Saudi Minister says Yemen’s Houthis ignoring calls for political solution

Deputy defense minister of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday blamed Yemen’s Houthi movement for a mired peace deal in the primary port of Hodeidah, stating the Iran-aligned group was ignoring the kingdom’s call for a political solution to the four-year war.

A Western-backed Sunni Muslim military coalition is leading by Saudi Arabia that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally acknowledged government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

“They are avoiding our calls for a political solution to this crisis,” Prince Khalid bin Salman stated at a security conference in Moscow, in his first comments on Yemen since becoming deputy defense minister in February.

The warring parties attained a deal at U.N.-sponsored talks in Sweden in December for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from the Red Sea port town of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of people.

The Houthis declare they are prepared to implement the Hodeidah deal, however, that the other side is obstructing it.

The truce has largely held but the redeployment of forces has mired with each side blaming the other for impeding the pact, the first major breakthrough peacefully efforts in over 4 years aimed at paving the way for political negotiations.

Prince Khalid, a son of King Salman and a full younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accused regional rival Iran of trying “to seize the Yemeni state” by supporting the Houthis, who control Hodeidah and also most urban centers in Yemen.

The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

The confrontation, which has slaughtered tens of thousands of individuals and pressed the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine, is largely observed in the region since a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and also its arch-foe Shi’ite Muslim Iran.

The Armed Confrontation Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a database tracking violence in Yemen, last week said around 70,000 people have been reported killed since the start of 2016.

Western nations, some of which supply arms and common sense to the alliance, have increased pressure on Saudi Arabia along with the United Arab Emirates to conclude the conflict following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October at the hands of Saudi agents at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.