04/29/2016, 09.20
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Positive atmosphere but "no progress" in Yemeni peace talks

The UN special envoy speaks of friendly atmosphere in the talks, being held in Kuwait City, but adds that in the first week, there has been no positive developments. Distances remain between the parties and there were no face to face meetings. Offensive against al Qaeda in the south. Jihadis lose control of Al-Mukalla.


Kuwait City (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Yemeni peace talks, which began last week in Kuwait under the auspices of the United Nations, are taking place in a "positive atmosphere", although so far there has been no significant progress in negotiations between the warring parties.

This was stated by the UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who met representatives of the Shiite Houthi rebels and the government delegation on several occasions in the past two days. He added that the differences between the sides at war persist, and hopes that this second week of talks may provide positive developments.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 6,200 people have been killed and at least two million displaced in a year of fighting. The United Nations warns of a strong risk of "humanitarian catastrophe" in Yemen.

The peace talks in Kuwait are focused on five areas in particular: the withdrawal of militias and armed groups and the release of prisoners; the delivery of heavy weapons to the State; provisional safety measures; restoration of state institutions; the recovery of an inclusive political dialogue.

In a statement the UN special envoy said that divergences "of views" are normal "in a context of war"; However, adds Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, it is "crucial" that all the parties involved "make concessions ... in order to reach a comprehensive political agreement."

Sources inside the negotiations, on condition of anonymity, claim that there have so far been no face-to-face talks between the parties. Issues to be resolved include the fact that the Houthi rebels want to reach a political agreement before handing over the weapons; in contrast, the government wants the immediate implementation of resolution 2216 of the UN Security Council, according to which the rebels must withdraw from conquered territories, and proceed with disarmament.

Meanwhile in southern Yemen the offensive against the militia of al Qaeda continues.  The jihadists have lost control of Al-Mukalla, capital of the governorate of Hadramawt in recent days. It is a great blow for the extremist movement, because so far thanks to the proceeds from petroleum products and commercial navigation it was able to generate up to two million dollars a day.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war pitting the country’s Sunni leadership, backed by Saudi Arabia, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, who are allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are militarily supported by Iran, a charge the latter angrily rejects.

Groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to the Islamic State group are active in the country, which adds to the spiral of violence and terror.

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