The Houthi rebels in Yemen have said they are willing to commit to a peace plan to end the country’s conflict, and the UN has announced that its envoy is going to the region to see how Yemen’s government will respond.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that the Houthis accepted a UN Security Council resolution that calls for an end to violence, withdrawal of their forces from all areas they have seized, and a halt to undermining the political transition in the country.
The decision was confirmed by the General People’s Congress, the party of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is aligned with the Houthis.
The party and Houthi representatives pledged to commit to the seven-point peace plan brokered by the UN in Oman, including ceasefire and the return of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to the capital, Sanaa.
Dujarric said the UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who has been trying to end the conflict, welcomed the Houthis’ latest statements accepting the resolution.
He said Cheikh Ahmed will be returning to the region on Thursday to try “to gel what is being said into something a little more concrete”. He will also seek the support of the government, the Houthis and regional powers for peace talks, Dujarric said.
A UN source, however, told Al Jazeera that he did not expect any breakthrough in Yemen’s crisis in the near future and that the Houthi letter to the UN would not change the situation as long as President AHadi and the Saudi-led coalition backing him reject talks.
The Yemeni government has repeatedly refused to participate in any peace talks with the rebels unless they accept the UN resolution.
The General People’s Congress Party on Wednesday called for the start of negotiations on devising an “implementation mechanism” for the UN resolution.
Yemen’s conflict pits Hadi, tribal fighters and southern secessionists against the Houthis – who seized Sanaa last year – and military units loyal to Saleh.
Several previous attempts to end the conflict have failed, and it has proven nearly impossible to arrange a humanitarian pause to deliver desperately needed aid.
The fighting has killed more than 4,000 people, leaving the Arab world’s poorest country in the grip of a humanitarian crisis and on the brink of famine.
A Saudi-led and US-backed coalition began launching air strikes against the Houthis and their allies on March 26, shortly after Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia during a rapid rebel advance on the south. Pro-government troops, backed by the coalition of Arab nations, have regained strategic ground from the rebels, including the southern port of Aden.