Director of the Office of the President of Yemen, Abdullah Al-Alimi, said during the Yemen Media Call – a media briefing session organized by the Sana’a Center– that Yemen’s internationally recognized government was ready to go into direct negotiations with the armed Houthi movement, adding that it was also in favor of reopening Sana’a airport as well the port of Hudaydah as part of a Houthi ceasefire.
He added that the government was not represented in the recent Muscat meetings, and said that the armed Houthi movement insists on escalating hostilities in Marib and politicizing the humanitarian file.
He also accused the Houthis of thwarting recent negotiations led by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking in Oman for reaching a ceasefire, noting that the government had agreed to all suggestions regarding the matter.
On the Riyadh Agreement
According to Al-Alimi, the government gave the political aspects in the Riyadh Agreement precedence over the military provisions, over fear of the deterioration of services in Aden.
He said that the government was attacked by the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which is supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), noting that the presidency is working with Riyadh to overcome the current situation.
He said that Saudi Arabia had invited both the government and the STC for talks in the Saudi capital regarding the implementation of the remaining articles of the Riyadh Agreement. “We are still waiting on the council to return to Riyadh,” Al-Alimi said.
He said that the Riyadh Agreement did not fail. Rather, he said it needs to be strengthened with its remaining articles implemented.
On the government’s relationship with the UAE
As for Yemeni government’s relationship with the UAE, Al-Alimi said they had their differences but did not elaborate on their nature. He indicated that he was one of the go-to people with regards to the relationship between the Yemeni president and Emirati leaders, and expressed hope that the relationship between the two parties would improve and develop further.
On the battle of Marib
Al-Alimi said that the battles in Marib have killed about 2,400 on the government side, and injured about 5,000 others since last January. He also noted that Houthis launched 93 missiles, 360 shells and 257 bomb and reconnaissance aircraft during that period.
Al-Alimi welcomed any efforts to provide military support to the national army in Marib, noting an offer made by Tareq Saleh, commander of the National Resistance Forces stationed on the West Coast. Saleh’s forces do not fall under the leadership of the Defense Ministry.
The director explained that the government sought for the Riyadh Agreement to include all military factions that currently fall outside the umbrella of the Ministry of Defense, but Saudi Arabia preferred it to focus on resolving the situation in southern Yemen.
On Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi
Al-Alimi did not mention an expected return of President Hadi to Yemen. Hadi has been living in Riyadh since mid-2015. Instead, Al-Alimi pointed to the attack on Aden airport on December 30, 2020 when the newly-formed government was targeted in a missile attack that left at least 28 people killed and 107 others injured. A UN investigation found that Houthis were responsible for the attack.
On the topic of the Islah party – in which he’s a member – Al-Alimi said that the party does not interfere with matters related to the presidency and it has nothing to do with him being the director of the presidential office.