In Yemen, a truce revives hope for peace

Yemeni forces inspect what remains of two houses in Sanaa after airstrikes on March 26, 2022.

The guns fell silent in Yemen. A two-month truce came into effect on the evening of Saturday April 2 under an agreement wrested by the United Nations from pro-government forces and Houthi rebels. It is a rare ray of hope in this devastating and endless war that has lasted for almost eight years.

The Houthis, from a rebellion of Shiite origin supported by Iran, face government forces, supported since 2015 by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia which notably includes the United Arab Emirates. In this conflict which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, according to the UN, and precipitated the country on the brink of famine, two previous truces agreed in 2016 and 2017 between the belligerents had fizzled.

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This time, “the goal is to give Yemenis a much-needed break from the violence, relief from humanitarian suffering and, above all, hope that an end to this conflict is possible,” wanted to believe Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy for Yemen, on Saturday. “The fronts in the country are generally calm, the shelling has stopped and this is excellent news”, welcomed Monday evening Farea Al-Muslimi, president of the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.

A proxy war

This cessation of hostilities is the culmination of efforts by Mr. Grundberg, who has been trying for months to reach a truce and relaunch negotiations for a settlement in Yemen, where rival regional powers Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, are waging a proxy war.

Coming into force on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, it comes after intra-Emenite consultations were held on March 30 in Riyadh, in the absence of the Houthi rebels, who for the moment refuse any dialogue in the territory. “enemy”. The UN envoy had discussed separately with their representatives in Oman. Both sides have pledged to end military operations as long as the other side adheres to them.

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They agreed to halt military air, land and sea offensives in Yemen and beyond the borders. This should allow the entry of 18 oil tankers into Hode├»da, the country’s largest port located on the Red Sea – whose facilities are essential for the delivery of humanitarian aid – and commercial flights access to the airport in the capital, Sanaa. Two cities controlled by the rebels.

The Arab coalition, which controls Yemen’s air and maritime space, has so far only allowed UN flights to land in Sanaa. One “blockade” denounced for a long time by the Houthis, who demand its lifting before any start of political negotiation.

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