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Yemen peace committee negotiates with the Houthis

THE LEVANT  -A committee appointed by Yemen’s presidency to mediate a ceasefire in the northern Al-Jawf province between the army and allied tribes on one hand and Zaidi Houthi militants (branch of Shia Islam) on the other was reassigned to try to restore calm in the volatile province, a tribal source said Sunday.

President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi ordered the reassignment of the committee while adding Jawf governor Mohamed Al-Sherif, Marib governor Sultan Al-Aradah and military police chief Awad Farid to its line-up, the source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Levant.

The committee would try to mediate a ceasefire and enforce an earlier truce deal that was signed earlier this month between the army and allied tribes on one hand and  Houthi militants, he added.

Clashes flared up again in the restive province on Friday, one day after the mediation committee declared failure to consolidate the ceasefire and withdrew from the disputed areas.

At least 15 Yemeni tribesmen were killed over Friday and Saturday in clashes with Houthi militants in the northeast of the country, an official source said.

“Dozens were killed in clashes between the Houthi militants and tribesmen in Al-Safraa area on the border between Al-Jawf and Maarib provinces,” the source told The Levant on condition of anonymity.

“At least 15 tribesmen were among the deaths,” he added.

Clashes are still raging in the region, but casualties are yet to be determined,  the source said.

Committee member Mohamed Daraan blamed the Houthi group for the deadlock, saying it “repeatedly stalled a deal.”

Clashes first erupted in Al-Jawf between Houthis and local tribesmen in April, resulting in casualties on both sides.

A few weeks ago, the mediation committee succeeded in forging a temporary ceasefire, but this proved short-lived.

Al-Jawf is strategically important in that it is located near Yemen’s eastern Maarib province, the center of the country’s oil production.

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