x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

GCC reopens stalled Yemeni crisis talks

Secretary general tight-lipped about Sana’a meeting but spokesman says ruling party and its allies keen that the plan 'ends the crisis rather than creates a new crisis..

SANA'A // Abdullatif al Zayani, the secretary general of the Gulf Co-operation Council, yesterday opened talks in the Yemeni capital in an attempt to resurrect a GCC-brokered deal to solve the country's political crisis.

Mr al Zayani, who arrived in Sana'a on Saturday for a three-day visit, met the representatives of the ruling General People's Congress, said Tarik al Shami, the party spokesman.

Mr al Shami refused to say what was discussed during the meeting but he said the ruling party and its allies were keen that the plan "ends the crisis rather than creates a new crisis".

He said they were seeking a way to end the months of protests and military defections.

Leaders of the main opposition coalition, known as Joint Meeting Parties, did not meet Mr al Zayani but continue to insist that President Ali Abdullah Saleh sign the deal as it was approved in April. The deal stalled after he refused to sign and, last week, GCC-member Qatar withdrew support of the plan because of Mr Saleh's delay in signing.

"It is already dead and no longer a GCC plan after the withdrawal of Qatar. After the passing of more than a month since it was announced, it is no longer a solution," said Mohammed al Sabri, a member of the opposition.

Despite the withdrawal of Qatar, the other GCC members seem committed to the transition plan, which is backed by the United States and the European Union.

Mr al Zayani said the GCC would continue working on a solution that was accepted by all parties.

"The issue of Yemen has the highest priority in the GCC. We will continue our efforts until we reach a solution acceptable to everyone for maintaining civil peace, security and safety in Yemen," said Mr al Zayani, according to Saba state news agency.

Both the government and opposition initially accepted the GCC plan, which called for Mr Saleh to resign and hand power to his vice president within 30 days of signing the proposal. The deal began to unravel, however, when the president said he would only sign as a head of the party rather than as head of the state.

The deal offers Mr Saleh and his inner circle, including relatives who run branches of the security and military forces, immunity from prosecution.

Ahmed al Zurkah, an independent analyst and writer, said there was no possibility for the plan to succeed even if it was signed by both parties unless there were guarantees and pressure from the international community and the mediators on the president.

"The GCC mediators have taken a month and a half to convince Saleh to sign the deal and have not succeeded. They are going to take several months for the implementation which is not accepted by the opposition and the protesters on the ground," said Mr al Zurkah.

malqadhi@thenational.ae