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article imageSaudi Arabia and Houthis hold secret peace talks on Yemen

By Ken Hanly     Dec 2, 2019 in Politics
Secret talks between Saudi Arabia and the Yemen Houthi movement appear to be making progress. Prisoners were released, medical patients have been evacuated and the number of attacks are down significantly.
The Stockholm Agreement
Prior to the recent talks there had been an agreement to solve some humanitarian issues such as access to ports for delivery of humanitarian aid. The Stockholm agreement had three main parts: "1 An agreement on the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa. 2 An executive mechanism on activating the prisoner exchange agreement.3 A statement of understanding on Taïz." Taiz is a city contested by both sides and Hodeiedah was a main port for the entry of humanitarian supplies essential for the many Yemenis facing starvation.
The agreement was in December of 2018 and raised hopes that the Yemen war could be ended. But as a recent article reports: "..those hopes faded quickly, as both sides accused each other of failing to implement the pact. Though the United Nations-led scheme has apparently foundered, separate talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia have Yemenis wondering whether some sort of peace may in fact be on the table. "
The talks
The Saudis have admitted there are "indirect, behind-the-scenes talks' with the Houthis, who control much of North Yemen and have the support of Iran. Oman that borders on Yemen has been brokering the talks. Early suggestions have been that the deal might be somewhat the same as the deal with southern separatists that ended fighting with the Saudis and separatist southerners with their UAE allies in Aden and adjoining areas. As the BBC reported: "Yemen's government has signed a power-sharing deal with separatists in the south of the country that is intended to end months of infighting.The two are meant to be part of an alliance with a Saudi-led multinational coalition that has been battling the rebel Houthi movement since 2015."
However, the deal with Saudis the UAE and separatists has upset the Hadi government does which does not like sharing power with the separatists. In the past, the Hadi government, that has the support of Saudi Arabia, has rejected any deal in which the Houthis get anything. In the Hadi view it is simply the legitimate government and the Houthis have no claim to any power.
New deal will be between Saudis and Houthis with no Hadi government involvement
The Saudis are interested in stopping attacks on its own soil by the Houthis. A Houthi source in Sanaa told Middle East Eye that the current talks are not part of the Stockholm agreement.'Saudi Arabia is pursuing a truce to protect its land and its people'"The Stockholm agreement was between the Houthis and Hadi’s government, but now the negotiations are between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia,” he said, on condition of anonymity."
The Hadi government is opting to still demand unconditional, indefinite rule over the whole of Yemen. However, the Saudis may be anxious for a deal with the Houthis that could involve some sort of power-sharing elements as well. Even an agreement for free elections could reduce any control of the Hadi government as its unpopularity in many places caused the Houthi rebellion in the first place.
More about Houthis, Saudi arabia, Yemen civil war
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