Yemen: Saudi-led coalition announces cease-fire

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Smoke rises above a neighborhood

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EPA

Legend

UN calls on both sides to end fighting and step up efforts to fight the coronavirus epidemic


A Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen has declared a ceasefire, officials said.

Sources told the BBC that the ceasefire will take effect on Thursday to support the UN’s efforts to end the five-year war.

The coalition, backed by western military powers, has been fighting Houthi forces aligned with Iran since March 2015.

It is not known whether Houthi forces will also observe the ceasefire.

Last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Yemenis to end the fighting and step up their efforts to fight a possible coronavirus epidemic.

He called on parts of the country to work with his special envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve nationwide de-escalation.

  • The humanitarian crisis in Yemen, close to the breaking point
  • Crisis in Yemen: why is there a war?

Griffiths welcomed the news of the ceasefire in a statement on Wednesday.

He said: “The parties must now seize this opportunity and immediately end all hostilities with the utmost urgency.”

Both parties are scheduled to participate in a video conference to discuss the ceasefire. The proposal calls for an end to all air, land and naval hostilities.

A statement by the coalition forces said: “On the occasion of the holding and success of the efforts of the United Nations envoy to Yemen and to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni brother people and to work to cope with the pandemic of corona and preventing it from spreading, the coalition announces a comprehensive ceasefire for a period of two weeks, beginning on Thursday. “

The situation in Yemen has long been described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The war has claimed the lives of many civilians and left the country on the brink of collapse.

The UN has negotiated talks in the past, but this will be the first time the coalition has announced a ceasefire across the country.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, spokesman for the Houthi movement, said his group had presented a vision to the UN that would include the end of the war and the “blockade” on Yemen.


An important step

This is the most important decision taken by Saudi Arabia to try to find a way out of its costly military campaign in Yemen.

The coalition statement suggests that its unilateral ceasefire was triggered by the very real threat posed by the coronavirus in a country with a barely functioning health system.

But another revival dates back to September when the Kingdom’s vital oil facilities were attacked in a spectacular attack allegedly committed against Iran.

Saudi Arabia has changed gears, entered into secret talks with senior Houthi officials to secure their border, end Houthi missile strikes on its territory and try to keep them away from Iran.

But in recent months, Houthi forces have continued to advance militarily, encouraging more warmongering Houthi elements.

Sources say senior Houthi leaders support a negotiated end to this war. But they also dig.

Even if the UN talks begin, it will take a long time before they end with the political solution that Yemen desperately needs.


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Media captionIn the dangerously divided “city of snipers” in Yemen

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