The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Mr. Martin Griffiths visits Yemen Wednesday to prepare for peace talks after fresh fighting erupted in the port city of Hodeidah.
The UN envoy is due to meet with Iran-backed Houthi officials in the capital Sanaa in a bid to persuade the militia as well as the legitimate government to kick off peace negotiations in Sweden by the end of the upcoming December.
Both sides recently expressed support for Griffiths’ efforts, but the eruption of violence after a lull raised the possibility talks could be derailed.
Local military officials accused the Houthi militia on Monday of firing in the eastern part of Hodeida. Pro-government forces responded and Saudi-led coalition jets launched airstrikes.
A senior state official has also accused the Houthis of firing a rocket toward Saudi territory, saying it failed to reach its target and fell into Yemen.
Britain, a member in the United Nations Security Council has circulated a draft resolution to the rest members of the council, calling for a cease-fire in Yemen, a halt to attacks on civilian areas, and unhindered access to Hodeidah.
Hodeidah port is under rebel control and is a lifeline for food, fuel, and humanitarian aid to the suffering population.
Officials in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of sending arms to the rebels through the port, a charge it denies.
The US administration of President Trump has joined its Western allies in demanding a cease-fire in Yemen. The United States has stopped providing refueling services to Saudi coalition aircraft that attack Yemen.
For his part, Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said a cease-fire will eventually take hold in Yemen, but that each side wants to fire the final shot before it takes effect.
“Usually, before a cease-fire goes into effect, we normally witness an escalation of hostilities,” he said. “And it appears to me that since the fighting continues in Hodeida — and the claim that they fired a rocket or a missile into Saudi Arabia that did not reach its target — tells us that the Houthis are keen on telling everybody that the last shot was theirs before the cease-fire.”
The Iran-backed Houthi militia has controlled the capital Sanaa in 2014, forcing the government to flee to neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The group has since relocated to the southern city of Aden.
Furthermore, Saudi-led airstrikes aimed at driving out the Houthis have killed thousands of people and wiped out entire civilian neighborhoods, including hospitals.
Moreover, the fighting has compounded the misery in Yemen, which is also dealing with mass starvation and a cholera outbreak.
WHO or the World Health Organization estimates over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Yemen since the Saudis intervened in March 2015. Some human rights groups, however, believe the death toll may be five times higher.