Yemen ceasefire begins amid pressure on Saudi Arabia

October 20, 2016 9:52 am

Fire and smoke rise after a Saudi airstrike last Friday hit a site on the outskirts of ’s capital, Sana’a. (Photo by AP)

A fresh ceasefire has gone into effect in Yemen, which started a minute before midnight on Wednesday, and will continue for 72 hours.
The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said all parties to the conflict have agreed that the initial time period is subject to renewal and could be extended to last longer.
The ceasefire, which was brokered by the UN, followed days of fierce clashes between Saudi-led invasion forces and Yemeni troops under the command of the Supreme Political Council.
On Tuesday, the UN special envoy for Yemen was in Moscow reviewing recent developments with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
The two diplomats reportedly discussed the chances of resolving the Yemen conflict through diplomatic channels and the role of the UN and the Security Council in supporting peace efforts.
Cheikh Ahmed met US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson earlier in London, where the Western diplomats emphasized the need for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen as well. 

(L-R) US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed make a joint statement on Yemen at Lancaster House in London on October 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi ally and former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also announced their agreement with a ceasefire.
The Houthi-run Supreme Political Council, the top governing body, welcomed the ceasefire but demanded the Saudi invaders halt attacks. It said Yemen needed an immediate, lasting and comprehensive truce without conditions.
Fighting in Yemen re-escalated after earlier peace talks, also mediated by the UN and held in Kuwait, collapsed in August.
Houthis had declared that they were ready for disarmament and withdrawal of their forces from areas under their control if a comprehensive political agreement is reached in which Hadi would have no role.
However, gunmen loyal to Hadi backed by Saudi forces have been fighting against the Houthi Ansarullah and allied army forces to restore the fugitive ex-president.
Riyadh is currently under increasing pressure from the international community as well as its allies in the West in the wake of a recent airstrike which killed more than 140 people in Sana’a.
On Wednesday, British minister for the , Tobias Ellwood, said the early October attack on a funeral was a “deliberate error” and had been ordered by Saudi rulers. 
initially denied responsibility for the fatal attack but on Saturday it finally admitted that the attack was launched by one of it warplanes, which “wrongly targeted” the funeral gathering.
The Saudi-led military campaign to restore Hadi, which started in March 2015, has killed at least 10,000 people.
The kingdom is also under pressure at home where a sense of being stuck in a quagmire is growing more than ever as Yemen’s retaliatory attacks are becoming more exact and lethal and the cost of the war is taking a crippling toll on the Saudi economy.

Sana’a: A UN-mediated truce to the war in Yemen went into effect a minute before midnight on Wednesday, hours after Saudi-led air strikes hit military bases in the capital Sana’a and rival militias battled near the border with the kingdom.
The coalition led by Saudi Arabia said in a statement it would respect the three-day truce provided its foes in Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi movement also complied, allowed aid supplies to reach combat areas and kept calm on the border.
Residents reported in the early hours of Wednesday that air raids hit several army barracks, the latest of thousands of air strikes during a 19-month military intervention by Saudi Arabia and Arab allies.
The pro-Houthi military said late on Tuesday it had fired rockets at a Saudi army base and that its forces had repelled an attempt by Saudi-backed government forces to seize an intersection connecting two far northern provinces.
Several previous ceasefires have failed to pave the way for an end to the conflict, but have significantly slowed fighting in the war which has killed at least 10,000 people.
Exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi told state agency Saba on Wednesday that he expected his foes would violate the truce.
“We don’t expect from them today anything more than prevarication and procrastination,” Hadi was quoted as saying after meeting the American and British ambassadors.
The parliament in Sana’a, in which pro-Houthi MPs hold a majority, called on Wednesday for a “full commitment” to the truce, a day after a Houthi-led political council in the capital said it would comply.
Diplomats hope the truce will be extended, opening the way for aid supplies as disease and hunger spread.
The World Health Organisation reported an outbreak of cholera in Sanaa this month and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said that the war has halved cereal production and that 1.3 million Yemeni children were acutely malnourished.
“The fighting is still going on in many areas,” the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said on Wednesday.
“As we saw in previous ceasefires, not all parties accept it … We hope that it does kick in and there is a chance that this holds and we can do more work and reach more areas.”
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