Oman Mediating in Yemen Crisis

Oman Mediating  in Yemen CrisisOman Mediating  in Yemen Crisis

A delegation containing several leaders of the Houthi group left for Oman, a pro-Houthi media reported on Saturday, while Yemen’s fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi said he will not attend the upcoming peace talks in Geneva.

The Al-Masirah channel said on Facebook that the delegation included Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdel-Salam and the head of the Houthi political council, Saleh al-Samad.

“We will discuss the Yemeni crisis with our brothers in Oman during the visit,” Abdel-Salam was quoted by the channel as saying. He added that the delegation was paying a visit to the sultanate at an invitation from it, World Bulletin said in a report.

Houthis are reported to be in search of countries that can put pressure on a Saudi Arabia-led coalition to suspend anti-Houthi strikes across Yemen.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of Hadi said on Saturday that he would not attend the peace-seeking Geneva talks due to the security situation and because Houthis have not satisfied a precondition of his ousted government to pull out of towns and cities they have in control, including the capital, Sanaa.

Hadi fled to the Saudi capital Riyadh along with his government in late March when the Houthis advanced on his southern stronghold of Aden.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all sides to attend the talks, which are set to begin on May 28. In a letter to Ban, Hadi said he was “in favor of Thursday’s talks” but insisted the UN press the Houthis to pull back, according to the official Saba news agency.

 Haradh Hit Hard

On Sunday, Saudi forces and Houthis traded heavy artillery fire which blew up part of the main border crossing between the two countries overnight, residents said, an escalation of the two-month war.

The Haradh border crossing, the largest for passengers and goods between the world’s top oil exporter, and its impoverished neighbor, was evacuated amid shelling which razed its departure lounge and passport section, witnesses said.

Residents in the central city of Taiz said Houthi forces and pro-Hadi fighters fired tank and artillery shells at each other throughout the city overnight, and the Houthis seized control of a military base on a strategic mountaintop.

Meanwhile, Houthis seized two unused missiles after a Saudi F-16 jet was shot down on the outskirts of Sanaa, the Yemen Post newspaper reported.

It said the plane was a US-made F-16, although the Royal Saudi Air Force is not equipped with such planes. The Air Force’s inventory, however, includes F-15s, and the fuel tank photographed among the wreckage may belong to this plane.

Also on Saturday, warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition launched a fresh wave of airstrikes across Yemen as fighting raged on the ground in the south of the country, witnesses said.

The Saudi-led alliance launched the air campaign against the Houthis on March 26 after the Houthis seized the capital and advanced on Aden. The UN says the violence has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced close to half a million more.