SANA’A, YEMEN — Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of Ansar Allah’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee, welcomed U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ recent remarks urging an end to the three-year-long Saudi-led war in Yemen. In a tweet, Al-Houthi urged Mattis to announce an immediate end to the war, as well as to the Saudi coalition’s blockade that has triggered a famine in the world’s poorest nation.
Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthis) and its allies have been receptive to previous initiatives to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians. Al-Houthi stressed on Wednesday that any initiative would be welcomed so long as it does not undermine Yemen’s independence and sovereignty.
Dr. Yaser al-Houri, Secretary of the Supreme Political Council, the highest political authority in Sana’a, told MintPress:
We welcome any call for peace that will end the war and we will deal responsibly with any future peace talks under the umbrella of the United Nations.”
United Nations Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths called on Wednesday for all concerned parties to engage constructively with UN efforts to resume political consultations and to agree on a framework for political negotiations. The United Nations says it hopes to resume Yemen peace talks within a month. The War on Terror: The... Best Price: $14.24 Buy New $14.99 (as of 09:35 EDT - Details)
The UN call comes a day after Mattis’ urgent call. Mattis said, during a discussion on Tuesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were ready for talks:
We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it sometime in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days.”
France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly also called for an end to the war in Yemen on Tuesday, saying:
It is more than time that this war ended and it is also important — even France’s priority — that the humanitarian situation must improve and that humanitarian aid can get through.”
Numerous previous negotiations between Yemen’s Ansar Allah and the Saudi coalition, backed by the United States and other Western powers, have broken down, but the new announcement is giving hope to Yemenis that the United States will pressure its Gulf Arab allies to agree to halt their deadly campaign of airstrikes in Yemen, which often target civilians.
As US calls for peace, Saudi Coalition sends thousands of fighters to Hodeida
Although Mattis’ call was later echoed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that the time is now for the cessation of hostilities, the Saudi coalition sent 10,000 new troops, mostly Sudanese mercenaries, to Yemen’s Red Sea coast, ahead of a new offensive on Hodeida expected to take place in coming days.
A source inside of Yemen’s Houthi-aligned military told MintPress that recent statements could be a prelude to a new escalation in Hodeida, confirming that the military has intelligence from the field that the coalition is preparing a massive offensive in a bid to finally seize control of the port of Hodeida within next 30 days.
Houthi officials have reacted to Washington’s newly expressed urgings with careful optimism, welcoming the prospect for peace, but wary of an ulterior motive for the sudden shift in U.S. policy.
Mohammed al-Bakhiiti, a member of Ansar Allah’s Political Council, commented on the recent statements by U.S. officials, saying “peace would return to Yemen if the U.S. ended its war on the country,” adding, “the only solution to the crisis is intra-Yemeni talks and non-interference by foreign parties.”
Yemen’s Foreign Minister, Hesham Sharef in Sanaa, stressed that the fact that the U.S. expressed desire for a political resolution through its Pentagon chief confirms that Washington views Yemen from a military perspective: “There would have been no war in Yemen had not there been U.S. and British support for Saudi Arabia.”
Commenting on a potential U.S. role in resolving the conflict in Yemen, a high-ranking source of the Houthis told MintPress, “Washington could not play the role of mediator while it is a party involved in the military campaign against the country.”
Houthis reject the prospect of balkanization
The U.S. has expressed a desire to rely upon the often practiced and rarely successful strategy of breaking a nation into multiple enclaves based on ethnicity and political affiliation. The process, known as balkanization, has been implemented with disastrous results in Syria, Sudan and elsewhere.
Mattis said on Tuesday that he wants a political resolution in Yemen to include a clause that will give local autonomy to the Houthis, but many Yemeni parties, including Ansar Allah, described the remarks as an intervention and a violation of Yemen’s sovereignty.
Abdulmalik Al-Ajri, who is close to Ansar Allah’s leader and is a member of the Political Bureau of the movement, responded to Mattis: “We [Houthis] as part of the national makeup of the Yemeni People are present in most areas of Yemen,” adding, “Mattis’ point of view does not represent the vision of Ansar Allah or any other political forces.”
Yemen’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Ansar Allah, based in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, also criticized remarks by Mattis about the need for the establishment of a semi-autonomous region in Yemen, saying Washington’s proposed solution for Yemen included dividing the country.
The question of ballistic missiles
In his recent comments, Mattis also made statements implying a need to destroy Yemen’s domestic ballistic missile program and demilitarize the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, a move strongly rejected by Yemen’s resistance. A Century of War: Linc... Best Price: $4.59 Buy New $11.25 (as of 07:00 EDT - Details)
Responding to Mattis’ statements, Yemen’s foreign minister said that Yemenis are defending their motherland and will not allow their sovereignty to be undermined in any way, adding:
Our missiles are meant to safeguard Yemen’s security. We did not attack anyone prior to the onset of the Saudi-led military aggression.”
The official spokesman of Ansar Allah, Mohammed Abdul Salam, confirmed in July that Yemen’s domestic weapons arsenal, the quality and sophistication of which continue to grow, is needed for deterrence, including ballistic missiles. He went on to say that they are the property of the Yemeni people and, upon reaching a political settlement, will return to an army representing all Yemenis.
High-ranking officials in the Houthi movement told MintPress that should a political settlement be reached, these weapons will be exclusive to a national army representing all Yemenis. Yemen’s officials and citizens alike consider the domestic missile program a vital component of national defense against the Saudi coalition, which is equipped with the latest high-tech, U.S.-supplied weapons.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.
Reprinted with permission from Mint Press News.