Air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen have intensified after the Houthi rebels targeted several UAE sites.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is reportedly considering talks with Houthi rebels along with other Yemeni parties in Riyadh this month in a push for peace in the country, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The dialogue would potentially take place between 29 March and 7 April if the Houthis accept the invitation. The talks focus on military, political and economic aspects of the war in Yemen.
The country has been living under 11 years of instability since the Arab Spring revolution. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched military attacks in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia has long backed the internationally recognised Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government that was forced out of the capital Sanaa in late 2014. The Houthis captured the port city of Al-Hudaydah, forcing Hadi to escape to Aden.
Sources told Reuters that the invitations are going to be sent out to all parties within days, noting that Hadi, who is based in Riyadh, had already agreed to the talks.
The dialogue would see the Houthi rebels attend as “guests” of GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf at the bloc’s headquarters in Riyadh.
Reuters said that other possible locations of the meeting would be Oman, which hosts some Houthi officials, and Kuwait, given that it hosted previous dialogue in 2015.
In June last year, Yemen’s Houthi rebels announced that they were prepared to participate in negotiations in Qatar to resolve the war.
“I do not think that we have any objections to holding talks in Qatar to complete the settlement, if the leadership of these countries agree with this,” tweeted Mohamed Ali Al-Houthi, the head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee.
In March last year, Saudi Arabia announced a peace initiative that sought to end the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that the new initiative aimed to start with a “nationwide ceasefire” under the UN’s supervision.
Ceasefires had failed to bring peace into the war-ravaged country, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed.
Air strikes in Yemen intensified in January following multiple attacks claimed by the Houthi rebels. In February, the US announced the additional sale of fighter jets to the UAE, a move slammed by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), as a continuation of war.
The Council of the Arab League held an emergency meeting in January to address the Houthi rebels’ assaults on the UAE. Qatar had described the attacks “targeting civilian installations” as an act of terrorism that violates international norms and laws.
Since the beginning of the war, at least 18,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed or wounded by airstrikes in Yemen according to a UN report cited by the Associated Press (AP) in September last year. The UN has described the situation in Yemen as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.