Yemen’s Houthis to boycott UN envoy

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN envoy to Yemen, has been rejected and accused of bias by Houthi fighters.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was appointed as UN envoy to Yemen after his predecessor Jamal Benomar resigned in 2015 [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

Houthi fighters and their allies in Yemen have rejected the UN Special Envoy to the country, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as a peace negotiator, accusing him of bias.

The head of the rebel-installed Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Samad, said the UN envoy would no longer be allowed entry to the Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.

“There will be no more contact with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and he is not welcome here.”

Samad added that Ahmed was “not desirable” in efforts to resolve the conflict in Yemen, and if the UN chose another envoy, “he should respect the people’s will.”

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said the UN envoy had abandoned his neutrality and did not respect UN resolutions.

However, he gave no further details and did not say which resolutions he was referring to.

READ MORE: Who benefits from a weak and divided Yemen?

Slow peace process

Ahmed, a Mauritanian diplomat was appointed as UN envoy to Yemen after his predecessor Jamal Benomar resigned in 2015.

Benomar had come under criticism from some in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia as his efforts to broker peace showed little success.

Is peace in Yemen possible?

“The Houthis want to negotiate with an enforcer or someone with authority rather than a mediator,” Hakim Almasmari, Editor-in-Chief of Yemen Post told Al Jazeera via email.

The Houthi’s decision comes almost two weeks after the UN urged local authorities in Sanaa to investigate a “grave attack” on Ahmed’s convoy by demonstrators who were calling for an end to the blockade on the Sanaa airport, during his three-day visit to Sanaa.

He had been trying to broker a ceasefire for the holy month of Ramadan that began on May 27.

Yemen has been torn apart by conflict since 2014 when Houthi fighters allied with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh captured large expanses of the impoverished Arabian peninsula country.

A Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign in March 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government that fled the country after Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa.

According to the UN, more than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded in Yemen since the anti-Houthi coalition began its campaign last year.

The ongoing conflict has pushed the country to the brink of famine and taken a toll on health facilities.

“A solution for Yemen must happen before it is too late. The Yemen war and epidemic has the potential to spread outside its borders quicker than many might expect,” Almasmari said.

Last week, Ahmed told the UN Security Council that serious negotiations on first steps to a cessation of hostilities in Yemen had been slow and the key parties were reluctant to discuss the concessions needed for peace.

The Security Council reiterated its backing for the UN envoy after the briefing. 

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed could not be reached immediately for comment.

Yemen who controls what March 2017 [Al Jazeera]
Yemen who controls what March 2017 [Al Jazeera]


Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies