Yemen: Houthis say no to Riyadh proposal of 'global' truce
The Saudis are calling for a ceasefire under the auspices of the United Nations. The (partial) reopening of air and sea connections is also expected, together with the start of political negotiations. For the pro-Iranian militias, the proposal is "insufficient": first they demand an "end to the aggression" and the "complete removal of the blockade".
Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi Arabia proposes a "global" ceasefire in Yemen, to put an end to a devastating conflict that continues to cause deaths and injuries, exacerbating a situation of food crisis already beyond the levels of emergency.
It is a first step toward a truce that could favour large-scale peace agreements and put an end to six years of bloody conflict. However, the Houthi rebels have however already rejected the proposal as inadmissible.
Riyadh wants the truce to be managed by the United Nations. "We want the weapons - continues the note signed by the Saudi Foreign Minister Fayçal ben Farhane - to be completely silenced". The plan, he adds, "will take effect the moment the Houthis have accepted it".
It also provides for the partial reopening of air and sea links, together with the launch of political negotiations for a lasting truce with the Iranian-backed rebel militias, which control the north of the country including the capital Sana'a.
However, the Houthis rejected the offer as "insufficient". "Saudi Arabia - says rebel spokesman Mohammad Abdelsalam - must announce the end of the aggression and completely remove the blockade [on Yemen], because putting ideas that have been discussed for over a year on the table does not add anything new ".
The war in Yemen began in 2014 as an internal conflict between pro-Saudi government and Shiite Houthi rebels close to Iran. It degenerated in March 2015 with the intervention of the Arab coalition led by Riyadh and has registered over 10 thousand dead and 55 thousand injured. Independent bodies set the toll (between January 2016 and the end of July 2018) at about 57 thousand deaths.
For the UN the conflict has triggered "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world", about 24 million Yemenis (80% of the population) urgently need humanitarian assistance. The coronavirus pandemic has had even more devastating impact with a healthcare system that has collapsed. Millions of people are on the verge of starvation and experts say children will suffer the consequences for the next 20 years.
The latest Riyadh proposal comes at a resurgence of missile and drone attacks launched by the Houthis, in particular against the energy structures and oil plants of the neighbouring Wahhabi kingdom. Since the beginning of February, the pro-Iranian rebels have also embarked on a ferocious offensive to conquer Ma'rib, the last stronghold in the hands of the government recognized by the international community - a refugee in Aden and supported by Saudi Arabia - in the north of the country.