Houthis, Saudi-Led Coalition Reportedly Agree to UN- Proposal for Two-Month Ceasefire in Yemen War
16:15 GMT 01.04.2022 (Updated: 16:56 GMT 01.04.2022)
The seven-year-long war in Yemen has created the world's largest humanitarian crisis, as a Saudi naval blockade has prevented food and medicine from entering the country, where a relentless bombing campaign has destroyed most of the infrastructure already. According to United Nations estimates, over 400,000 people have been killed.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has agreed to a two-month ceasefire with Ansarallah, the Zaidi rebel group better known as the Houthis. The deal was announced Friday by Hans Grundberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen.
The truce takes effect on Saturday at 19:00, according to UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on Friday evening.
The peace agreement comes two days after peace talks started in Riyadh
under the auspices of the United Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). However, it by no means the first ceasefire or attempt to reach a peace deal, which the UN has been attempting to negotiate for years. Before his untimely death in January 2020, Omani Sultan Qaboos had also attempted to negotiate peace
as a neutral actor.
However, Friday's deal has been reached without the direct presence of any Houthi delegates, as the group refuses to negotiate outside of Yemeni territory. In addition to the issue of an end to hostile actions, the two sides have discussed a large prisoner transfer that would include the release of the brother of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi by the Houthis, as well as an end to the Saudi-imposed blockade.
“The Yemen blockade is considered a military action because it was imposed by force of arms. If the siege is not lifted, the coalition’s announcement of the cessation of military operations will be meaningless,” Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthis' political bureau, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“The suffering of the Yemenis as a result of the blockade is more severe than the war itself. This means the continuation of Yemeni military operations aimed at breaking the siege," he added.
The UN has called the war the world's worst humanitarian crisis. According to UN estimates, some 400,000 Yemenis
have been killed by the war, most of whom have died due to indirect causes, such as lack of adequate food, water, medicine, and epidemic diseases like cholera and COVID-19. Millions more are judged as food insecure. The Houthis lack adequate air defense systems to hold off the Saudi Royal Air Force, which has waged an indiscriminate bombing campaign
in Yemeni cities.
The war began in March 2015, when Hadi fled to Riyadh after being ousted from the country by the ascendant Houthi movement. The Zaidi Shiite groups hails from the country's impoverished north, and their objections to Hadi's neoliberal reforms, including slashing fuel subsidies and a federalization scheme, became rallying points for a mass movement of Yemen's poor.
The Saudi-led coalition that launched a military campaign to return Hadi to power included the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Sudan, and the United States, along with several other nations. However, by 2022, all but Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had pulled out of the war. The US said it would stop selling the Saudis offensive weapons last year, but they have continued to provide air defense cover
inside Saudi Arabia against Houthi missile and drone attacks.
The US and Saudis have claimed that the Houthis are a "proxy" force for Iran, but while the US Navy has claimed to have captured weapons
shipments bound for Yemen, no proof of extensive material support sufficient to sustain the Houthi's military campaign has been demonstrated.
Despite the blockade and air campaigns, the Houthis have steadily expanded their control outward from the capital of Sana'a, limiting Hadi's government to a strip of land on the Gulf of Aden and an steadily decreasing part of Marib and Shabwa Governorates
in the country's north.