Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud announced a new plan to end hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The plan was later presented to both the Saudi-backed and internationally recognized Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.
The Yemeni government, UN and US officials have supported the Saudi initiative; however, the Houthis have expressed disapproval of the plan, saying it does not go far enough in meeting their demands.
The plan would lift some restrictions on the Sanaa Airport, “and allow fuel and food imports through Hodeidah port” in the Houthi controlled region, said Reuters. It would also set up a “joint account” at the Central Bank of Yemen for the Yemeni government and Houthis “to pay civil servants and fund other programs” with revenues collected from the port, the Associated Press reported officials saying.
The Houthis have demanded the “blockade” of both the airport and port be fully lifted. The Saudis meanwhile do not want to risk giving the Houthis greater access to “weapons”.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels had recently “stepped up a campaign of drone and missile attacks targeting the kingdom’s [Saudi Arabia’s] oil sites,” the Associated Press reported. The Saudi-led coalition meanwhile has continued to launch airstrikes in what it claims is retaliation for Houthi aggression.
Prince Faisal was reported saying the “political negotiations between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis would be restarted,” though both “Yemeni sides” must agree to the cease-fire plan in order for it to take effect.
Saudi Arabia had previously called for a two-week ceasefire last April. It later said it would agree to a “UN proposal for a nationwide ceasefire” in exchange for a “buffer zone” along its border with Yemen, in November. Neither initiative proved successful.
The State Department said that Secretary Blinken and Prince Faisal, in a call earlier Monday, “discussed their close cooperation to support the efforts of UN Special Envoy Griffiths and U.S. Special Envoy Lenderking to end the conflict in Yemen, starting with the need for all parties to commit to a ceasefire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid”. While the U.S. is no longer supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, it remains committed to Saudi Arabia’s security.
The Saudi-led coalition and Houthis have blamed each other for what is considered ‘the worst humanitarian crisis in the world’ in which “80 percent of the population is reliant on aid”. The conflict between the two factions will enter its sixth year on March 26.