The two-month truce in Yemen is not only the most significant step towards ending the conflict in years but could well be an important factor in de-escalating tension in the region.
The Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, the internationally recognised government of Yemen and the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia have all agreed to the United Nations-backed truce. According to UN special envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, “the parties accepted to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders; they also agreed for fuel ships to enter into Hodeida ports and commercial flights to operate in and out of Sana’a airport to predetermined destinations in the region; they further agreed to meet under my auspices to open roads in Taiz and other governorates in Yemen.”
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged for the agreement to “be the start of a better future for the people of Yemen,” following more than seven years of war that began when the Al Houthi militia, backed by Iran and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overthrew the legitimate government of President Hadi and occupied major cities, including the capital Sana’a.
The government called on Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to support its efforts to liberate those cities and restore security and stability. Thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the war, which led to unprecedented humanitarian crisis that starved millions of people.
Critical moment in the conflict
The truce agreement thus is a critical moment in the conflict. Al Houthi militias however have broken earlier ones and reneged on their commitments. But if the international community can secure an implementation of the militia and its Iranian sponsor, the truce can very well lead to a lasting ceasefire, an end to the conflict, and a political process to restore Yemen’s stability and territorial unity.
An end to the conflict in Yemen will also lead to a significant de-escalation of tensions in the region, stoked mostly by Iran’s aggressive foreign policy through interference in the internal affairs of its Arab neighbours and financing and arming proxy militias, such as Al Houthis, Hezbollah and Iraqi militant groups, to do its bidding to destabilise Arab states.
It is hoped that, with the ongoing talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the revived talks in Geneva to end the Syrian war, the recent UAE diplomatic action aimed at starting regional dialogues and reducing tensions, the Yemen truce will be the start of a new era in our conflict- plagued region, an era of constructive engagement, cooperation and prosperity.