Dr. Nasser al-Khobaji, a senior official with the Southern Transitional Council (STC), expressed support for the talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi group (Ansar Allah), and stressed the importance of including other Yemeni parties in order to advance the peace process in Yemen, during the Yemen Media Call – a briefing with international and local journalists organized by the Sana’a Center on October 2.
“Any potential agreement between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Houthis is a positive development and a step in the right direction,” said Al-Khobaji, Chairperson of the STC’s Political Commission and Head of the Negotiations Affairs Unit. “We recognize that such talks will help lay the groundwork for a future political settlement that all relevant actors on the ground can participate in.”
Al-Khobaji confirmed that the STC and other components of Yemen’s internationally recognized government have been excluded from the ongoing talks and have not received updates on their progress thus far. In order to prepare a response to any agreements reached between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, he called for the components of the government to engage in dialogue and form a joint negotiating delegation as soon as possible.
Al-Khobaji also reiterated the STC’s position that peace in Yemen depended on resolving the southern issue and agreeing on the future form of the Yemeni state. “We (the STC) are committed to the independence of the south as a struggle and a strategic goal, but we are open to discussing all options,” Al-Khobaji said.
Other topics discussed during the media call included the STC’s internal reforms in recent months, efforts to reach out to other southern groups, and the functioning of the government. Al-Khobaji called on groups within the government to increase the effectiveness of the Presidential Leadership Council and other governmental institutions and allow them to carry out their duties fully by finalizing internal bylaws and processes, and committing to past agreed-upon political, military, and economic arrangements.
The full Yemen Media Call with Dr. Al-Khobaji can be seen here.