December 15, The Iran Project – After several days of UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden, the Houthi delegation and Saudi-backed former government agreed to a ceasefire for the port city of Hudaydah, principal lifeline for two-thirds of the country which is currently controlled by the Houthis.
The Riyadh-backed side, which represented former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in the Stockholm talks, were forced to sit for talks with the Houthi Ansarullah movement after their massive operation to seize the port city of Hudaydah failed.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had deployed about 10,000 troops to Yemen’s west coast after repeated campaigns to seize Hudaydah were foiled by the Houthis and their allies.
In a potential breakthrough at the end of a week of peace talks in Sweden, the UN secretary general announced that Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to an immediate truce in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah.
Antonio Guterres said the agreement included the future deployment of UN-supervised neutral forces and the establishment of humanitarian corridors. Troops from both sides will withdraw from the entire Hodeidah area within a maximum of 21 days in a process overseen by a UN-chaired committee.
Agreements have also been reached on a mass prisoner swap and the easing of the siege of the south-western city of Taiz.
They also agreed to reopen the airport in the capital Sana’a, which was shuttered last year after numerous attacks by Saudi Arabia.
The accord is considered as the biggest step toward peace in years for a war that has produced the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Iran, Qatar welcome progress in Yemen Peace Talks
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani have voiced the support of Tehran and Doha for the recent progress made in the peace talks between Yemeni warring sides.
The two officials met in the Qatari capital of Doha on the sidelines of the Doha Forum 2018 which is focused on security, peace and mediation, economic development and trends and transitions.
“Truce agreement victory for Yemeni nation”
In an interview with Al-Masirah TV, Houthi chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam called the truce a victory for the war-torn country as it will stop Saudi attacks on the strategic city of Hudaydah.
Ansarullah calls the truce deal a defeat for the Saudis as it stops the aggression, allows existing local protectors who thwarted the Saudi offensive to be in charge of the city, and allows the Yemeni nation to regain their access to food, medicine, and other basic supplies.
First aid packages handed out in Yemen’s Hudaydah after truce deal
Residents of the besieged port city of Hudaydah have received their first aid packages since a truce deal was signed between opposing factions to halt hostilities in the city.
On Thursday, more than 3,200 packages were handed out by The Red Cross to a long line of men, women and children who had waited to receive the food and other necessities.
“Saudis violate Hudaydah truce 21 times in 24 hours”
Yemen’s army, which is allied with the Houthi movement, said Saudi Arabia and its allies have conducted 21 airstrikes on Hudaydah over the past 24 hours in violation of a truce reached on Thursday (Dec. 13).
Yemen’s army spokesman Brigadier Yahya Sare’e told al-Masirah TV on Saturday that Saudi artillery had fired more than 100 mortar shells at Hudaydah’s residential areas in violation of the ceasefire.
On Friday, one Hudaydah resident told AFP that artillery fire could be heard in Hudaydah’s south, while another local in the city’s eastern edge heard an exchange of fire every 15 minutes.
Given the fact that numerous earlier peace efforts in Yemen have quickly crumbled, some analysts had warned that this one required urgent, concerted international support to save it from a similar fate.
Meanwhile, the US Senate on Thursday (Dec. 13) voted to stop US armed forces from supporting Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against Yemen.
The historic bipartisan vote for the first time invoked Congress’ war powers to challenge US military involvement abroad despite the Trump administration’s unwavering support for the Saudi regime.
Around 14 million people have been pushed to the brink of starvation since the Saudi war began in 2015, according to the UN.