On Thursday, the UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, met with the top Houthi negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam to discuss the stalled Yemen peace process in Muscat, Oman.
Abdulsalam shared a picture of the meeting on Twitter and said they discussed ways to “end the unjust siege” imposed by Saudi Arabia. Lifting the blockade on Yemen is a key Houthi demand for a ceasefire, but so far, the US has not pressured Riyadh into ending the embargo. The UN has warned if conditions don’t change, 400,000 Yemeni children under five will starve to death.
In a statement on the meeting, Griffiths said the two sides discussed UN plans to reopen Sanaa airport and ease restriction on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, where the Saudi-led coalition is preventing ships from docking.
In the latest ceasefire proposal from the Saudis, Riyadh offered a partial opening of the airport and Hodeidah instead of a complete lifting of the blockade. The Houthis and international charities have called on the Saudi coalition to separate the blockade from the negotiations and not use the suffering of Yemen’s food-deprived population as leverage.
According to the Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV, Abdulsalam dismissed the Saudi offer as “nothing new.” He said the opening of airports and seaports is a “humanitarian right” and shouldn’t be used by Riyadh as a “pressure tool.”
Besides refusing to pressure the Saudis into lifting the blockade, the US continues to service Saudi warplanes despite President Biden’s pledges to end support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen.