AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni government, local officials and displaced people on Monday welcomed the Saudi initiative to halt the war in Yemen, and called on the Houthis to accept it and end more than six years of conflict.
Yemen’s Foreign Ministry said the Saudi plan is “compatible with” the Yemeni government’s repeated calls for peace and an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people. It blamed the Iran-backed Houthis for the failure of previous peace plans.
“The Yemeni government is fully aware that ending the suffering of Yemenis will only be done by ending the coup and the war that was sparked by the Houthi militia,” the ministry said. “(The government) is committed to all peace efforts to end the coup, restore the state and reject Iran’s destructive project in Yemen.”
The war in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Houthis stormed the capital, Sanaa. They placed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest and overthrew his government. The conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives, destroyed state institutions and, according to the UN, created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The effects of the war and Houthi oppression forced tens of thousands of Yemenis in Houthi-controlled regions to flee their homes. They are now living in displacement camps in areas under government control.
Abu Omer and his large family fled the fighting in the northern province of Al-Jouf early last year. They are now living in a camp in the central city of Marib. He said he hopes the Saudi initiative will end the war, and urged the warring factions to cease hostilities so that his family can go home.
“This is good news and all people must accept it,” he told Arab News. “I hope to return to my home when the Houthis leave our area.”
Health officials in Yemen have also called for a halt to the fighting across the country so that they can work to contain a new wave of COVID-19 infections that has started to claim dozens of lives in the past few days.
Ishraq Al-Subaee, a spokeswoman for the Aden-based National Coronavirus Committee, called on the warring factions to accept the Saudi peace initiative to help relieve the pressure on health services in Yemen.
“We (support) the peace initiative and calls for stopping the war in Yemen,” she told Arab News. “We want to confront the second wave of coronavirus that has spread quickly in the country.”
She added that the war has devastated the Yemeni economy and health service, and is responsible for creating a malnutrition crisis.
Analysts said that the Saudi initiative leaves no room for maneuver for the Houthis, who have long refused to accept any peace deal that does not include the reopening of Sanaa airport and Hodeidah seaport, among other things. Saleh Al-Baydani, a Yemeni political analyst, told Arab News that there is no excuse for rejecting the deal because it meets all of these requirements.
“The initiative shows the international community who is the party that obstructs peace efforts in Yemen,” Al-Baydani said. “The international community should exert real pressure on this militia that has held millions of Yemenis hostage.”
The Houthis have rejected or breached previous peace agreements and initiatives, said Yasser Al-Yafae, a Yemeni political analyst in the southern city of Aden. Therefore they might try to disrupt the latest plan by launching drone and missile strikes on targets inside and outside of Yemen if the international community does not intervene, he warned.
“Without real international pressure on them, the Houthis could foil this initiative like what they did with previous peace efforts,” Al-Yafae told Arab News.