Saudi-Led Planes Continue Bombing Houthis

Saudi-Led Planes Continue Bombing HouthisSaudi-Led Planes Continue Bombing Houthis

Riyadh Yaseen, the foreign minister of Yemen’s fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi on Sunday rejected a call for peace talks issued by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh amid a Saudi-led coalition that continues to carry out a military operation against Houthi forces and Saleh loyalists.

This was a response to a Saleh call on Friday for all Yemenis to return to political dialogue in order to stop the conflict ravaging the country, RT said in a report.

He was speaking after a day of some of the most widespread unrests across Yemen.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led aircrafts pounded Houthis in central Yemen and the capital Sanaa on Monday despite a formal end to the airstrikes, residents said, and a humanitarian crisis worsened as both sides blocked aid.

Residents said warplanes flew between 15 and 20 sorties against groups of Houthi fighters and arms depots in the al-Dhalea provincial capital, Dhalea, and the nearby city of Qa’ataba, between dawn and 9 a.m. local time, setting off a chain of explosions that lasted for two more hours.

Fighting also intensified on Sunday, as forces backing Hadi, currently in exile, made gains against Houthi fighters in the city of Taiz. In the southern province of Dalea, Hadi supporters seized several rural districts from the Houthis after hours of fighting.

The Saudi-led military campaign has been going on for a month now. The latest estimates put the civilian death toll at 550 people, 115 of whom children. The campaign targets Houthi forces and supporters of Saleh.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said the first phase of the campaign, codenamed operation “Decisive Storm,” had achieved all of its goals and was concluded. The new phase, operation “Restoring Hope,” was announced with a focus on diplomacy and didn’t rule out new airstrikes.

  Peace-Breaking Coalition

Yemen’s warring political factions were on the verge of a power-sharing deal when airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition began a month ago, derailing the negotiations, the United Nations envoy who mediated the talks said.

Jamal Benomar, who spearheaded the negotiations until he resigned last week, told The Wall Street Journal the Saudi bombing campaign against Houthis has hardened positions on a key point—the composition of an executive body to lead Yemen’s stalled transition. This will complicate new attempts to reach a solution, he said.

“When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,” said Benomar, a Moroccan diplomat.

Benomar was scheduled to address the UN Security Council behind closed doors on Monday and report on the suspended political talks.

Most Yemeni political factions agree talks were progressing in the run-up to the Saudi air campaign. This round of UN-brokered talks—which began in January and included 12 political and tribal factions—represented a crucial part of a mission to install a unified government in Yemen, the poorest Arab country and home to al-Qaeda’s most dangerous offshoot.

The Saudi-led intervention aims to restore Hadi and, with al-Qaeda militants thriving in the chaos and one of the world’s busiest oil shipping lanes off the Yemeni coast at risk.