On March 22, 2021, Saudi Arabia presented a new peace initiative to end the war in Yemen, including a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links.
The initiative, announced by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al SAUD, includes reopening of Sanaa airport, and allow fuel and food imports through Hodeidah port, both of which are controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthis.
The move by Saudi Arabia follows Houthi rebels stepping up a campaign of drone and missile attacks targeting the kingdom’s oil sites, briefly shaking global energy prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government issued a statement welcoming the offer. The Houthis said the initiative provided “nothing new”, as it still fell short of their demand for a complete lifting of the blockade on Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port.
A UN humanitarian corridor in the city of Marib, which has been under months of bombardment by the Houthis, would be supported by Riyadh.
Mohammed ABDULSALAM the Houthi spokesman said to the rebel’s Al-Masirah television: “Saudi Arabia must declare an end to the aggression and lift the blockade completely, but putting forward ideas that have been discussed for over a year is nothing new|”.
Two weeks ago, the Houthis rejected a US plan for a ceasefire because it did not include any efforts to lift the blockade.
The latest proposal comes amid a spike in drone and missile attacks on the kingdom, including its energy facilities, for which the rebels have claimed responsibility.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan al SAUD, the Saudi foreign minister said political negotiations between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis would be restarted. The plan was also backed by the US secretary of state, Antony BLINKEN, as well as by Kuwait.
It has been apparent for more than a year that Saudi Arabia would like to see the civil war end so long as its own security and borders are preserved. The kingdom has accused Iran of supplying weapons to the Houthis with which to attack Riyadh.
Antony BLINKEN, the US Secretary of State said in a Twitter post he had spoken to Prince Faisal “on our work together to end the conflict in Yemen, facilitate humanitarian access and aid for the Yemeni people, and defend the Kingdom from external threats. Also discussed the need for continued progress on human rights”.
Since President BIDEN took office, his administration reversed a decision by US president TRUMP naming the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, allowing American aid to flow into rebel-held territory. He also ended US support for the Saudis in the war.
BIDEN sent Tim LENDERKING, the US envoy for Yemen, to the region to negotiate a political settlement. LENDERKING said earlier this month that the Houthis had an unspecified ceasefire proposal before them for a “number of days,” without elaborating. He reportedly met with Houthi officials while on a February trip to Oman, something the State Department has declined to acknowledge.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera.com, Theguardian.com, France24.com, Dailysabah.com, Timesofisrael.com and, Arabnews.com.