JEDDAH: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on Friday urged Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen to “embark on the path” toward a political solution to the country’s conflict.
The two leaders welcomed Thursday’s agreement reached at UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden for a cease-fire and troop withdrawals by both sides from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
“The Kingdom remains engaged in the search for a political solution in Yemen that guarantees the security and stability of the country,” the king and the crown prince said.
Prince Mohammed had exerted “great personal efforts” to ensure the success of the talks in Sweden, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said.
A “robust and competent monitoring regime” was required in Hodeidah to oversee compliance with the cease-fire, UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Friday.
Such a regime “is not just essential, it is also urgently needed and both parties have told us they would very much welcome it and indeed depend on it,” Griffiths said. UN officials were already planning its deployment, which will require a Security Council resolution,.
Retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert will lead the monitoring component of the agreement, which took effect on Thursday when the deal was published.
He will arrive in a few days. “Being present in the field soon is an essential part of the confidence that needs to go with the implementation of this agreement,” Griffiths said.
The council was already discussing a British-drafted resolution to enshrine five requests made by UN aid chief Mark Lowcock, including a truce around facilities needed for aid and commercial imports, and diplomats said it would now be reworked to endorse the agreement reached in Sweden.
“We hope to be able to work expeditiously with colleagues to bring about a Security Council resolution that will give the firmest possible support to what has been achieved so far,” British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce told the council.
America’s UN envoy Nikki Haley warned that the Security Council would be watching. “We must be ready to act if one or more of the parties fails to follow through,” she said.
In Hodeidah on Friday, Yemenis were optimistic that the agreement in Sweden could bring a permanent end to the fighting.
“We are happy there will be a halt to the war. We have no jobs and are living on aid. We need help,” said Akram Ateeq, 31, who used to support his mother, wife and child by selling fish near Hodeidah harbor but has been unable to work for six months because of battles on the outskirts of the city.
Iman Azzi, a teacher in her fifties, said: “We are happy about the cease-fire but are worried that the fighters will not abide by it. The war has destroyed us. We want to live.”