Skip to main content

Yemeni government threatens to quit peace talks in Kuwait

UN envoy given "last chance" to make Houthis comply with resolution recognising President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi as talks stall again
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed addresses a press conference on 15 May in Kuwait City (AFP)

Yemen's government threatened on Tuesday to quit peace talks with Houthi rebels, giving the UN envoy a "last chance" to make them comply with UN resolutions.

"We have informed the UN special envoy to bring a document signed by the rebels in which they recognise the basic references and UN Security Council resolutions," Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who heads the government delegation, told a press conference.

"If they sign and comply, we will go back to the talks ... If they don't comply, the talks will then have no meaning... They become a waste of time," Mikhlafi said.

He said the document should include a clear acknowledgement by the rebels of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and of the legitimacy of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his government.

The minister said his team will remain in Kuwait City until the weekend and then take a decision, adding this was a "last chance" for UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to salvage the talks.

"The talks have made no progress" after almost four weeks of negotiations with Houthis, who are backed by Iran, he said.

The foreign minister's threat came hours after the government delegation suspended its participation in the UN-brokered negotiations for the second time this month.

Mikhlafi said the rebels had repeatedly refused to discuss key issues and insisted on power-sharing first, in violation of UN resolutions.

Earlier, Mikhlafi charged on Twitter that the Houthis who control the capital had "torpedoed the talks completely," by backtracking on commitments.

The government wants the Houthis to comply with a Security Council resolution ordering them to pull out of territory they occupied in a 2014 offensive and surrender heavy arms they captured.

Sources close to the government and rebel delegations confirmed to the AFP news agency that a session scheduled to take place on Tuesday morning was cancelled after the government team withdrew.

The pullout comes two days after the UN envoy said he was optimistic about achieving a peaceful settlement in the war-torn country.

The two delegations were on the verge of finalising a deal to release half of the detainees and prisoners they hold before the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in early June.

The United Nations estimates that more than 6,400 people have been killed and 2.8 million displaced in Yemen since March last year.

A major stumbling block at the talks in Kuwait City remains the form of government that would control Yemen in a transitional period.

The rebels want to share power with Hadi while his delegation insists he is the legitimate UN-backed head of state.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.