Oman to host Yemen peace talks, Houthis agree to join

Oman will be hosting a new round of peace talks over the on-going three year Yemen civil war, Kuna news reported.

Talks between the Houthi armed group and General People’s Congress party (GPC) are planned to take place as soon as the new United Nations Peace Envoy to Yemen is recruited. No other parties to the conflict were named to be part of the coming peace talks in Oman.

The role of the envoy is to “facilitate” negotiations between parties who would then decide if they can go ahead with peace talks, the former UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh said. Ould Cheikh is to step down this month.

Ould Cheikh described the situation in Yemen as “tragic and disastrous”, noting that nearly one million Yemenis are suffering from cholera. The UN has previous commended Oman for its role in helping find a solution to end the conflict.

“Yes, we’re open for negotiations with all parties to the conflict,” Muhammad Al-Bukhaithi, deputy head of the department of external relations of Houthis and member of the group’s political bureau, confirmed to MEMO.

In an interview with MEMO last year in October, Al-Bukhaithi confirmed that Oman “can play a key role in stopping the war if they have the will to play a neutral and frank role with the Saudi regime”.

The Yemen civil war erupted in September 2014 when the Houthis overtook Sana’a, forcing internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to relocate his government to the southern city of Aden. In March 2015, Hadi requested a Saudi-led coalition intervene militarily in order to halt Houthi advances.

The fighting has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 Yemenis.