Saudi official says Riyadh has 'open channel' with Houthis | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

13 November, Wednesday


Saudi official says Riyadh has 'open channel' with Houthis

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Riyadh has an "open channel" with Yemen's Iran-backed rebels with the goal of ending the country's civil war, a Saudi official said Wednesday, weeks after the rebels offered to halt attacks on the kingdom, Eurasia Diary reports citing Associated Press.

The comment comes after Saudi Arabia brokered a power sharing agreement between Yemen's internationally recognised government and southern separatists, which observers say could pave the way for a wider peace deal.

"We have had an open channel with the Houthis since 2016. We are continuing these communications to support peace in Yemen," a senior Saudi official told reporters.

"We don't close our doors with the Houthis."

The official, who declined to be named, did not describe the nature of the communication but the development came after rebel missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities spiked over the summer, followed by a lull in recent weeks.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthi rebels, who seized the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen in 2014, sparking a Saudi-led military intervention the following March.

Washington too is in talks with the Houthis, Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said during a visit to Saudi Arabia in September.

He did not say whether the Americans were holding talks separately with the rebels, but analysts say they were likely happening in consultation with Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Washington.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 as the rebels closed in on second city Aden, prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into Saudi exile.

Riyadh had reportedly hoped for a quick win against the Houthis, but instead waded into a quagmire that has cost it billions of dollars and hurt its reputation, while devastating the Arab world's poorest country.

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