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File photo: Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels chant slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen Image Credit: AP

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warned on Wednesday that the window of opportunity to turn the ceasefire in Yemen into a plan for peace was shortening. While he said real progress has been made, Hunt also noted that a trust gap remains between Yemen’s warring parties alluding to the fact that the Sweden agreement was not being implemented entirely.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Al Houthis in Yemen has said that the militants have violated the Sweden deal — which calls for their withdrawal from the Hodeida part among other things — more than 970 times. Repeated calls by UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash warning Al Houthis over breaches has gone unheeded. The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition aiming to restore the legitimate and internationally-recognised government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi after an Al Houthi coup in 2014 unseated him.

International players and the United Nations must put the onus on Al Houthis for their repeated violations of the Sweden agreement. Not only have they carried out a terrorist attack on a military parade in Aden, killing several top government officials, but have also attacked a UN convoy, carrying the former head of the observer mission Patrick Cammaert. While he escaped unhurt, the UN issued a lukewarm report, saying it was unclear who attacked the convoy.

Gargash called Al Houthis out for the attack and put the onus on the international community to blame Al Houthis for the current impasse. He added that it was no longer tenable for anyone to accuse the Saudi-led coalition of prolonging the war in Yemen or obstructing the road to peace. “[It’s] time for the international community, NGOs & press to take off the velvet gloves when addressing Al Houthis’ obdurate behaviour,” he said last month. “The Al Houthi militia is undermining the Sweden agreement & further progress towards peace. Addressing this reality is essential for all to move forward.”

For anyone following the Yemen conflict, it is absolutely clear that Al Houthis do not respect any agreement that they have signed. They often exploit peace talks and temporary truces to gain time and space to re-arm and regroup after suffering military losses on the battlefield. The Yemeni government and Arab coalition fighting alongside them have pointed to a pattern of Al Houthis engaging in talks only to break the terms later on. If they are not held to account then the prospects of a lasting peace deal will only diminish.