Tribesmen loyal to Houthi militia hold up their weapons as they attend a gathering to show their support for peace talks. Image Credit: AP file

DUBAI: Yemen’s warring parties have committed to a new ceasefire and agreed to engage in a UN-led peace process to end the war, the UN envoy for Yemen said Saturday.

The announcement by UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, marks the latest step to end the nine-year war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

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It follows recent meetings by Grundberg in Saudi Arabia and Oman with Rashad Al Alimi, head of Yemen’s Saudi-backed presidential council and Mohammad Abdul Salam, the chief negotiator of the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

Grundberg said he “welcomes the parties’ commitment to a set of measures to implement a nation-wide ceasefire... and (to) engage in preparations for the resumption of an inclusive political process”, according to a statement by his office.

The envoy “will now engage with the parties to establish a roadmap under UN auspices that includes these commitments and supports their implementation”, the statement added.

Government welcomes UN-led efforts

Yemen’s internationally recognised government has welcomed UN-led efforts to end the country’s civil war.

The Yemeni government said later it “welcomed the statement issued by the Special Envoy... regarding the efforts made to reach a roadmap under the auspices of the United Nations to end the war.”

The government, in a statement released late on Saturday, also “expressed its thanks” to Saudi Arabia and Oman for their efforts to advance the peace process.

Yemen has been gripped by conflict since the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia took control of the capital Sana’a in 2014, triggering a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the beleaguered government the following year.

A UN-brokered ceasefire that took effect in April 2022 brought a sharp reduction in hostilities. The truce expired in October last year, though fighting largely remains on hold.

Grundberg will now “engage with the parties to establish a roadmap under UN auspices” to end the war.

The road map also includes commitments to pay civil servants’ salaries, open routes into the rebel-blockaded city of Taez and other parts of Yemen and resume oil exports, according to the statement.

“Yemenis are watching and waiting for this new opportunity to provide for tangible results and progress towards lasting peace,” Grundberg said.

“The parties have taken a significant step. Their commitments are, first and foremost, an obligation to the Yemeni people.”

Red Sea attacks

The agreement comes amid a flurry of attacks by Al Houthis on key shipping lanes in the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is fighting Hamas militants.

The Houthis have pledged to attack Israel-linked vessels or ships heading to Israeli ports unless an end is brought to the Israel-Hamas war that started on October 7.

They have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels involving more than 35 different countries, according to the Pentagon.

The attacks by the rebels are imperilling a transit route that carries up to 12 per cent of global trade, prompting the United States to set up a multinational naval task force to protect Red Sea shipping.

Al Houthi “military actions hinder progress towards a peaceful resolution”, Mohammad Albasha, a senior Middle East analyst for the US-based Navanti Group, told AFP.

“The Houthis have transitioned... to becoming aggressors targeting civilian assets,” he said.