Yemeni women carry jerrycans to fill them with water from a public tap amid an acute shortage of water supply to houses in the capital Sanaa.


Yemen’s government yesterday dismissed as a “manoeuvre” the Houthis’ acceptance of a UN-sponsored peace plan and demanded that the Iran-backed group hand back territory it has seized since last year.
The Houthis, who control much of Yemen along with the party of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, had said on Wednesday they had officially informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of their readiness to join talks to end more than six months of fighting in which more than 5,000 people have died.
Asked about the overture from the Houthi-Salah camp, however, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s press secretary, Mokhtar Alrahbi, said: “The government’s position is unchanged. There must be an announcement of willingness to implement all articles of the (UN) resolution without any changes.”
“We are ready to go to any talks after a clear acceptance of the implementation of the UN resolution,” Alrahbi said, adding that the Houthi and Saleh acceptance had come with conditions.
“We consider this (Houthi acceptance) a manoeuvre, especially after the painful strikes they received,” said Alrahbi, referring to the advances by the coalition east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa and the capture of the Bab al-Mandab strait in south-western Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi view the Houthis as proxies for non-Arab Iran and regard Saleh as a spoiler trying to undermine a political accord that allowed him to step down following months of protests in 2011.
The coalition has made progress on the battlefield in recent weeks, giving Hadi little incentive to deal with the Houthis.
In their letter to UN chief Ban last week, the Houthis accepted an April UN Security Council resolution calling for them to quit Yemeni cities.
They also urged Ban to convene talks on a seven-point peace plan proposed by the UN in talks in Oman last month.
Sources close to the Houthis have said that diplomats from the European Union helped to draft the Houthi letter to Ban to try to overcome any objections from Hadi to resuming the talks.
Hadi, in a letter of his own to Ban dated October 5 and obtained by Reuters, said his administration was ready “for a peaceful solution and to resume political consultations”.
But he said this willingness “hinged only on the side which carried out the coup (Houthis-Saleh) to commit to implement” the UN Security Council resolution, which he said provided the basis for any political dialogue.
The UN says more than 5,000 people have been killed so far in the Yemeni conflict and has expressed alarm over a recent surge in civilian casualties.