Yemen talks kick off for possible political resolution

Ahmed Eleiba , Saturday 19 Mar 2016

File photo of United Nations envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (L) shakes hands with Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi during a meeting in Yemen's southern port city of Aden December 5, 2015. (Reuters)

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived Saturday in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa after holding a round of talks in Riyadh with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi along with other Saudi and Yemeni officials.

Hadi, who met with Ould Cheikh Friday evening in Riyadh, said that "all doors are open to help reach a comprehensive and lasting peace based on the outcomes of the Gulf Initiative, the National Dialogue Conference and the resolutions of the UN Security Council, especially Resolution 2216."

"The current calm on the ground, despite minor violations, reflects the parties' willingness to reach a settlement," a source close to Hadi told Ahram Online from Riyadh.

The source said that de-escalation on the part of Houthi rebels and the disarming of mines on the Saudi-Yemeni border are evidence that all sides are mulling a compromise.

"The Houthis began to describe Saudi Arabia as the big sister and Ali Abdullah Saleh, on the other hand, predicts that the war is coming to an end," the source said.

Another Yemeni source from Sanaa told Ahram Online that the UN special envoy is expected to receive an outline of Saleh's vision of the political settlement, which is set to be discussed in Muscat within a few days.  

Ould Cheikh's visit is considered the first of its kind following Saudi-Houthi talks that took place in the Saudi city of Abha last week. 


After primarily being behind the scenes, talks have been put on a more official track.

Many sources that will participate in the negotiations say it is too early to set a timeframe for the talks. However, there is no disagreement on the direction of the parties towards a settlement.

There is also no disparity on stepping back from a battle over Sanaa, or alleviating the impact of war elsewhere in Yemen.

Negotiations are expected to halt the political conflict between the former regime and the post-February revolution regime.

Hadi's comments following the visit by Ould Cheikh were considered a call for peace.

Sources close to Hadi say that he does not fear Saleh and Houthi inclusion in the political process on Yemen's future, while underlining the importance of govenmental legitimacy. Saleh's bloc, meanwhile, is expected to expand its role in Yemen's future through the negotiations. 

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