Truce between Iranian-backed Houthis, Saudi-led coalition expired Sunday
On Saturday, as the negotiations faltered, the Houthis issued a demand that all oil companies operating in Yemen stop extracting oil for export
A U.N.-led truce in Yemen between a Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore the internationally recognized government and the Iran-supported Houthi rebels expired on Sunday, with the Houthis calling the negotiations a “dead end.”
Discussions over extending the truce continued even through Saturday; the Yemen foreign minister stated that “the government made many concessions to extend the truce” but ultimately the Houthis did not agree to the extension.
U.N. Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said in a statement that he “regrets that an agreement has not been reached,” following a comment on Tuesday stating that the risk of a return to war in Yemen “is real.”
“We are at a crossroads where the risk of a return to war is real and I am urging the parties to choose an alternative that prioritizes the needs of the Yemeni people,” Grundberg said Tuesday.
In his statement, Grundberg thanked the internationally recognized government for “engaging positively” in the negotiations and added a call to the leaders of each side “to fulfill their obligation to the Yemeni people to pursue every avenue for peace.”
Yemen has been at war since 2014, when the Houthis took the capital of Sanaa, as well as most of northern Yemen, forcing the government into exile. In early 2015, the Saudi-led coalition entered the war to bring the internationally recognized government back into power.
On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told both sides that “the United Nations will spare no efforts to support the parties in this endeavor” of negotiating a “settlement to end the conflict.”
Yemen Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak was quoted by a pan-Arab satellite channel, Al-Hadath, that the Houthis had “obstructed the ceasefire and gone against the interest of the Yemeni people,” reports The Guardian.
In turn, the Houthis blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the demise of the negotiations, saying they themselves had “exercised restraint.”
“Unfortunately, it became clear that the aggression countries, after they had exhausted all their cards, had no choice but to target the livelihood of the Yemeni people as the easiest way to bring the people to their knees and use it as a military tactic and a war tool to pressure them,” said the Houthis’ negotiating delegation.
The Houthis also accused the coalition of not wanting peace.
“It became clear that their desire is not peace as much as it is to keep the countries of aggression away from the repercussions of the war and direct targeting, and besiege them inside Yemen, and to transfer the war to the economic field, and the continuation of their siege and the imposition of unjust restrictions on the Yemeni people to prevent access to their legal and humanitarian entitlements,” they said.
The Houthis argued that the collapse of the negotiations gave them the right to “defend themselves and their rights.”
On Saturday, as the negotiations faltered, the Houthis issued a demand that all oil companies operating in Yemen stop extracting oil for export.
“We will take all strict measures to prevent the continuation of looting of Yemeni sovereign wealth in accordance with international laws,” said the Houthi oil minister. “The coalition of aggression and mercenaries looted the country’s wealth, and they should take the warning of the armed forces seriously.”
Additionally, the Houthis said that all companies in areas of Yemen not under Houthi control – whether local or foreign-operated – would have to stop operating, as they were “tampering with the wealth of the Yemeni people and looting their capabilities.”
Furthermore, shipping companies that planned to transport goods to countries belonging to the Saudi-led coalition were told to keep abreast of warnings that the Houthis would issue after the expiration of the truce.
Both sides reportedly have broken the truce multiple times.