Should the newest attempt at peace with the Houthis fail, Yemen’s new authorities are “ready for war,” according to a top official, but they sincerely want the years-long struggle to end soon.

“Our first option is peace, but we are prepared for conflict,” Abdullah Al-Alimi said in his first interview since being named to an eight-member leadership council tasked with governing the country following the resignation of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi earlier this month.

“We believe the council is in a position to secure a decisive military victory with the coalition’s backing,” Al-Alimi said in Riyadh.

Hadi’s statement on April 7 that the council will take over control came at the conclusion of discussions in Riyadh that brought together all anti-Houthi factions.

The events occurred after the start of a two-month renewable cease-fire.

“We hope that the catastrophic situation in Yemen would inspire people to put personal and party interests aside in the pursuit of peace,” said Al-Alimi, who served as Hadi’s chief of staff.
He said the council’s leaders will meet with UN special envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg in the coming days.

According to Al-Alimi, the new council has not yet decided how long it will give the Houthis to join discussions.

If the peace talks fail, the newly allied anti-Houthi forces would launch a “coordinated multifront campaign” against the militia, according to Peter Salisbury, senior Yemen analyst for the International Crisis Group.

“They (the leadership council) have the potential to pursue peace more aggressively or to pursue war more vigorously, and the most likely outcome is that they do a little bit of both,” he added.


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