Saudi Arabia announces new ceasefire initiative in Yemen

Saudi Arabia announces new ceasefire initiative in Yemen

Saudi Arabia offered a new peace initiative to Houthi rebels in Yemen on Monday that would include a ceasefire supervised by the United Nations and the re-opening of Sana’a airport, said Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan.

“We announce an initiative to end the crisis and reach a comprehensive political solution, which includes a comprehensive ceasefire under the supervision of the United Nations,” he told a press conference.

The ceasefire would start immediately if the Houthi rebels, who control the capital, Sana’a, and other northern areas, accept it.

Yemen has been roiled by a devastating power struggle since late 2014 that pitches the Saudi-backed Yemeni government against Iran-linked Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition fighting the Houthis since March 2015.

Responding to the ceasefire announcement, Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdul-Salam dismissed the initiative on Twitter.

He said any initiative that “separates the humanitarian side from any military or political bargain” is neither serious nor new.

“We confirm our stance that any initiative that ignores the humanitarian side is not serious,” Abdul-Salam was quoted by pro-Houthi television al-Masirah as saying.

“Ending the blockade does not need an initiative and bargaining with the humanitarian file is a crime against an entire people,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is required to stop the aggression and lift the blockade … not to put forward ideas that were previously discussed.”

The coalition announced a unilateral ceasefire last year for a few months. However, both sides have intensified attacks on each other in recent months.

The initiative announced Monday marks the first time Saudi Arabia has offered to allow Sana’a airport to operate again since it was closed to commercial flights in August 2016 by the Saudi-led alliance.

Opening the airport in Sana’a has been a demand by the Houthis since 2018 UN-brokered talks in Sweden.

“The Kingdom calls on the Yemeni government and the Houthis to accept the initiative, which gives the Houthis a chance to … halt the Yemeni bloodshed and address the economic and humanitarian conditions of which Yemeni people are suffering, and to become partners in achieving peace,” Faisal said.

He also urged the Houthis to put the interests of the Yemeni people above the Iranian interests in the region.

Faisal added that Saudi Arabia is committed to working with Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy to Yemen, to put an end to the crisis.

Arab countries welcomed the Saudi initiative and announced their support for it.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said the initiative emanates from Saudi Arabia’s keenness to stop the bloodshed and suffering of the Yemeni people, and it is in support of the efforts of the UN and US envoys to Yemen to help them reach a comprehensive political solution.

Kuwait welcomed the peace plan and called on Yemeni parties to fully adhere to the initiative to reach the desired political solution.

Jordan said the initiative is a practical step in efforts aimed at ending the crisis and its catastrophic humanitarian repercussions.

The conflict has pushed Yemen, already one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, to the verge of famine and devastated the country’s health facilities.

The post Saudi Arabia announces new ceasefire initiative in Yemen appeared first on Vanguard News.


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