Yemen meeting backs raids, seeks safe zones 

RIYADH: Yemeni political factions voiced support Tuesday for Saudi-led forces fighting Iran-backed rebels, calling for safe zones in the war-torn nation allowing the exiled government to resume its duties.


“We support this resistance to go on fighting (rebel) forces,” President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told about 300 delegates at the close of a three-day meeting in Riyadh.

A closing statement at the conference sought quicker delivery of supplies to pro-government forces including “logistical equipment and weapons.” It also called for a safe zone where government institutions could resume their activities.

The conference attendees suggested an Arab peacekeeping force to secure Yemen’s major cities, with UN Security Council approval, Transport Minister Bader Ba-Salama said.

Hadi said “dialogue is the only way to take Yemen out of its deadlock”, but added that any talks with rebels must take into account Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls on the Houthis to relinquish territory they have seized.

A spectrum of Yemeni political parties participating in the conference, excluding Houthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh – inked what has been termed as the “Riyadh Document.”

The conciliatory conference, sponsored by the GCC to bring together different factions in the crisis-hit country, had already set the first draft of the document on Monday.

The document included articles that urge the establishment of an army, demanding from international organizations to withhold any dealings with “coup leaders,” a reference to Houthi militias.

On the humanitarian level, the document stipulates that civilians who have been affected by the war will be compensated, especially in the city of Saada, which would be rebuilt to return to its state prior to the 2004 war.

The document also requests that refugee camps be built within Yemen to host all the displaced civilians. It pledges that fast solutions will be found to solve the problems of Yemenis stranded outside their country.

The Riyadh Document requests creating new job opportunities for Yemenis in GCC countries, as well as harboring support from the international community and the GCC to build a sustainable economy and create an infrastructure for investments in Yemen.

On the military front, Yemenis in Riyadh would pledge to support their national army as protectors of the country. According to the document, the national army will incorporate the Popular Resistance.

Finally, the Riyadh Document pledged to discuss the draft of the constitution to encourage public debate and plan a referendum.