The outgoing UN envoy to Yemen has accused the Iran-backed Al Houthis of torpedoing a comprehensive peace deal that was designed to put an end to more than three years of bloody conflict in Yemen.
In his last briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad said that Al Houthis refused to sign a peace agreement that was built on discussions with the internationally-recognised government and Al Houthis.
“It became clear that the Al Houthis were not prepared to make concessions on the proposed security arrangements. This has been a major stumbling block towards reaching a negotiated solution,”he said.
In the final hour, Al Houthis rejected security arrangements of the agreement that called for them to pull out of cities and hand over arms to a military committee composed of neutral army generals.
“I would like to announce, for the first time, that we were about to reach agreement on a peace proposal, developed in consultation with the parties,” he said.
Ould Shaikh Ahmad said that during his three-year term as a UN envoy to Yemen, he spared “no efforts” to broker a political settlement that could end the war and put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people.
“Those who follow the Yemen file closely will acknowledge that the United Nations has spared no effort to help the Yemeni parties reach a peaceful solution,” he said.
Ould Shaikh Ahmad announced in January that he would design from his post as UN envoy to Yemen.
In February, United Nations’ chief appointed former British diplomat Martin Griffiths as his new envoy to Yemen.
“I wish the new Envoy Mr. Martin Griffiths, all the success in his efforts, which I have no doubt will benefit from his wide-ranging experience in diplomacy. I hope that this roadmap will constitute a cornerstone to move forward and activate the peace process.”
The outgoing UN envoy thanked the Saudi-led coalition for their generous humanitarian support that saved thousands of lives in Yemen.
“I welcome the generous pledge of $1 billion by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to support humanitarian action and reconstruction in Yemen, as well as their commitment to raise an additional $500 million from other donors in the region.”
For the internationally-recognised government, the UN envoy remarks about Al Houthis confirms their repeated accusations that Al Houthis are not interested in peace.
Meanwhile in the Saudi capital, Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al Maliki called for protecting historical sites from Al Houthi attacks.
“We demand protecting historical monuments from Al Houthi militia tampering, ” Al Maliki said at a press conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, adding that government forces have recaptured 776 military sites from Al Houthis.
He also accused Al Houthis of forcing children into becoming child soldiers.
The Saudi-led coalition appeal for protecting Yemen’s ancient sites comes almost a week after the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that Hodeida’s Zabid, the capital of Yemen from the 13th to 15th centuries that hosts some of the world’s oldest mosques, is at increasing risk as a pending battle between government forces and Al Houthis nears.