Yemen Rebels Grounded in Sanaa as Peace Talks on Hold
Yemen's Huthi rebels, expected at UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva with the government, remained grounded in Sanaa on Friday citing fears they would not be allowed to return to the capital.
The Huthis, powerful armed tribes locked in a war with Yemen's Saudi-backed government, have refused to take off from the rebel-held capital unless the UN meets their conditions, which include securing a safe return from Geneva to Sanaa for their delegation.
The peace talks, the first since 2016, had been scheduled to open Thursday but have been put on hold.
The Huthis' Supreme Revolutionary Council said Friday that they were "increasingly suspicious that the coalition intended to insult" the rebels.
It accused the Saudi-led alliance fighting on behalf of the government against the Huthis of planning to strand the rebel delegation in Djibouti, where their plane was to make a stop en route to Geneva.
The Huthis hinted they suspected a repeat of 2016, when 108 days of talks in Kuwait broke down and a rebel delegation was stranded in Oman for three months due to an air blockade, the council said in a statement on Telegram.
The Saudi-led military coalition controls the country's airspace and Sanaa international airport has been largely disused for years.
The Iran-backed Huthis have traded accusations of non-cooperation and stalling with Yemen's government.
On Thursday, the rebels said they would not send their delegation to Geneva unless the United Nations could guarantee a safe return to Sanaa.
The Huthis also demanded the evacuation of their wounded fighters from Sanaa to Oman.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have said they have granted the Huthis clearance to fly, accusing the rebels of intransigence.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher accused the rebels of "speaking no language other than force" and "using negotiations to secure more arms", in a tweet on Thursday.
Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the Yemen conflict in 2015, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.