The Failure Of The Recent Yemeni Ceasefire

The announcement of a ceasefire in Yemen brought hope that permanent and lasting peace could be achieved in what is the poorest country in the region. Shortly before midnight on Wednesday the 19th of October a 72 hour ceasefire went into effect. The UN’s special envoy for Yemen had received assurances from all parties that there would be a commitment to the ceasefire. The truce was implemented to allow for an increase of humanitarian aid throughout the region.

Violations of the ceasefire are said to have begun as soon as it was implemented. Both sides blamed the other for breaching the conditions of the truce. The government claimed that on Thursday, Houthi rebels had shelled the strategic city of Taiz which is held by pro-government forces. Houthi rebels claimed its fighters had repelled attacks by government forces in the North-Western al-Jawf province. Al-Jazeera reported that these violations resulted in 11 people being killed on the first day of the ceasefire.

When the ceasefire ended on Sunday the 23rd of October coalition warplanes attacked rebel forces in Sana’a. Air strikes were reported over some military sites, in the Hafa camp to the east and in the Nahdein area in the south. Radar positions were also targeted in the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeida and in the contested south-western city of Taiz, residents reported.

The “forgotten war” began in March 2015 yet the conflict can be linked back to the failure of the political transition in November 2011. This political transition resulted in Mr Hadi taking power from the long time authoritarian leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr Hadi struggled to bring stability to the state and the Houthi movement, a Shia’a rebel group, took advantage of this. In September 2014, the Houthis entered the capital, Sanaa and set up roadblocks and street camps. In January 2015, they effectively placed the President under house arrest. In March 2015 the President was forced to flee abroad and it was at this time that Saudi Arabia and their coalition of mostly Arab states began to be involved.

Despite international pressure to make peace both sides have contended that the violations of the ceasefire have reinforced their unwillingness to accept such conditions. Both the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the Foreign Secretary of the UK, Boris Johnson, have called on the groups to implement an unconditional ceasefire. Yet the Hadi government has maintained that the only way peace will be achieved is through a Security Council resolution which will call for rebels to withdraw and lay down their arms.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the war with at least 4,000 killed and another 7,000 injured. Children have been reported to constitute a third of the civilian casualties. Furthermore destruction to civilian infrastructure and restrictions on food imports has resulted in 21 million people being deprived of basic commodities and services. Furthermore, the UN has reported that there are 3.1 million people internally displaced whilst 14 million are suffering from food insecurity. The failure of the ceasefire emphasises the urgency that is required to bring a conclusion to this conflict.

Bohdi Dun
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