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Plan for peace may be nearing in Yemen


06-21-2016 10:52 BJT

More than a year of bloodshed and bombings has battered Yemen. Now a potential breakthrough in Yemen's civil war may be achieved. This week, the UN is expected to unveil a plan to end - what many analysts consider - one the world's most destabilizing regional conflicts.

A welcome sign in a country torn by violence. Hundreds of prisoners-swapped over two days. Yemen's government - and the Shiite Houthi rebels it's fighting - undertaking the largest prisoner swap since the civil war began.

"Today is the happiest day in my life, because I'm returning to my family and my city Taez. God willing we will fight until victory," said Mohammed Al-Kadahi, freed pro-government fighter.

Some of the freed prisoners may return to battle. More than 8,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015 - more than a third of them, civilians, caught in the middle - between forces loyal to the government - and those who support the Houthis.

As fighting rages on, the Houthis are holding their ground. The group has controlled the capital, Sanaa, for nearly two years.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been trying to broker a peace. He's the United Nations' Special Envoy for Yemen.

"We have made big progress, the problem now is reaching a clear political agreement to allow convergence of views," said Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN special envoy to Yemen.

After three months of talks a settlement may now be within reach. Media reports say Ahmed will present a "roadmap" to peace this week. China has been a leading voice in the talks-praised by both sides.

"There are altogether 18 countries participating in the peace talks, and we call them 'Group 18.' China is one of the 18 countries, and also one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. China has been playing a positive role in the talks," said Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi, Yemen Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister.

"We found that Chinese attitude accords with the goal of achieving peace and stability in Yemen and settling the current crisis fairly. China totally understands our demands," said Mohammed Abdu-Salam, Head of Houthis Delegation to Kuwait.

A stability that may still prove hard to come by with so many involved - including Saudi Arabia, Iran, al-Qaeda and ISIL.

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