CAIRO (AP) — Yemen’s warring parties will meet in Sweden this week for another attempt at talks aimed at halting their catastrophic 3-year-old war, but there are few incentives for major compromises, and the focus is likely to be on firming up a shaky de-escalation.

Saudi-led coalition backed forces patrol Mocha, Yemen. Envoys from Yemen’s warring parties are headed to Sweden for another round of peace talks to stop the three-year-old war, but with few incentives to compromise, expectations are low for little more than improving a faltering de-escalation.

No rapid progress

U.N. officials say they don’t expect rapid progress toward a political settlement, but hope for at least minor steps that would help to address Yemen’s worsening humanitarian crisis. Both the internationally-recognized government, which is backed by a U.S.-sponsored and Saudi-led coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels say they are striving for peace. A Houthi delegation arrived in Stockholm late Tuesday, accompanied by U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths. The government delegation and the head of the rebel delegation were heading to Sweden on Wednesday.

Prisoner swap

Confidence-building measures before the talks included a prisoner swap and the evacuation of wounded rebels for medical treatment. The release of funds from abroad by Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to pay state employees in rebel-held territory is also in the works.

Yemeni scholar Hisham Al-Omeisy, who has written extensively about the conflict, said the talks would focus on «de-escalation and starting the political process.» «It’s not much, but given the humanitarian situation and toxic political atmosphere currently prevalent in Yemen, it’s better than nothing.»

The conflict began with the Houthi takeover of the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen in 2014. The Saudi-led coalition went to war with the rebels the following March. The war has claimed at least 10,000 lives, with experts estimating a much higher toll. Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties, and the Houthis have fired long-range missiles into Saudi Arabia and targeted vessels in the Red Sea.

Worst humanitarian crisis

The fighting in Yemen has generated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program, David Beasley, said Tuesday that 12 million people suffer from «severe hunger.»

«I’ve heard many say that this is a country on the brink of catastrophe,» Beasley said. «This is not a country on the brink of a catastrophe. This is a country that is in a catastrophe.» The mounting humanitarian needs, and outrage over the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, have galvanized international support for ending the war. The United States has called for a cease-fire and reduced some of its logistical aid for the coalition. Iran has also signaled support, urging all sides «to have constructive and responsible participation in the talks.»

But previous peace efforts have failed, with neither side willing to compromise. Saudi Arabia is unlikely to tolerate what it views as an Iranian proxy on its doorstep, and the Houthis have little incentive to withdraw from the capital and other territories they have captured and held at great cost. Other armed groups taking part in the chaotic civil war, including southern separatists and local militias, will not be taking part in this week’s talks.

At the same time, the two main parties could see the other as weakened, tempting them to make maximalist demands. Saudi Arabia has come under heavy U.S. pressure since the killing of Khashoggi, and the Houthis are under intense financial strain.
«I don’t expect much from this round,» said Baligh al-Makhlafy, a Yemeni pro-government analyst attending the talks as a technical consultant. «Maybe there’ll be some more exchange of prisoners or some progress on the economy, but I don’t think the Houthis will leave Hodeida peacefully. They believe they have a powerful card there, reports Associated Press from Cairo.

Follow Brian Rohan on Twitter at . Photo by foreign minister Margot Wallstrøm is taken by gov. Sweden(

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  1. Nils Petter Tanderø

    Jemen togs upp i FN:s säkerhetsråd på svenskt initiativ
    På svenskt initiativ diskuterar FN: säkerhetsråd i dag den politiska och humanitära krisen i Jemen. Sverige arbetar aktivt i olika fora för att uppmärksamma krisen i Jemen och bidra till en lösning, skriver utrikesminister Margot Wallström och Isabella Lövin, minister för internationellt utvecklingssamarbete och klimat, skrev i 2017. (Editor Nordic News)

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