Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed forces have issued a pair of ultimatums today, on what was supposed to be the start of the Yemen peace talks in Geneva. UN officials aren’t giving up but it seems like the talks may never actually start.
Indeed, the Houthis haven’t even shown up yet. The Houthis are seeking a series of assurances before sending a delegation, including allowing wounded Houthis to go to Oman for treatment, and an assurance that the delegation, if it goes to Geneva, will be allowed to return to Yemen after the talks.
The Saudi-backed government wants no such guarantees given to the Houthis, and says they will leave Geneva if the Houthis don’t show up within 24 hours. They also say the failure of the Houthis to show up proves they don’t really want peace.
This is how past peace talks have gone in Yemen as well. The two sides tend to allow peace talks to be cobbled together around them, with each aiming to ensure that they can blame the other for the inevitable failure.