Iran welcomes UN initiative in brokering truce in Yemen

April 2, 2022 - 11:26

TEHRAN - The United Nations said all sides in Yemen’s seven-year war agreed to a two-month truce starting Saturday, a move greatly welcomed by Iran.

The truce marks a breakthrough in efforts to ease a conflict that’s triggered a humanitarian crisis in the poor Arab country.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh expressed hope that the initiative by Hans Grundberg, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy for Yemen, would lay the foundation for a “complete lifting of siege” on Yemen and “permanent ceasefire” in line with finding a “political solution” to the seven-year conflict in the country.

“We hope that on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan and with a priority to humanitarian issues and maintenance of ceasefire we will witness amelioration of humanitarian condition and exchange of prisoners of war between the warring sides,” Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has been battling Houthis in Yemen since 2015, with the war spilling into neighboring countries. The Houthis have escalated attacks on Saudi energy and military facilities in recent weeks, as well as making their first deadly attack on the United Arab Emirates this year.

Riyadh issued a blunt warning late last month that oil exports may be disrupted unless its Western allies do more to help. 

On Friday, Grundberg said that the parties had agreed “to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders.” 

Houthi spokesman and chief peace negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam welcomed the announcement, which comes as the Muslim world prepares for the Ramadan religious holiday, Bloomberg reported. 

Previous attempts to end the fighting have failed, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged the fragility of the peace effort.

The ceasefire “opens the door to addressing Yemen’s urgent humanitarian and economic needs and creates a genuine opportunity to restart Yemen’s political process,” he told reporters in New York. “These agreements are always fragile,” he said, urging parties to build on the momentum and make sure “the truce is fully respected.”

Under the terms of the ceasefire, ships carrying fuel will be able to enter the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port, while commercial flights can operate in and out of Sana’a airport to some destinations in the region.

The truce can be renewed beyond the initial two months with the consent of the parties, the UN said.

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the agreement, but said the terms of the ceasefire were just a first step. 

“The ceasefire must be adhered to, and as I have said before, it is imperative that we end this war,” Biden said in a statement on Friday that thanked Oman for helping broker the accord.