Key Houthi figure and acting head of the ruling council of northern Yemen, Saleh al-Sammad today endorsed the idea of a return to peace talks aimed at ending a year and a half of war in the country, but insisted it wouldn’t come at the expense of the Houthis resisting the Saudi-led invasion.
Sammad is the head of the newly installed ruling council, whose seats are split between the Houthi movement and the General People’s Congress, which has been the largest party in Yemen’s parliament since 1997, and which is run by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested recently, while in Saudi Arabia, that the talks be resumed, but echoed Saudi demands that it involve the Houthis unilaterally disarming and surrendering their cities to the Saudi-backed forces first.
Sammad noted that the last peace talks came with a promised ceasefire, which the Saudis immediately reneged on. He insisted that his forces have a right to defend themselves, insisting that wouldn’t change.
Sammad discussed recent rocket strikes into Saudi Arabia by saying “we just want the Saudis to feel the kind of pain and sufferings that the Yemenis feel from the aggression.” He denied having any territorial interests in Saudi Arabia.