In this satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC, damage is seen after an attack by Al Houthi rebels targeting Saudi Aramco's North Jeddah Bulk Plant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, March 22, 2022 Image Credit: AP

The Arab Coalition has supported Yemen’s internationally-recognised government's decision to halt military operation in the war-ravaged country on the occasion of Ramadan. This is aimed at boosting the chances of negotiations, called by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to end the conflict.

The coalition’s decision, which took effect from Wednesday, was announced shortly after GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al Hajraf urged a cessation of military operations during the intra-Yemeni talks, held in Saudi Arabia.

“With the view of creating favourable conditions needed for successful consultations and an encouraging environment for the Holy Month of Ramadan to make peace, and achieve security and stability in Yemen, the Joint Forces Command of the Coalition hereby announces cessation of military operations in Yemen beginning at [6am] Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in response to [the GCC chief’s] request,” coalition spokesperson Turki Al Malki said in a statement.

The talks began on Tuesday, with strong support from the United States and the United Nations. But the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia refused to attend, in line with its continuing rejection of all peace efforts.

Political solution to the conflict

The rejection by the group, which is supported militarily and financially by Iran, and has been prolonging the war that killed thousands of Yemenis and led to an ongoing humanitarian crisis, will of course not deter the coalition from pursuing its efforts to bring about a political solution to the conflict, which began in 2014 when Al Houthis overthrew the legitimate government and occupied the capital Sana’a and large swathes of territory, including the vital northern port of Al Hodeida.

Iran issued a statement supporting Al Houthis’ refusal to attend the talks. Meanwhile, a Geneva-based rights group focused on Yemen said the militia has arrested three Yemeni civil rights activists who planned to attend the Riyadh talks.

The talks are being attended by US, UK and UN diplomats. And that is good news for the Yemeni people as the international community gets a reality check of how this Iran-backed militia exert every effort to prolong the war, obstruct all peace efforts, and to terrorise the Yemeni people and deny them the opportunity to live in peace and dignity.

The US and others who have been reluctant to designate the group as a terrorist organisation and put pressure on its sponsor, Iran, may have actually needed this reality check to start supporting the coalition’s efforts that aim to restore Yemen’s stability and territorial unity under the internationally-recognised government.