A junior minister in the United Arab Emirates has stepped back from previous comments attributed to him that the country's role in the Saudi-led war in Yemen was "over". The remarks made by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Friday came as peace talks underway in Kuwait City have yet to end the war, where Shia rebels known as Houthis still hold the capital of Sanaa. I am appalled that my statement was taken out of context and misinterpreted for [an] external agenda that seek to undermine the region and the [Gulf Cooperation Council] in particular," Gargash said. Gargash's comments first came to light via a tweet on Wednesday from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,the deputy supreme commander of the country's military. Sheikh Mohammed's tweet quoted Gargash as having said the war was "over for our troops" during a private lecture at a royal gathering.
The Arab coalition battling Houthi rebels in Yemen has said that one of its warplanes had "wrongly targeted" a funeral in the capital Sanaa that killed more than 140 people, and announced disciplinary proceedings. "Because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries," an inquiry team of the Saudi-led alliance found. "Appropriate action... must be taken against those who caused the incident, and... compensation must be offered to the families of the victims." The October 8 strike prompted an international outcry and strong criticism even from Saudi Arabia's closest Western allies. The United Nations released a statement saying the UN humanitarian coordinator and the NGO community in Yemen were outraged and shocked by the strikes.
Warring factions in Yemen have exchanged accusations of violating a 72-hour ceasefire that began just before midnight on Wednesday. The Arab alliance has accused Houthi forces of breaching the truce by attacking several cities in both countries on Friday, while the rebel movement said their strikes were in response to a coalition attack in the border district of Shad. The Arab alliance said in a statement on Saudi state news agency SPA that Houthi forces used rockets, shells and snipers to attack border cities inside Saudi Arabia in the Jizan and Nijran provinces. The Saudi-led coalition also accused the Houthis of launching attacks on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and other provinces such as Taiz, Hajja, Shabwa, Mareb and Aden. The alliance said it had responded to the Houthi attacks "according to the engagement rules and continuing to exercise the highest self-restraints towards the violations of the ceasefire".
The Yemeni government has agreed to resume peace talks in Kuwait after Qatari diplomacy succeeded in convincing President Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi to get back to the negotiating table. Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul-Malik al-Mekhlafi said on Saturday that the Yemeni government will give the peace talks one last chance after receiving regional and international guarantees. Last Tuesday, the Yemeni government delegation walked out of talks in Kuwait saying rebels insist on violating UN resolutions. The UN resolution demands rebels to withdraw their troops from areas under their control, including the capital Sanaa, release political prisoners and hand over state institutions to the Hadi government, which was forced out by the rebels. The decision on Saturday came after President Hadi held talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Doha.
Yemen's Houthi rebels have left for Kuwait to resume UN-mediated talks, amid threats of a boycott by the Saudi-backed, internationally-recognised government. The negotiators, who left on Thursday, are representatives of Ansar Allah, the political arm of the rebel Houthi movement, which has controlled the capital Sanaa since 2014. Previous peace talks failed to bridge the gap between the warring parties, while a ceasefire that went into effect in April has been marred by multiple breaches from both sides. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi demands implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which stipulates the withdrawal of armed groups from all cities. The group is also pressing to transfer Hadi's presidential authorities to the new transitional government.