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A Saudi-Omani delegation is set to travel next week to Yemen for peace talks with Houthi officials, two anonymous sources told Reuters on Friday.
The goal of the talks is to form a permanent ceasefire between Saudi Arabia and the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, with Oman mediating.
The talks come after Iran and Saudi Arabia—who have been on opposites sides for years in the Yemen conflict—recently agreed to renew their relationship with China facilitating the beginning of the restoration process.
Iran agreed last month to stop supplying weapons to the Houthis in Yemen as part of that deal. The two sides also agreed to reopen embassies and missions.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been leading a proxy war in Yemen for years, with Tehran supporting the Houthis, who have frequently attacked or claimed to have attacked Saudi oil infrastructure in recent years.
Fighting in Yemen has been ongoing for over seven years after the Iran-affiliated Houthis overturned the elected president, prompting Saudi Arabia to wage war on the rebel group. In response, the Houthis have made Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities their preferred target of attacks.
With Iran halting its weapon supplies to the Houthis, the latter could be forced to seek an agreement to end the years-long conflict.
The ongoing conflict has hovered over the oil industry for years, with the Iran-backed Houthis launching a drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities in the east, cutting Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production by roughly 50%--or 5% of the world’s total production at the time.
As recently as November, the Houthi rebels attacked a ship at the al Dhabba oil terminal in Yemen, threatening to increase the severity of Yemen’s fuel shortages. The attack was part of an escalation of attacks after a failed renewal of the previous ceasefire in Yemen.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.
Oman has a long history of successful mediations having hosted the secret negotiations between the US during the administration of former President Barak Obama and Iran paving eventually the way for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran which former President Trump reneged on prompted by Israel.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert