Yemen peace talks: Fistfight erupts among delegates as UN extends discussions

Yemen peace talks: Fistfight erupts among delegates as UN extends discussions Reuters

A fistfight among the delegates erupted on the sidelines of the Yemen peace talks in Geneva underscoring the sharp differences existing between the Shi'ite Houthis and rival factions.

Even as the UN-moderated peace negotiations are extended after the scheduled 48-hour session, the melee broke out after the anti-Houthi forces protested against the delegation.

The protesters were seen shouting "dogs" and "criminals" at the Houthi leaders, who are widely believed to be backed by Shiite-inlined Iran.

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The brawl was triggered when a protester threw a shoe targeting Hamza al-Houthi, the chief of the Houthi delegation taking part in the UN-brokered talks. Despite the brief unrest, al-Houthi remained calm throughout.

The Houthi rebels, who were behind the expulsion of the Yemeni government, are participating in the talks with the representatives of the exiled government to come up with a peaceful solution for the three-month-long raging conflict. Though the warring sides largely agree on the immediate ceasefire the specifics of a deal are being ironed out.

"We are absolutely in favour of humanitarian truce. I don't think this pause receives the approval of Saudi Arabia, after all they are aggressing us, it is up to them," said Yasser al-Ewady, a representative of Houthi-inclined Yemen's General People's Congress.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and its allied forces have been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen against Houthi rebels. The continuing turmoil has been raising serious concerns that regional powers - Shi'ite-led Iran and the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia along with other Sunni Muslim states in the region - are throwing their weight behind the Houthis and the effectively-exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

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