Yemen peace consultations end with uncertain deals on Hodeidah, prisoners

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-14 19:15:08|Editor: mmm
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A girl stands at the main gate of a house in Sanaa, Yemen, on Dec. 13, 2018. Yemen peace consultations ended on Thursday in Sweden with uncertain deals on Hodeidah and exchange of prisoners as well as understandings on Taiz. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)

by Fuad Rajeh

ADEN, Yemen, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Yemen peace consultations ended on Thursday in Sweden with uncertain deals on Hodeidah and exchange of prisoners as well as understandings on Taiz.

The deal on Hodeidah called for a cease-fire in port and city and redeployment of the forces of both sides under UN supervision.

The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who attended the last day of the consultations, said at a joint news conference that the UN will play a role in supervising Hodeidah seaport in accordance with the Yemeni law.

"The agreement is significant although there are foreseeable implementation challenges. Both sides are on the record saying that they agreed on a cease-fire and prisoners' exchange. If this is implemented, a framework for a peace settlement should be doable in the future," said Fatima Alasrar, a Washington-based policy analyst.

She believed this will lead to some type of solution, maybe not the best, but "a compromise that will spare the lives of many Yemenis."

However, she said whether the agreement will be implemented is a question, considering the situation that the Houthis once reneged, the Yemeni government is weak without the Saudi-led coalition, and the international community's attention is difficult to sustain.

Meanwhile, the warring parties also agreed to hold another round of talks in January 2019. But the delegation of the government stressed it will not go to the new round of talks unless the deals reached this time are implemented.

"We signed more than 75 deals with the Houthis since the war began, but none of them has been implemented. We hope the Houthis will adhere to what they have agreed to over Hodeidah and prisoners," said Khalid Al-Yamani, head of the government delegation.

Moreover, no progress was made on other issues including Sanaa airport, and the political and economic files. In separate news conferences at the end of the consultations, the two sides traded blames for failures to make progress on these issues.

Mahmoud Shohra, the information advisor to the Yemeni embassy in Jordan, said the deals with the Houthis reached during the Sweden consultations are yet to be taken seriously because the Houthis actually do not tend to make peace.

"Let's hope the Houthis will implement something this time as it was the first time they accepted to withdraw from a city," he said.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since 2014 when the Houthi rebels overtook the capital Sanaa and toppled the government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

The war has killed more than 10,000 people and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

It has pushed around half of the country's population to the brink of famine, as the UN says around 22.2 million, more than two thirds of the total, are in need of humanitarian or protection aid.

Hodeidah is a lifeline for the majority of the Yemeni people who live in Houthi-run regions. Around 80 percent of humanitarian aid and lifesaving imports come through the city's port.

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