This week’s Geneva peace talks for Yemen continue to be stalled, with no sign that they will ever start at all. While fighting was supposed to be on hold pending these talks, pro-Saudi forces attacked areas around the key Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, seeking further territorial gains. 16 militiamen were reported killed in airstrikes around the city.
The biggest sticking point on the Geneva talks is that the Shi’ite Houthi movement, against whom the Saudis are fighting, has so far been unable to attend. They are seeking travel guarantees not just for being allowed to fly to Geneva, but to be allowed to go back to northern Yemen after the talks are over.
The Houthis are saying they won’t let their delegation leave unless they’re allowed to return. The Houthis are also seeking permission to send wounded people to Oman. This too has a sticking point, with them wanting to make sure the wounded can return after the treatment.
This is not just an idle concern. Last time a Houthi plane was allowed abroad, it got stuck in Djibouti for months on end under Saudi-imposed sequestration. The Saudis demanded an indefinite amount of time to search the plane, though nothing was ever found, and they don’t want to see that happen to a high-ranking delegation in the middle of an invasion of their territory.