Houthi leader hints at ‘understandings’ with Saudi Arabia


Last week, Saudi-led coalition announced prisoner swap deal with Shia group

By Zakaria al-Kammali

SANAA, Yemen – A prominent Houthi leader has hinted at “understandings” with Saudi Arabia with a view to ending the raging conflict in Yemen.

Saleh al-Sammad said that a current “state of calm” along the Yemeni-Saudi border helps pave the way for halting the war in Yemen.

“We will not turn our back to any understandings or initiatives aimed at halting the war,” Sammad wrote on his Facebook page.

Last week, a Saudi-led coalition that has been pounding Houthi positions in Yemen since 2015 announced a prisoner swap deal with the Shia group.

In a statement, the coalition said Yemeni tribal figures have sought to create a state of calm along the Saudi-Yemeni border to allow medical and aid material into Yemeni villages.

Sammad, who is a top leader in the Houthi group, claimed that the prisoner swap was initiated by the Houthis.

“We don’t mind using these initiatives to create a channel of communication with the other side to listen to their viewpoints and create mechanisms that lead to dialogue,” he said.

Yemen has remained in turmoil since September 2014, when the Houthis and allied forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his government to flee to Saudi Arabia.

According to the UN, more than 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen — about half of them civilians — since the Saudi-led coalition first began its air campaign.