Yemen’s Hezbollah, pro-Hadi militias exchange prisoners as peace talks begin
Yemen’s Houthis and militiamen loyal to former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have exchanged hundreds of prisoners captured during the Saudi-led war on the Arab country.
The swap involved 71 Houthis fighters as well as 50 pro-Hadi militiamen.
It occurred in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Thursday, the same day that UN-brokered peace talks between the Houthis and the Hadi loyalists began in Kuwait, reports said.
The talks had been planned by the UN to open on Monday, but were delayed over accusations of truce violations from the parties to the Yemeni conflict.
Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, the head of Yemen’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said before flying to Kuwait that his delegation was going to the talks with the hope that the “bloody aggression” by Saudi Arabia would be halted.
On Friday, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri told Al Jazeera TV channel that Riyadh supported the peace talks but it would continue its war on Yemen if the negotiations failed.
In January, Asiri admitted that Saudi Arabia was stuck in a “static war” against its southern neighbor.
Yemen has seen almost daily military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015, with internal sources putting the toll from the bloody aggression at more than 9,500.
Hundreds of thousands have also been displaced across the country as a result of the war, which is meant to restore power to Hadi. A staunch ally of Riyadh, Hadi resigned from the presidency last year and then fled to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has failed to prevail in Yemen despite its daily bombardments and aid and weapons from the US and UK.
In an opinion piece, the UK newspaper The Guardian described Saudi Arabia as “a regime that fits the definition of extremist if the term has any serious meaning.”
Saudi Arabia “is leading a brutal military operation in which UK-supplied aircraft, bombs and missiles are playing a major role,” the paper said.
“One side-effect of the chaos resulting from the Saudi campaign is that the local franchises of al-Qaeda and Isis (Daesh) are now thriving as never before,” it added.
Al-Qaeda in Yemen “as the group’s most dangerous branch, now controls a 340-mile-long mini-state along Yemen’s southern coast,” according to The Guardian.