Yemen truce goes into effect 

April 3, 2022 - 16:21

TEHRAN- Yemen’s armed forces have announced their commitment to a temporary truce with Saudi Arabia which has been waging war on its neighbor for more than seven years.

The spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, says "according to what was agreed upon with the national delegation in Muscat, we announce the implementation into force of the humanitarian and military truce and our commitment to a comprehensive cessation of military operations as long as the other party adheres to it."

Saudi Arabia also declared it’s a commitment to the ceasefire despite reports emerging that Saudi forces launched an artillery attack on the Yemeni border region of Sa’ada killing three civilians. 

In a statement, the UN special envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg said “the two-month truce started at 7 pm (1600 GMT) tonight. As of tonight [Saturday], all offensive ground, aerial and naval military operations should cease” 

Grundberg had earlier announced the agreement from Amman, Jordan, after meeting separately with both sides from the brutal war on Yemen. He said he hoped the truce would be renewed after two months with both parties consent.

According to Grundberg, the two sides have also agreed to another meeting to open roads in Taez city along with other provinces.

“The success of this initiative will depend on the warring parties’ continued commitment to implementing the truce agreement with its accompanying humanitarian measures,” said the Swedish diplomat.

He also expressed hope “the goodwill that we saw from all sides in public will translate into long-term de-escalation of inflammatory media rhetoric and hate speech.”

"The aim of this truce is to give Yemenis a necessary break from violence, relief from the humanitarian suffering, and most importantly hope that an end to this conflict is possible," Grundberg added.

The UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, says he hoped the truce would pave the way toward peace but noted “we know that these agreements are always fragile.”

“You must take that momentum in order to make sure that this truce is fully respected and that it is renewed and… that a true political process is launched,” he said.

“This demonstrates that even when things look impossible when there is the will to compromise, peace becomes possible,” the UN chief added.

UN spokesperson Farhan Haq says the “warring sides” agreed to halt all offensive military, air, ground, and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders.

Neighboring countries have also welcomed the ceasefire which comes with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Iran welcomed the UN-brokered truce and called for a negotiated solution to the seven-year conflict.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh expressed hope that the move could be a prelude to a complete lifting of a blockade and a permanent establishment of a ceasefire in order to find a political solution to the Yemen crisis.

Iraq welcomed the truce saying a political solution is the only way to end the war in the country, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The United Arab Emirates has also welcomed the UN announcement. 

The truce will allow for shipments of vital fuel supplies to arrive in Yemen’s key port city of Hodeida and for the partial resumption of passenger flights to operate from Sana’a international airport.

Under the terms, eighteen fuel ships will be allowed into Hodeida and two commercial flights a week can resume in and out of the capital Sana’a; both had been key demands of the Yemeni negotiating delegation before they entered the peace talks.

Yemen declared its full readiness for what Sana’a says it expects to be a  humanitarian and military truce, and their commitment to a comprehensive cessation of military operations as long as the other party adhered to this also.

The head of the national negotiating delegation, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, welcomed the announcement by the UN envoy to Yemen of a ceasefire under the auspices of the United Nations for a period of two months. 

He says Yemen will halt military operations and Sana’a International Airport would be opened for a number of flights, as well as the opening of the port of Hodeida to oil derivatives for a number of ships during the two months of the truce.

Last week, Yemeni forces offered Riyadh their own unilateral initiative, which included a three-day suspension of cross-border retaliatory attacks on Saudi Arabia and fighting inside Yemen. 

The Yemeni offer came shortly after the country’s armed forces conducted a series of wide-scale retaliatory attacks targeting key Saudi oil facilities deep inside the Kingdom in a bid to break Saudi Arabia’s siege on Yemen. 

Sana’a did warn Riyadh to accept the offer or face dire consequences of wider retaliatory operations. 

The question that remains to be seen is whether the Saudis will observe the truce and allow vital commodities such as fuel and food to enter the key port city of Hodeida. The last UN-brokered truce in Sweden in 2018 to halt fighting in Hodeida was violated several times by the Saudi-led coalition. 

This truce, announced by the UN, maybe the first to be greeted with more optimism both locally and internationally. The United States of America and Saudi Arabia are seeking calm to confront the repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine and the ensuing international energy crisis, which may explain why Riyadh had included for the first time in 6 years, the opening of Sana’a international airport, albeit in a limited way.  

Also, Riyadh is alleviating the fuel crisis afflicting Yemen as a result of the Saudi-led American-backed coalition’s closure of the port of Hodeida, which will also be opened under the terms of the armistice to 18 oil ships, eight of which have been held off Jizan for periods of more than 4 months.

According to multiple UN agencies, the all-out Saudi blockade has left Yemenis subject to a suffocating humanitarian crisis. Millions, including children, are on the brink of malnutrition and dependent on food assistance to survive. The war on Yemen plunged what was already the Arab world’s poorest country into years of crisis, with failing infrastructure and services and 80 percent of the 30 million population dependent on aid.

Despite this, the Yemeni forces have shown unprecedented steadfastness, resilience, and willpower to confront Saudi Arabia which enjoyed the backing of advanced western military arms to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. 

A truce for two months may constitute hope for the Yemenis to move towards lasting peace and the lifting of the siege. The siege has been the most lethal silent killer and the greatest pain Yemenis have had to endure for more than seven years. 

Taking a closer look at the truce terms could explain what may have prevented the Saudi-led coalition from lifting the siege completely. There seems to be hesitance and fear by Riyadh of highlighting a clear victory for Yemen after the equations were recently reversed with Saudi and Emirati cities being bombed with indigenously made Yemeni missiles and drones in the lead up to the truce. 

The war on Yemen has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis many of them women and children. Rights groups and Yemeni officials have accused NATO and in particular the U.S. and the UK of complicity in war crimes. 

Washington provided intelligence to Saudi warplanes on which targets to strike. However, most of the Saudi airstrikes have indiscriminately targeted residential neighborhoods with hospitals, schools, wedding halls, and the country’s vital infrastructure all being struck.