UAE backs UN peace plan for Yemen

Sunday 30/10/2016
UN envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed speaks to reporters upon his departure at Sana’a airport following a two-day visit to Sana’a, Yemen. (Reuters)

Sana’a - The United Arab Emirates, a leading member of the Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, has endorsed a UN peace plan designed to end the war but which appears to sideline Presi­dent Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash described the plan put forward to the rebels as a political solution to the Yemeni crisis.
Gargash, posting on Twitter, said: “The aim of a political settlement is to give priority to the interest of Yemen and regional stability. UN efforts represent a chance to bring Yemenis back to the political track. Other alternatives are gloomy.”
Details of the UN peace plan have not been released but Reuters re­ported that it all but relegates Hadi to being a symbolic figure.
The UN plan states: “As part of the signing of a complete and com­prehensive agreement, the current vice-president (Ali Munsen al-Ah­mar) will resign and President Hadi will appoint a new vice-president.”
“After the completion of the withdrawal from Sana’a and the handing over of heavy and me­dium weapons (including ballistic missiles), Hadi will transfer all his powers to a vice-president, and the vice-president will appoint a new prime minister… (who will form) a national unity government,” it added.
The Hadi government is yet to of­ficially comment but in previous statements its members insisted that Hadi’s legitimacy was a red line.
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally and head of the General People’s Congress, is apparently gearing up for a power grab. Sources told The Arab Weekly that Saleh has been overstating his role and involvement in the Supreme Political Council, which was set up by the rebels to run the country’s affairs but is viewed as illegitimate by the international community.
The aim by Saleh is to strength­en his hand during negotiations, which has irked the Houthi lead­ership and was conveyed during a meeting with UN Special Envoy Is­mail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
The Houthis continued to fire ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, with the latest such attack aimed at the holy city of Mecca, the Saudi press agency said.
Coalition forces intercepted a missile launched by Houthi militias October 27th from Sa’dah province towards Mecca, the agency said. The missile was destroyed about 65km from Mecca without caus­ing any damage. It added that the coalition subsequently targeted the missile launch site.
Houthi media confirmed the mis­sile attack but said the intended target was King Abdulaziz Interna­tional Airport in Jeddah, which is part of the Mecca region. The Iran-allied militia said a Volcano-1 vari­ant missile was used in the attack.
Shia Houthis and their allies overran Sana’a in September 2014, seizing most of the country and Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition, sup­ported by the United States and Britain, began an air campaign against the rebels in March 2015. Arab coalition ground troops later entered the fight. The United Na­tions estimates that more than 7,000 people have been killed in the fighting and 2.8 million people displaced.