Yemen talks set to start in Sweden after wounded Houthis evacuated

December 3, 2018

ADEN/DUBAI: Yemeni Houthi officials are expected to travel to Sweden shortly for talks as early as Wednesday to end the nearly four-year-old war after the Saudi-led coalition allowed the evacuation of some of their wounded for treatment. Prospects for convening talks have risen as Western allies press Saudi Arabia, leader of the Sunni Muslim alliance battling the Iranian-aligned Houthis, over a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths arrived in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa on Monday to escort the Houthi delegation, a U.N. source told Reuters. The Saudi-backed government has said it would follow the Houthis to the talks, the first since 2016.
The peace talks may start on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the matter said. Griffiths shuttled between the parties to salvage a previous round that collapsed in September after the Houthis failed to show up.
Western powers, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, may now have greater leverage to demand action on Yemen after outrage over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul led to increased scrutiny of the kingdom’s activities in the region.
The U.S. Senate is due to consider this week a resolution to end support for the conflict, seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its arch-foe in the Middle East, Iran.
A Houthi official told Reuters that their delegation could travel on Monday night or Tuesday morning. In addition to the evacuation of their wounded, the group had asked to travel on a plane not inspected by the Saudi-led coalition. Reuters