council on Aug 6., ignoring a warning by UN Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed that such a move would violate UN Security Council resolutions on how to solve the conflict.

Speaking to Reuters in Beijing, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the ball was in the Houthis’ court as to whether peace talks resumed.

“What is certain, not questionable, certain, they will not be allowed to take over Yemen. Period. So the legitimate government will be defended,” al-Jubeir said.

“The chance they have is to enter the political process, reach an agreement ... for the benefit of all Yemenis including the Houthis,” he said.

Speaking earlier to students at a Beijing university, al-Jubeir lambasted Iran.

“We see Iran supporting Houthis in Yemen and trying to take over the government, supply weapons to the Houthis, smuggle explosives to Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We wish we could be as good neighbours like before the 1979 revolution,” al-Jubeir said.

“It’s up to Iran to mend its behaviour.”