HODEIDAH: Yemen’s Houthi group said on Wednesday it was ready to stop fighting and join a national unity government, raising hopes of a resolution to a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.
The announcement appeared to confirm the details of a deal set out by US Secretary of State John Kerry a day earlier that he said included plans for a ceasefire starting on Thursday.
Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the political council of the Houthi’s Ansarullah group, said Saudi Arabia had also agreed to end its involvement in the war — though there was no official confirmation from Riyadh.
“Ansarullah’s position has been and still is with stopping the war and the establishment of a national unity government that incorporates all political components,” Bukhaiti told Reuters, responding to a question on Kerry’s announcement.
“The new thing is in the position of Saudi (Arabia), which has agreed in principle to stop the war as one of the parties to the conflict,” Bukhaiti added.
Kerry, in what could be his last trip to the Gulf before President Barack Obama’s term ends in January, said on Tuesday that officials from the Houthi group and the Saudi-led coalition meeting had agreed to a ceasefire starting on Thursday.
Underlining the complexity of the situation, Hadi’s government quickly rejected the move, complaining that it had been bypassed. Copies of a UN peace plan seen by Reuters in October suggested he would be sidelined in any future government.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said Kerry’s announcement had not been coordinated with the government which, he said, was not interested in the plan. “I believe the current US administration is incapable of providing any guarantees to any party and what Kerry has said is no more than a media bubble at our people’s expense,” Mekhlafi told Al Jazeera.
50 dead in heavy fighting
Heavy fighting between government forces and rebels in north and west Yemen has left 51 dead military officials said on Wednesday.
They said forces loyal to Hadi have clashed since Tuesday with Huthi rebels and allied renegade troops in the country’s northwest, near the border with Saudi Arabia.