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Yemeni PM arrives in Cairo, as Houthi rebels convene 1st parliament session in 2 years

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr arrived in Cairo on Sunday morning to discuss ongoing developments in Yemen’s 15-month old conflict.

In a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Daghr praised Egypt’s role in supporting the legitimacy of the Hadi government, which is currently exiled in Saudi Arabia, since Houthi rebels took control of large swathes of territory in the country, including the capital Sanaa in March last year.

Egypt is part of a Saudi-led coalition that launched military operations last year against the Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthi fighters, in a move aimed at restoring President Mansur Hadi to power.

The coalition’s operations have primarily involved heavy aerial bombing campaigns by the Saudi military who say they are targeting Houthi strongholds, but have been increasingly criticized for causing large numbers of civilian casualties, many of whom have been children.

Daghr is set to meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the coming days to discuss ongoing developments in the conflict, and will deliver a personal letter from President Hadi addressed to Sisi. He will also meet with Al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb to discuss the role of the institution in the adoption of moderate religious discourse in the region.

President Sisi has said that rebel control of Yemen, located on the Horn of Africa, next to the Bab al-Mandeb strait, could affect the flow of traffic to the Suez Canal making it a regional security concern. But in several speeches he has also hinted that Egypt’s participation in the coalition is tied to loyalty to its ally, Saudi Arabia who has provided Egypt’s ailing economy with large injections of aid over the past three years.

Egypt had initially agreed to participate in the campaign for just over a month, which Reuters reported included sending several hundred ground troops to Yemen. The mandate has been repeatedly extended, most recently in January when Egypt agreed to participate for a further year.

Daghr’s visit comes off the back of last week’s UN-led talks in Kuwait that were aimed at finding a political solution to the 15-month conflict that has left over 8,000 civilians dead and tens of thousands more displaced from their homes.

No such resolution was reached, and on Saturday, against warnings from Hadi’s government, Houthi rebels held the first parliamentary session in two years in the capital Sanaa.