SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — According to Nadia al-Saqqaf, a member of Yemen’s Dialogue Committee, the meeting is a ''preliminary visit'' focusing on establishing talks between the two sides and welcoming the Houthis into negotiations.
“Well, they [Houthis] haven’t made preconditions for coming to the negotiating table, but they have made 10 points or demands clear”, Saqqaf said adding that discussing their demands is the next step.
The Houthis have also described negotiations as the only way to end Yemen’s political crisis, but they have stressed that the talks should not be affected by foreign interference.
The Houthi group, led by Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, took up arms against the government of former Yemeni ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2004 after suffering years of widespread human rights violations and political and religious discrimination against their community in the north of the country.
During Saleh’s three-decade-long rule, Sa’ada and neighboring Amran province, the strongholds of the Houthis, were frequently pounded by fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
We have conducted an interview with Mohsen Saleh, professor at the Lebanese University, to hear his opinion on this issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Q: Mr. Saleh looking at that report, what awaits Yemen, the future Yemen, rather is a main question here. How valid do you see the concerns of Yemen being under the influence of Saudi Arabia and the US?
Saleh: Well it is unfortunate that the new government in Yemen is not really serious probably about this dialogue or to find a kind of equality between the certain factions in Yemen especially the Houthis.
The Houthis complained from the beginning that there is discrimination against their region and the other thing is that they are not represented very well in the government and also they complained from the foreign intervention especially from the Saudis and the Americans who are really constructing the new government and giving its orders to inside internal policies.
Now the government is having a problem with the southern part especially with al-Qaeda and the people who are fighting against the government, especially the new government and the old government, and now the Houthis they have to make sure as your reporter said, to make sure that [there is] no foreign interventions and to facilitate the way for the dialogue, they should have a kind of assurance that no discrimination against them will continue.
Q: So when you say that they have to have this assurance that there is no discrimination, that they are not going to see the violence for instance that was perpetrated against them at the time of Ali Abdullah Saleh, does that mean that if Saudi Arabia and the United States are not involved in the country’s political process that won’t happen?
Saleh: Of course any kind of Saudi especially Saudi intervention who really intervened and occupied parts of the Yemeni territories and fought against the Houthis beside the Ali Abdullah Saleh forces who tried to invade Sa’ada and this deprived part in Yemen, I guess unless they find this kind of assurance or this kind of facilitation, I guess they would be reluctant to go into such kind of dialogue. A waste of time I guess if they go to such dialogue without having a credible needs or demands. — www.shafaqna.com