Aaron to Asharq Al-Awsat: The Houthis are trying to make gains before the “cease-fire”
Thursday – 7 Rajab 1442 AH – February 18, 2021 AD Issue No. [
Riyadh: Abdulhadi Habtoor
The coalition forces in support of legitimacy in Yemen intercepted and destroyed two booby-trapped drones launched by the Houthis towards Saudi Arabia, yesterday.
The British ambassador to Yemen, Michael Aaron, believes in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis are trying to achieve gains on the ground, before any ceasefire.
Brigadier-General Turki Al-Roken Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, confirmed that “the attempts of the terrorist Houthi militia to attack civilians and civilian objects in a deliberate and systematic manner constitute war crimes.” With international humanitarian law and its customary rules.
Yesterday, the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation” praised the capabilities of the coalition, and Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimin, Secretary-General of the organization, confirmed in a statement issued yesterday that the organization supports and supports all measures taken by the coalition to stop “war crimes” committed by militias, including civilians and civilian objects in Saudi Arabia. And diplomatic sources believe that the recent Houthi escalation inside Yemen or towards Saudi territory is a result of the group’s fear that the recent peace efforts will be crowned with a comprehensive ceasefire in the country. The sources believe that the Houthi group, backed by the Iranian regime, wants to achieve gains on the ground before any ceasefire, which is a bad exploitation, according to the expression of diplomatic sources.
The United States removed the Houthi group from the list of terrorist organizations after the previous administration included it in late January, but the Biden administration kept the rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and other leaders on the sanctions list. The new US administration has also appointed a special envoy to Yemen, the veteran diplomat Timothy Linderking, who has a broad background on the Yemeni conflict, and began his duties effectively in visiting Saudi Arabia last week and meeting with Yemeni and Saudi officials.
The Houthi militias have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks, as they launch a large military operation in the Marib Governorate (central Yemen) in order to achieve any gains on the ground before the ceasefire. It also intensified the sending of missiles and explosive drones towards Saudi Arabia.
Returning to the British ambassador, Aaron believes that the Houthis “are trying to make progress before peace efforts from the international community. They are afraid of a ceasefire and want progress on the ground before that. Undoubtedly, this is a very bad thing and we do not need that.” He stressed that his country believes in a negative role for Iran in Yemen, as they finance the Houthis with money and weapons.
He added, “I think that they (the Houthis) are trying to make progress before the peace efforts of the international community. They are afraid that the cease-fire will take place and they want progress on the ground before that. Undoubtedly, this is a very bad thing, and we do not need that.”
Aaron pointed out that “some soldiers believe that their victory in Marib will mark the end of the war.” Observers believe that the recent Houthi escalation came with Iranian orders in order to improve its cards in any upcoming negotiations with the United States, albeit at the expense of killing Yemenis and exacerbating human suffering in the country. According to the British ambassador, starting direct or semi-direct consultations between the Yemeni parties to end the conflict is the best option to alleviate the suffering of the Yemenis.
He continued: “There are people on the side of legitimacy or activists and activists (civil society) who say the time is not right to negotiate with the Houthis, and there is no point in that. We do not want peace offered by the United Nations, we want peace that is better than that, and I do not know what peace they want. Of course, we need a sustainable peace, but we believe that the priority is a ceasefire and the start of negotiations. ”
The British ambassador added, “Without progress in the peace process and direct or semi-direct negotiations between the parties, we will see a greater deterioration on the ground, and the Yemeni people will suffer from the humanitarian problems that will continue.”
Despite this, Aaron admits that any coming peace will not be easy nor soon. He said: “I do not say: After a month, we will have a peace agreement and the end of all problems in Yemen. This is impossible. Most of the activists say that the United Nations does not understand anything, and that the roots of the problem must be solved. We have confidence in the United Nations. They understand the problem, but they say the solution must be step by step; We start with a ceasefire and the beginning of negotiations, then we will see the other matters. ”
The UK ambassador to Yemen stressed that the international community is aware and understands the danger of the Houthi group, adding: “We have no doubts about the Houthis. We understand what the Houthis are, but if the war continues, without negotiations, the Houthis will occupy the entire north of Yemen, and they will change society and approaches, and we will not see a moderate and tolerant Yemen, and it will end. ”
For its part, Western sources commented on the visit of the UN envoy Martin Griffiths to Tehran that the aim of the visit was to ask the Iranians not to interfere in the Yemeni affairs and to exert a positive influence on the Houthis who support them.
Although sources close to the office of the UN special envoy to Yemen described the visit as “good”, it broke into an apparent contradiction between Iran’s foreign policy and the “Revolutionary Guard” that manages the country’s real policy, as she put it.
The sources said, “The Iranians have said all the expected things, but the problem with Iran is that you are talking to the Foreign Ministry and they say positive things, but we know that Iran’s policy is not from foreign affairs, but from (the Revolutionary Guards).”
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