According to London-based Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal, Riyadh does not discuss its existing engagement of the Houthis with the “weak” pro-Hadi regime.
“Saudi Arabia is trying to find an exit from the trap it fell into,” Mohammed Ali, a journalist and commentator from the southwestern city of Ta’izz, told MEE.
Riyadh has admitted having an “open channel” with the Yemeni movement to negotiate an end to the conflict.
Last month, the Associated Press reported that Saudi Arabia and the Houthis have been holding “indirect, behind-the scenes talks” mediated by by Oman.
The talks reportedly began in September after a Houthi attack on the world’s largest crude oil facility in Saudi Arabia temporarily impacted nearly six percent of daily global production.
The Houthis reportedly offered to stop launching attacks on Saudi targets if the kingdom ended its airstrikes in Yemen. They later unilaterally released hundreds of prisoners, while the Saudis freed 128 Yemenis on Thursday.
The Hadi regime is apparently incensed, thinking that the communication between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis is aimed at ending attacks on the kingdom.
According to an unnamed Houthi source in Sana’a cited by the Middle East Eye, the current talks are not part of the UN-brokered Stockholm agreement.
The Stockholm agreement was between the Houthis and Hadi, “but now the negotiations are between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia,” the source said.
On Tuesday, a statement carried on Saudi state media said the kingdom would ease restrictions on Yemeni airspace to allow flights out of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, which is administered by a coalition including the Houthis.
According to MEE, the agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis and lifting blockade on Yemen was reached in Oman, but Hadi’s delegates were not involved in the negotiations.
Saudi Arabia made the concession after three of its border brigades were captured by Yemenis in August and the Houthis bombed oil facilities in September, the report said.
Hadi’s deputy prime minister Abdulaziz Gubari warned Saudi Arabia last month not to sign any bilateral agreement with the Houthis.
Abdulghani Rageh, a pro-Hadi military leader in Ta’izz, said the talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis have sidelined the former Yemeni president.
“The Houthis are the winners of the talks,” he said, claiming that battles have calmed down on the Saudi borders but not on local fronts.
Mohammed Ali told MEE that Saudi Arabia prioritizes its safety and economy over all other issues.
Hadi and his regime, he said, are “only helpless followers of Saudi Arabia” and Riyadh prefers to discuss any solution with the Houthis instead of its “weak” proxies.
128 Houthi prisoners return to Yemen from Saudi Arabia: Red CrossThe International Committee of the Red Cross says it has flown home as many as 128 Houthi prisoners from imprisonment in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen in 2015 in an attempt to reinstate Hadi and eliminate the Houthis.
With those objectives appearing more elusive than ever, the only way for Hadi seems to also engage the Houthis.
However, Hadi and his high-ranking associates live outside Yemen and “none of them care about Yemenis,” Ali said.
“I hope to see Yemenis inside Yemen holding talks with the Houthis and reaching reconciliation internally. Solutions will come from within Yemen, not from another country,” he added.