Saudi-Led Coalition Declares Ceasefire in Yemen

  • Turki al-Maliki cited the prevention of the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Yemen as one of the goals of the ceasefire.
  • “The parties must now utilize this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency, and make progress towards comprehensive and sustainable peace.”
  • More than 80 percent of Yemen's war-torn country is in need of humanitarian assistance.

Saudi Arabia has declared a two-week ceasefire in response to UN efforts to end years of war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is in command of a military coalition fighting Shiite Houthis in Yemen. Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the military coalition, told the Saudi state news agency that the ceasefire would begin at midnight on Thursday.

The Houthi movement (called Ansar Allah “Supporters of God”), is an Islamic religious-political-armed movement that emerged from Sa’dah in northern Yemen in the 1990s. They are of the Zaidi sect, though the movement reportedly also includes Sunnis.

He cited the prevention of the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the war-torn country of Yemen as one of the goals of the ceasefire. A spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition also spoke of the possibility of extending the ceasefire. The establishment of a temporary ceasefire, announced by the Saudi military coalition, could pave the way for negotiations between the parties to the ceasefire.

Al-Maliki said representatives of the Yemeni government, Houthi rebels and the Saudi coalition could discuss “steps to build trust”. He added that the Saudi-led coalition is determined to support the efforts of Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy to end the war in Yemen.

Griffiths himself issued a statement on Wednesday welcoming the announcement of the ceasefire by the Saudi-led military coalition. “The parties must now utilize this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency, and make progress towards comprehensive and sustainable peace,” Mr. Griffiths said.

The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.

According to the UN special envoy, the unilateral, temporary ceasefire means the cessation of all air, ground and naval operations. Griffiths, who has been trying to end the war in Yemen for more than two years, praised the ceasefire announced by Saudi Arabia and its allies, saying “the disarmament will provide the right conditions for the political process to move forward.”

The Yemeni Houthis, backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, control large parts of Yemen. Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdul Salam said on Wednesday that the Houthis had “presented their ideas and demands to the United Nations within the framework of a plan that could be the basis for political dialogue in order to end the war and the siege.”

More than 80 percent of Yemen’s war-torn country is in need of humanitarian assistance. The risk of a new outbreak of the new coronavirus in Yemen will double the country’s problems, which are deprived of medical facilities. It is predicted that the prevalence of coronavirus in Yemen will be several times higher than the global average, and that could lead to a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe in the crisis-stricken country.

The United Nations has called on the warring parties to end tensions and conflict over the outbreak of the coronavirus in Yemen. Yemen has been the scene of a bloody proxy war between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia for the past five years. According to UN estimates, by the end of 2019, about 233,000 people had been killed in Yemen during military conflicts or due to poverty and food shortages.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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