A piece in Monday'sNew York Times put a mildly positive spin on the conclusion of the first round of direct peace talks between the Hadi-Bahah government and the Houthi-GPC alliance, which took place in Switzerland last week. The talks did not produce any concrete outcome in terms of ending the conflict in Yemen. However, they did result in increased humanitarian access to the city of Ta'iz, which had been under a total siege by Houthi-Saleh forces, and there was a limited exchange of prisoners between the two sides. Furthermore, according to an anonymous diplomat quoted in the Times, there was a "palpable warming on a personal level between the two delegations over the course of the week." Independent journalist Nawal al-Maghafi has tweeted similar observations from the peace talks:
— Nawal Al-maghafi (@Nawalf) December 20, 2015
A previous round of talks, held in Geneva in June, collapsed without the two sides even stepping foot in the same room, so the progress achieved in this round, limited though it was, is a good start.