On Tuesday, Yemeni government negotiators in the UN-brokered talks over the siege of Taiz accepted a UN proposal to open a vital road in the besieged city of Taiz, marking a milestone in the talks as the truce continues to provide considerable dividends.
Abdul Kareem Shaiban, the head of the government’s delegation at the talks in Amman, Jordan, said the delegation supports the UN envoy’s efforts to reach an agreement on ending the Houthi siege on Taiz, and urged the international community to order the Yemeni militia to implement the UN-brokered cease-fire and stop obstructing ideas for alleviating Yemenis’ suffering.
“We appreciate the positive role of the UN special envoy and his team, and we hope that he will exert the necessary pressure and swift measures on the Houthi group to speed up the implementation of the opening of the main roads, and not allow it to manipulate and consume the time of the second truce,” Shaiban said in a statement, accusing the rebels of unilaterally opening small and unpaved roads in Taiz to ease international pressure on them to end the siege.
In an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations in Amman, UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg said on Monday that he proposed to the two sides that they open a main road in Taiz and roads in other provinces as a first step toward fully reopening routes that were closed during the war.
“The parties have a moral and political obligation to engage seriously and urgently with the UN proposal, prioritizing the interests of civilians and delivering immediate and tangible results to the people of Taiz and Yemen as a whole,” Grundberg’s office said in a statement, adding that his latest proposal took into account both sides’ concerns as well as comments from Yemen’s civil society.
The ongoing talks on the Taiz siege and the opening of highways in other provinces are part of a UN-brokered cease-fire that took effect on April 2. The cease-fire, which was extended for another two months, dramatically reduced hostilities across the country, allowing commercial flights to resume from the Houthi-controlled Sanaa airport and the arrival of petroleum shipments to the western city of Hodeidah.
Since the beginning of the negotiations on Taiz, mistrust has hung over them as both sides traded allegations over road delays in Yemen’s third-largest and most populous city. The Houthis firmly rejected the suggestion of opening the key roadways connecting Taiz to Sanaa, Hodeidah, and Aden, according to the Yemeni government, and instead offered opening a rough and infrequently used route.
The Houthis further claimed that the Yemeni government refused to unlock routes in the city from areas under their control. Residents and officials reported seeing Houthi bulldozers and vehicles cleaning sands and reopening an abandoned road that connects the besieged town to other locations in the north and west this week.
Residents and government officials were outraged by the Houthi maneuver, which was widely viewed as a one-sided move by the Houthis to claim they had eased the blockade of Taiz.
“This is a very narrow, one-way, and dirt route,” military officer Abdul Basit Al-Baher told Arab News over the phone.
“We want Al-Huban Road to be opened.” “This is Taiz’s busiest road, connecting the city to the southern provinces and the eastern countryside,” Al-Baher explained.
According to a Yemeni official, the Houthis broke the truce in Taiz on Tuesday by beginning artillery attacks on army positions near an air-defense military base northwest of Taiz.