Not soon after both sides in the seven-year conflict in Yemen had agreed to respect a two-month truce – coinciding with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan – were hopes shattered with both sides blaming the other for breaching the ceasefire, according to one report.
There was no word on whether the fighting continued or subsided again.
On Friday, United Nations special envoy Hans Grundberg said that the truce would go into effect on Saturday and could potentially be renewed if both sides agree. The ceasefire was expected to halt all military activity inside Yemen, as well as along Yemen’s shared border with Saudi Arabia.
“The parties accepted to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders; they also agreed for fuel ships to enter into Hodeidah ports and commercial flights to operate in and out of Sanaa airport to predetermined destinations in the region,” Grundberg said in an official statement.
“The aim of this truce is to give Yemenis a necessary break from violence, relief from the humanitarian suffering and most importantly, hope that an end to this conflict is possible,” Grundberg said.
The intractable conflict between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi militia has claimed tens of thousands of lives and pushed millions of civilians into deep poverty in the impoverished Arab country. The Yemen crisis has been described as one of the world’s largest current crises with around two-thirds of the Yemenis, amounting to 20 million people, in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Saudi Arabia, which has been leading an Arab coalition that backs the formal Yemeni government, welcomed the UN announcement of the truce.
In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “appreciated the efforts” of the UN envoy and stressed that the mutually agreed truce “comes in the content of the Saudi initiative to put an end to the Yemeni crisis and reach a comprehensive political solution, announced in March 2021,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Iranian regime, which backs the anti-government Houthi terrorist militia, officially also welcomed the truce in the war-torn country.
“Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh expressed hope that the move could be a prelude to a complete lifting of a blockade and a permanent establishment of a ceasefire in order to find a political solution to the Yemen crisis,” Iranian state media reported.
Even with a truce, significant challenges remain. The Yemeni government side demands that the Houthis lift their siege of Yemen’s third-largest city Taiz, saying it constitutes a “form of warfare.” After repeated failures to capture the city, the Houthis have effectively laid siege to Taiz, which has had a dramatically detrimental impact on the local civilian population.
Col. Abdul Al-Baher, a Yemeni army officer, expressed some optimism concerning the situation in Taiz.
“There is relative calm on all fronts here in Taiz,” Al-Baher told Arab News.
However, even if the truce is prolonged, the costly task of rebuilding Yemen remains. The UN recently estimated that some $4.3 billion was urgently needed to help 17 million Yemeni people across the devastated country. The protracted conflict has largely prevented international aid from reaching millions of Yemeni civilians suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
The conflict in Yemen has implications for the entire Middle East. The Houthis have increasingly used Yemeni territory for launching drone and missile attacks against Sunni Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In late March, the Houthis launched an assault on Saudi oil facilities in the city of Jeddah. While there were no casualties, the attack has raised international fears of a deepening energy crisis amid Russia’s energy standoff with the European Union member states.