Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised the “Arabian” and “Yemeni” qualities of the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in a recent interview.
The interview was aired on the Saudi state TV on April 28 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Crown Prince’s strategic development plan “Saudi Vision 2030”.
In the interview, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, criticizes the Houthis’ alliance with Iran and their rebellion against the legitimate authorities in Yemen in 2015. However, he voiced a rare praise of the Yemeni group.
“There is no doubt that the Houthis have strong relations with the Iranian regime, but in the end the Houthis are also Yemenis and have Arabian and Yemeni tendencies, which I wish would grow in them more and more so that they would follow their interests and the interests of their homeland before anything else,” the Crown Prince said.
Bin Salman went on to stress that Saudi Arabia would not accept the presence of “militias” along its border with Yemen. He went on to call on the Houthis to join peace talks in exchange for financial support from the Kingdom.
“The offer from Saudi Arabia is a ceasefire, economic support, and everything they want in exchange for a ceasefire signed by the Houthis and them sitting at the negotiating table,” Bin Salman explained.
The Crown Prince’s remarks show a dramatic shift in Saudi Arabia’s policy towards Yemen. For the first time in five years of war, the Kingdom appears to be willing to step back.
Earlier this year, the US ceased its support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen and suspended some arms sells to the Kingdom. The Houthis stepped up their strikes on Saudi Arabia and boosted their offensive against Saudi-backed forces in the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib.
The recent developments have apparently softened the tone of Saudi Arabia. The Houthis’ are yet to respond to Bin Salman’s offer.