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29 Mar, 2022 22:51

Saudi Arabia announces Yemen ceasefire

Riyadh agrees to Ramadan truce that could permanently end the seven-year war
Saudi Arabia announces Yemen ceasefire

Saudi Arabia has announced a halt to all military operations in Yemen, with the aim of reaching a permanent solution to the conflict in the neighboring country, the spokesman for the Riyadh-led coalition announced on Tuesday evening. Yemen’s Houthi rebels had offered a three-day armistice earlier, which they said could be permanent if the Saudis agreed.

“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition hereby announces cessation of military operations in Yemen beginning at (0600) Wednesday, March 30 2022,” the coalition spokesman, Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki, announced just before midnight.

Al-Maliki said this was done at the request of Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), “with the view of creating propitious conditions needed for successful consultations and a favorable environment for the Holy Month of Ramadan to make peace, and achieve security and stability in Yemen.”

The coalition will “abide by this cessation, and undertake all necessary steps and procedures to ensure its success,” the general added.

Al-Maliki’s announcement comes three days after the Houthi rebels in control of the Yemeni capital offered a three-day truce they said could become permanent if the Saudi-led coalition was willing. 

“This is a sincere invitation and practical steps to rebuild trust and take all the sides from the arena of talks to the arena of acts,” the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council president, Mahdi al-Mashat Mashat, said on Saturday in a speech broadcast on Yemeni television. The Houthis would stop their missile and drone strikes and expect the Saudis to halt their bombing campaign and unblock Yemeni ports, Mashat said.

His proposal came after a devastating Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco oil depots in Jeddah on March 25, and a reprisal coalition bombing of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa and the port of Hodeidah.

In the ceasefire announcement, Al-Maliki pointed out that the Saudi-led coalition “reaffirms its steadfast position in supporting the legitimate government of Yemen in both its political positions and military procedures and measures,” referring to the Riyadh-backed rival of the Houthis. So while it is possible that the Ramadan truce can become permanent, the dispute underlying the seven-year conflict remains unresolved.

Riyadh and its allies launched an air war in Yemen in March 2015, followed up by a ground campaign later, seeking to restore the Saudi-backed president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had been ousted by the Houthis. The coalition has accused the Shia group of being proxies of Iran, which Tehran has denied.

The UN has estimated over 400,000 Yemenis have died due to the war, many of them children under the age of five who perished due to starvation and disease caused by the blockade.