Muscat Talks on Yemen Conclude Without Swapping Prisoners

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-07-07 06:28 PM UTC


The seven-day UN-sponsored talks on Yemen ended in Muscat yesterday without reaching tangible results on the swap of prisoners. The parties to the conflict in Yemen, the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group and the Yemeni government confirmed the end of this round of negotiations, saying that another round of dialogue will resume within two months.

The talks, which began on June 30, aimed to end the years-long misery of captives in the jails of both sides. However, they failed to achieve this, which prolongs the suffering of detainees and the forcibly disappeared persons and their families.

Though the talks led to no prisoner swap, Yahya Kazman, head of the government delegation to the Muscat consultations, said they achieved success.

He stated, “The government delegation in this round succeeded in getting the Houthi consent to release Muhammad Qahtan, which is the most important point for which the delegation came to Muscat.”

According to Kazman, the Houthis agreed to release Qahtan, a senior member of Yemen’s Islah Party, for fifty Houthi prisoners. He did not say when this will happen. The Houthis detained Qahtan in 2015 in Sanaa.

The head of the Houthi National Committee for Prisoners, Abdul Qadir Al-Murtada, said yesterday, “We completed the round of negotiations on the prisoner file under the auspices of the United Nations. Some points were agreed upon, the most important of which was resolving the problem regarding Muhammad Qahtan and exchanging some prisoner lists.”

Due to time constraints, according to Al-Murtada,  the negotiations will resume within two months.

The two sides describe the outcome of the talks as positive. However, there has been an angry reaction by multitudes of Yemenis, especially the families of prisoners. The plight of prisoners is not one month or one week old.

The families of prisoners say it has been several years since their loved ones were thrown into jail, and there is no justification for delaying the release of all captives.

The outcome of the Muscat talks has also caused a sense of frustration among Yemenis. Majed, a political science student in Sanaa, told Sheba Intelligence there is no sign that the warring sides are heading towards peace.

“Every party wants to impose his solutions and ideas, and they use talks to achieve some goals without paying attention to the real suffering of the people. This means the suffering of war prisoners and all Yemeni civilians will linger,” Majed said.

During previous negotiations in Stockholm in 2018, the delegations of the government and the Houthi group submitted lists of more than 15,000 prisoners and detainees. In April last year, the Yemeni government and the Houthi group agreed on a prisoner swap, releasing about 900 prisoners from both sides.