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Yemeni Houthis should respond to Saudi Arabia’s peace plan

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Houthi militias, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran

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Yemeni Houthis should respond to Saudi Arabia’s peace plan

Last Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan urged the Iran-backed Houthi militia to join the initiative. “We want the guns to fall completely silent,” Prince Faisal said.

Prince Faisal further said: However, the time frame is up to the Houthis now. We are ready to go to them. But they have to decide, will they put the interests of Yemen first or the interests of Iran?

This wide-ranging initiative to bring peace in war-torn Yemen, aims at delivering aid to its people and end the country’s six-year war.   

The plan calls for a nationwide cease-fire supervised by the UN, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and new talks to reach a political resolution to the conflict.

Restrictions on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah would be eased, allowing access for ships and cargo. Income from the port, including taxes, would go to the central bank in Hodeidah in accordance with the Stockholm agreement.

The Saudi peace plan was widely welcomed across the region and the world, and was immediately supported by Yemen’s government, which blamed Iran-backed Houthi militias for the failure of previous initiatives.

“The Yemeni government is fully aware that ending the suffering of Yemenis will only be done by ending the coup and the war that was sparked by the Houthi militia,” the foreign ministry said. “It is committed to all peace efforts to end the coup, restore the state and reject Iran’s destructive project in Yemen”.

The US welcomed “the commitment of Saudi Arabia and the internationally recognized government of Yemen to a new cease-fire plan,” the State Department said. All parties to the conflict should “commit seriously” to an immediate cease-fire and engage in negotiations under the auspices of the UN, it said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Prince Faisal in a phone call that he supported efforts to “end the conflict in Yemen, starting with the need for all parties to commit to a cease-fire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

In New York, the UN said the Saudi initiative was in alignment with its own efforts to end the war, led by special envoy Martin Griffiths. “There’s no doubt that every effort must be made to end the conflict in a Yemen and address the suffering of the Yemeni people and the UN looks forward to continue working with all the parties to achieve this goal,” spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Salman said the initiative gives the Houthis the opportunity to uphold their country’s interests “over Iranian expansionist goals.”

According to analysts, the initiative to end the Yemeni crisis is the culmination of the strenuous efforts that Saudi Arabia has been making to establish peace in the neighboring country for several years.

They further said: The Saudi efforts involve alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people as well as to stop the threats posed to the Saudi sovereignty, and to protect its population, territories and facilities from attacks by Iranian drones and missiles.

Even though the comprehensive Saudi initiative, which was announced on Monday, did not leave any aspect of the crisis untouched, the first reaction of the Houthi militia was elusive as usual. They are sticking to their demand of lifting of what they call “the siege” first, and then reopening of Sanaa International Airport.

Although the initiative included proposals such as reopening of the airport to specific flights, depositing tax money and oil revenues in a joint account of the Central Bank of Yemen in Hodeidah and an immediate ceasefire, it requires a political will that is not mortgaged with Iran to accept this great offer.

Some of the analysts are questioning the political will within Houthi militias in accepting such excellent peace plan. They said: “Unfortunately, such a political will is not available with the Houthis, the agents of Iran, as their will is in the hands of their masters in Tehran, who are trying to achieve goals pertaining to their relations with the United States by increasing the number of raids targeting the Kingdom and the global energy sources with explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles”.

According to media reports, at the instigation of Iran and using the same tools of terror, Houthis are escalating terrorist attacks on Yemenis in Marib, Hajjah, Taiz and Hodeidah.

The Saudi announcement of peace plan comes at a time when American and Yemeni envoys are intensifying their own initiatives, with the US administration reiterating its desire to put an end to the Yemeni crisis.

Some of the experts on Yemen affairs said, the new Saudi initiative has exposed the extent to which Iran controls the political and military will of the Houthi militia.

It may be mentioned here that, Tehran has been funding the Houthi militia and supplying it with ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones with the notorious agenda of pushing the Houthis towards the fate of continuing terrorist acts, including sabotage, destruction and destabilization, and the worst victims of this reckless policy is the Yemeni people.

Although Iran’s agenda is to destroy Saudi Arabia’s oil installations, the Kingdom is fully capable of protecting its national wealth from terrorist attacks of Tehran-backed Houthi militias. Houthis and their masters in Tehran know well that Saudi oil is a red line globally and regionally as its supplies represent the backbone of the global economy, especially at a time when the economy is reeling under the escalating consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

At this junction, following Saudi Arabia’s announcement of peace plan, international community should stand in support of this plan and should understand, what Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan has said about the Iranian interference as the reason that the Yemeni war is being prolonged.

There is no doubt about Saudi Arabia’s best intention for the Yemeni people and saving them from Iran’s terrorist grip. It may be mentioned here that, Saudi Arabia is the largest providers of humanitarian and relief aid to the Yemeni people and also it leads the Arab Coalition to protect the country and restore peace with Yemeni legitimacy.

The entire world is aware of Iran’s notorious agenda of exploiting the Yemeni crisis in achieving its goals in its relations with the United States. Moreover, by using the Houthis militias, Iran desires of continuing and even further expanding its dangerous agenda of spreading terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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