|Date: Jun 8, 2018|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Yemen peace plan sees Houthis abandoning missiles|
WASHINGTON: A U.N. peace plan for Yemen calls on the Houthi movement to give up its ballistic missiles in return for an end to the bombing campaign against it by an Arab-led coalition and a transitional governance agreement, according to a draft document and sources.
The plan, which has not been made public and could be modified, is the latest effort to end Yemen’s 3-year-old civil war, which has spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The conflict pits the Iran-aligned Houthis, who took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014, against other Yemeni forces supported by a coalition loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi and led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Previous efforts to end the war, which according to the United Nations has killed more than 10,000 people, have failed. It is unclear whether the new plan will fare any better, given the divergent interests of fighters on the ground and international backers.
The draft document seen by Reuters and confirmed by two sources familiar with it says that as a step toward new security arrangements, “heavy and medium weapons including ballistic missiles shall be handed over by non-state military actors in an orderly and planned fashion.”
“No armed groups shall be exempt from disarmament,” it says.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the language included the Houthis, who have launched ballistic missiles at neighboring Saudi Arabia.
The document also cites plans to create a transitional government, led by an agreed-upon prime minister, in which “political components shall be adequately represented,” in an apparent nod to the Houthis, who would be unlikely to cede Sanaa without participation in a future government.
The plan offers no further detail on how much representation the
Houthis might receive in such a transition government.“The intention is to link security and political aspects starting with a cessation of fighting ... then to move toward a withdrawal of forces and the formation of a national unity government. This last objective could possibly be the hardest,” one of the sources said.
The peace plan was drafted by special U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths, who is due to present a “framework for negotiations” in Yemen by mid-June.
A Houthi official cautiously welcomed the U.N. efforts, describing a cease-fire as the first building block in the political process. “Our optimism will be determined by how serious and respectful the other parties are of the U.N. role,” the official told Reuters, noting that previous truces had failed.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, signaled Abu Dhabi’s desire to support Griffiths’ efforts.
“Politically, there is a necessity to back the U.N. effort. It will ultimately mean a transition, to a new political order in Yemen. Clearly with the U.N. effort, the military and political process will see the Houthis pull out of urban centers,” he told UAE English-language newspaper The National.
UAE-backed Yemeni forces and the Houthis are currently in a standoff over the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hudaida.