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Arabic press roundup: Talking war and peace in Yemen

Gulf media trumpets announcement that coalition will soon end 'major military operations'. Others are not so easily convinced
End of combat or endless war? (AFP)

Millions of people in need of aid, cities under siege, rival governments, mass civilian casualties and the growing threat of IS-inspired attacks. 

Against this backdrop in Yemen, the Saudi coalition's chief spokesman, Ahmed al-Asiri, announced earlier this week that major military operations were about to end, and insisted it would not become "another Libya".

His announcement was trumpeted in the Saudi and Gulf media. 

The Saudi website, al-Sharq, followed up the announcement by saying that there was hope of peace talks between the coalition and their enemies, the Houthi movement, restarting later this month.

It reported Sheikh Abualziz Al Miflihi, an adviser to Yemen's president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, as saying that Spain had offered to host talks under the sponsorship of the United Nations.

However, and tellingly, he added a rider: "Any peace talks must take in consideration the new facts on the ground. We have called on the coup militias to come to the negotiation table many times but they never agreed." 

Kuwaiti journalist Salim al-Harbi said in the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper that improving conditions had paved the way for Asiri's announcement.

"The scene in Yemen is leaning to be positive side whether militarily or politically," he said. "Ending the siege on Taiz city and the looming fight for Sanaa put pressure on the alliance of coup militias and forces loyal to former president Ali Saleh."

But such optimism was not shared by those on the opposing side.

The anti-Saudi, pro-Hezbollah suggested the Saudi announcement could be a "manoeuver", and noted that the coalition had announced a similar "end of combat" last April. 

In an article titled, "End to aggression or a manoeuver?", the outlet argued that the announcement by Asiri had also left the door open for the Saudi Arabian government to keep a physical presence in the country.

And columnist Hamid Zadah said on the Iranian-Arabic news website that Asiri's statement was an admission of defeat by Saudi Arabia. 

"It is clear that the heroic steadfastness of the Yemeni people has defeated the Saudi strategy and arrogance," he said. "The Saudis named their war at its early beginning "Operation Decisive Storm", then replaced as "Operation Restore Hope ". 

"Their war has become a joke in the region and the world. Saudi Arabia has been defeated by the Yemeni 'Mujahidin' and this is why its seeking to talk to them now."

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