By Arab News
By Saeed Al-Batati
The EU on Tuesday criticized the Iran-backed Houthis for refusing to end their siege on Taiz, a major Yemeni city, as the UN Yemen envoy pushes the warring parties to extend the truce.
“The EU deeply regrets a rejection by the Houthis of the latest proposal by UN special envoy (UNSE) on road reopening notably around Taiz,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement, urging the Houthis to accept the UN’s proposals in Taiz.
Brussels also called on warring parties in Yemen to extend the UN-brokered truce for further six months.
“The EU urges the Houthis to reconsider and accept the UNSE’s proposal. The EU calls on all parties to accept a further six-month extension of the truce beyond Aug. 2. This is what the Yemeni people wish and deserve after suffering under the conflict for too long,” the statement added.
The two-month truce that came into effect on April 2 was extended by a further two months, but it suffered a significant blow in June after the Houthis rejected the UN envoy’s proposal on opening roads in Taiz to partially end the people’s suffering amid the Houthis’ seven-year siege of the city.
The Yemeni government welcomed the EU statement on opening roads in Taiz and urged EU countries to keep pressure on the Yemeni militia until they end their siege on the city.
The EU appeal to the Yemeni parties to extend the truce for at least six months came as the UN Yemen Hans Grundberg is seeking to convince the Yemeni government and the Houthis to implement all of the truce’s terms and also renew it.
The envoy’s spokeswoman, Ismini Palla, told Arab News on Tuesday that Grundberg will be extensively engaging in meetings with both sides amid hopes of extending the truce for “a longer period.”
The truce is focused on opening roads in Taiz and other provinces, halting hostilities, resuming flights from the Houthi-held Sanaa, and allowing fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port.
The UN proposal on Taiz suggested initially opening a main road and several secondary roads leading into and out of Taiz.
The Houthis said they would only open a small road as they deployed new military forces and equipment outside the city.
The Houthi resistance to initiatives for alleviating the suffering of the people in Taiz has sparked local and international outrage and condemnations.
Representatives of Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Britain and the US on Monday issued a joint statement after their meeting in London urging the Houthis to show flexibility during discussions on Taiz and immediately open roads in the city.
They thanked the Yemeni government for offering concessions and expressed support for the UN Yemen envoy’s efforts to extend the truce beyond the Aug. 2 deadline.
They welcomed the continuing implementation of agreed confidence-building measures by the government of Yemen, and called upon the Houthis to act with flexibility in negotiations over road closures around Taiz, and to immediately open the main roads.