Yemen PM visits Marib as Houthi desperation grows
Yemen PM visits Marib as Houthi desperation to capture key oil territory grows
Yemen's prime minister has visited conflict-torn Marib in a show of support and strength, as UN-brokered ceasefire effort falters.
Yemen's prime minister visited the battleground city of Marib on Thursday, in a bid to boost morale among troops as the Iran-backed Houthi offensive to capture the oil-rich region continues.
"History is being written now in Marib," said Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed told senior government officials in the city.
"All of Yemen is following Marib and we came to Marib to be part of this important moment… the state and its capabilities are with you," he added.
The prime minister spoke of the fragile peace that the UN and its affiliates is attempting to broker. He went on to criticise Iran's presence in the region and its attempts to block a peace deal.
"We are not begging for peace that establishes a fragile and racist state on Iran's model and its militias in the region," he said.
Marib Governor Sultan Al-Arada said thousands of Yemenis were forced to flee their homes due to the Houthi offensive in Marib.
"Yemenis can never enjoy peace as long as the state’s weapons are in the militia's hands," he said.
Marib is the government's last stronghold in the north but has come under siege from a fierce Houthi offensive, which is seeking to capture the oil-rich region.
Taking Marib would give the rebels much-needed leverage in future negotiations.
Faltering UN ceasefire
The United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths said Wednesday that efforts to reach a ceasefire were not making headway prompting fears of further bloodshed.
"We have been discussing these issues for over a year now. The international community has been supporting us in full force. Unfortunately, we are not where we would like to be in reaching a deal," Griffiths said in a statement.
A senior US official told Arab News that the Houthis had refused to meet with Griffiths and Tim Lenderking for talks in Oman.
They demanded the reopening of Sanaa airport to unlimited destinations and an end to Saudi airstrikes in exchange for a ceasefire in Marib.
"Meanwhile, the war continued unabated causing immense suffering to the civilian population," Griffiths said.
Yemen's long war has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, sparking what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Analysts say that although the flurry of international diplomacy provides the best opportunity for a breakthrough in years. Prospects for an end to the conflict remain slim in what has become an increasingly complex and fractured political landscape.