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Yemen: Houthis Criticized Over Refusal To Open Main Roads In Taiz

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By Saeed Al-Batati

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Yemen will not begin discussing other issues with the Houthis under a UN-brokered truce until the militia accepts a proposal to open roads in Taiz, a government official has told Arab News.

Last month on June 6, UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg proposed opening a main road linking Taiz with other provinces that would partially ease the Houthi siege on the city, with the aim of resolving stalled negotiations between the two sides.

The government previously insisted on a complete lifting of the siege but accepted the proposal as long as other roads opened during subsequent rounds of talks.

But the Houthis rejected Grundberg’s proposal, dealing a blow to the talks and the truce that has by and large been holding since April 2.

“We will not accept discussing other issues or offer more concessions before they agree to the UN envoy’s proposal,” the Yemeni government official said anonymously because he was not authorized to brief reporters. “We have not received any invitation (from the UN envoy) to take part in a new round of discussion on the Taiz file.”

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The Houthis alternatively proposed opening an old, rough road connecting Taiz with the countryside.

Taiz residents and local government officials told Arab News that the proposed road was narrow, unpaved, and had been abandoned for over six decades.

The head of the Houthi delegation to the talks, Yahiya Abdullah Al-Razami, said on Friday that the movement would unilaterally open the old road, claiming it had not pledged to open main roads in Taiz when it signed the truce.

“This is not true. The Houthis signed the elements of the truce that include Sanaa airport, Hodeidah port, and opening roads in Taiz,” the government official said.

The Yemeni army has accused the Houthis of breaking the truce more than 100 times last week in Hodeidah, Taiz, Hajjah, Saada, Jouf, and Marib, and killing a soldier and wounding four more.

In Taiz, the army on Saturday said it had shot down a small explosives-rigged drone sent by the Houthis to government-controlled areas north of the city.

The Houthis have been laying siege to Taiz for the past seven years, having failed to take control of it due to resistance from government troops.

Yemeni and Western diplomats have criticized the Houthis for refusing to lift their siege and called on the movement to respond positively to peace efforts.

“The UN calls for access around Yemen’s third-largest city, Taiz. The Houthis must find a way to compromise on the UN proposal so we can move forward to broader issues important to Yemenis,” US Yemen envoy Tim Lenderking told France 24 Arabic TV on Friday.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak warned that the Houthis’ unwillingness and delays in opening roads in Taiz would jeopardize the truce.

He said his government had accepted the UN proposal on Taiz as it was a test of the militia’s motivations for making peace and ending the war.

“Lifting the siege is one of the main elements of the truce. We affirm our keenness to respect the truce and treat it as a space of hope and a window for peace. But the continued intransigence of the Houthi militia threatens the truce very seriously,” he told Lebanon’s Annahar Al-Arabi news website.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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