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Yemen Warring Sides Don't Extend Truce 10/03 06:06

10/3/2022 - 06:08:00

Yemen Warring Sides Don't Extend Truce 10/03 06:06

   

   SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemen's warring sides have failed to reach an agreement 
to extend a nationwide cease-fire, the U.N. said Sunday, endangering the 
longest lull in fighting since the country's bloody civil war began.

   In a statement, the U.N.'s envoy to Yemen called on all sides to refrain 
from acts of provocation as the talks continue, after the deadline of Oct. 2 
for extending the agreement was missed.

   The U.N.-backed truce initially took effect in April, and raised hopes for a 
longer pause in fighting as Yemen's civil war entered in its eighth year. The 
devastating conflict began in 2014, when the Iranian-backed Houthis seized the 
capital of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen and forced the government into 
exile. A Saudi-led coalition including the United Arab Emirates intervened in 
2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power.

   In a statement, U.N. envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said he "regrets that an 
agreement has not been reached today." He did not call out the Houthis by name 
for failing to agree to his proposal but thanked the internationally recognized 
government for "engaging positively" in talks to extend the cease-fire. He 
called on leaders to continue to endeavor to reach an agreement.

   "I urge them to fulfill their obligation to the Yemeni people to pursue 
every avenue for peace," he said.

   The foreign minister for Yemen's internationally recognized government 
placed the blame for the truce ending on the Houthis. In comments made with the 
pan-Arab Satellite channel Al-Hadath, Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak said that Houthis 
had obstructed the cease-fire and gone against the interest of the Yemeni 
people.

   "The government made many concessions to extend the truce," he said.

   There was no immediate comment released from the Houthi rebels following the 
U.N. statement. But on Saturday, the Houthis said that discussions around the 
truce had reached a "dead-end," and said that they were continuing to advocate 
for a full opening of the Sanaa airport, and lifting of the blockade on the key 
port city of Hodeida.

   The Iran-backed hosted a large military parade last month, showcasing 
rockets and large weaponry, drawing condemnation from observers.

   In the hours leading up to the deadline, a Houthi military spokesman 
threatened private oil companies still working in the country to leave or their 
facilities would be seized. Yahia Sarea wrote on Twitter that the fossil fuels 
belong to the people of Yemen and could be used to pay public servants' 
salaries.

   April's truce had originally established a partial opening of the Sanaa 
airport and the Red Sea port of Hodeida. The ensuing months have seen flights 
start again from the capital's airport to Jordan and Egypt. It also called for 
lifting a Houthi blockade on Taiz, the country's third largest city. But little 
progress has been made there, after talks aimed at reopening local roads 
stalled. Another sticking point is how salaries of public employees will be 
funded, many of whom have not been compensated for years.

   Sunday's statement came a few days after Grundberg met in Sanaa with the top 
leader of the Houthis, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, and other senior officials, who 
have been pushing for a full opening of the airport. The envoy warned last week 
that the risk of return to war was a real possibility.

   "Millions will now be at risk if airstrikes, ground shelling and missile 
attacks resume," said Ferran Puig, country director in Yemen for the 
international charity Oxfam, reacting to the news of the truce expiring.

   Analysts say it remains unclear if further talks could make progress, with 
Houthis feeling empowered and the coalition fighting them splintered by 
inter-alliance trouble.

   Peter Salisbury, an expert on Yemen with Crisis Group, an international 
think-thank, said the Houthis have been behaving as if they had more leverage 
throughout the negotiations, because they were more willing than the other side 
to return to war.

   Compared with forces fighting with the Saudi coalition, "they run an 
effective police state and operate a pretty functional and motivated fighting 
force,'' he said.

   In recent years, the Houthi forces have deployed increasingly effective 
weaponry against Saudi Arabia and their rivals, including cruise missiles and 
drones, drawing accusations that their main backer, Iran, is helping the group 
obtain them.

   Meanwhile, cracks within the anti-Houthi coalition have surfaced in the 
southern provinces. In August, United Arab Emirates-supported militia groups 
seized vital southern oil and gas fields controlled by other forces fighting 
with the Saudi-led coalition. Clashes between them and other forces from within 
the alliance have killed dozens.

   But the truce has led to a significant overall lull of direct warfare 
despite claims of violations by both sides. International charity Save The 
Children said that the truce had led to a 60% decrease in displacement and a 
34% drop in child casualties in Yemen.

   The conflict, which in recent years turned into regional proxy war between 
Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed than 150,000 people have been killed, 
including over 14,500 civilians, according to The Armed Conflict Location & 
Event Data Project, and created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.