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Yemen's rebels optimistic after Saudi Arabia peace talks

September 20, 2023

The five-day negotiations in Riyadh marked the latest hopeful sign since Yemen's devastating war began in 2014.

A Houthi security personnel stands in an airport in Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia hails the peace negotiations with Houthis held in RiyadhImage: AFP via Getty Images

A delegation of Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis returned to Sanaa on Tuesday after five days of talks in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh on Wednesday praised the "positive results" of the negotiations with the rebels without releasing many details on the discussions to end the war tearing Yemen apart.

The mediation was the latest hopeful sign since the Riyadh-led coalition in 2015 launched a military invasion in Yemen.

Saudis meet Houthi rebels over Yemen truce

Saudi Arabia hails the negotiations

Among the rebels' demands were the payment of salaries for Houthi appointed civil servants, the release of Houthi prisoners and the launch of new routes from the airport in Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement welcoming the "positive result of the serious discussions regarding reaching a road map to support the peace path in Yemen."

The Houthi delegation also met Saudi Arabia's defense minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"I emphasized the kingdom's support for Yemen and reaffirmed our commitment to promoting dialogue among all parties to reach a comprehensive political solution under UN supervision," Prince Khalid said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Ali al-Qhoom, a member of the Houthi political council said that the talks were "serious and positive."

He elaborated on X that "there will be a renewed round of negotiations" but did not mention any concrete achievements that came out of the meeting.

A prolonged conflict

Yemen plunged into conflict when the Houthis took over the capital in September 2014, ousting the internationally recognized government and prompting the Saudi-led coalition to launch its offensive.

The brutal conflict has been widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The war has killed more than 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, and created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters, killing tens of thousands more.

DocFilm - Yemen’s Dirty War

However, active hostilities have reduced considerably in the past 18 months.

A UN-brokered ceasefire is largely maintaining relative peace despite officially expiring in October, and the warring parties have made tentative steps towards peace.

Saudi Arabia has been increasingly open about the wish to exit the costly war.Meanwhile, United Nations experts have accused all parties to the Yemen conflict of comitting war crimes.

ns/jcg (AP, AFP)