The United Nations’ envoy for Yemen had good news regarding the situation in that country. For the past 18 months, Yemen has seen a conflict rage within its borders. Now, there will be a momentary respite from all the fighting as a carefully negotiated agreement is finally in place. Starting Wednesday night there will be a temporary ceasefire in Yemen. The ceasefire is going to start right before midnight on Wednesday. It is going to last for 72 hours, according to negotiations. The temporary break in the fighting will allow for humanitarian relief to reach the civilian population.
Yemen Is in a Long Conflict between Government and Rebels
The conflict in Yemen has been going on for about a year and half. During that time, according to UN estimates, more than 10,000 people have died. The situation in Yemen does not get as much coverage in the international media as the events in Syria. But the conflict is just as deadly and the situation is equally tragic.
The conflict started with a rebellion against Yemen’s government and grew increasingly complicated as regional powers started getting involved. The government led by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is recognized internationally and is considered legitimate. But Houthi rebels are fighting against the government forces, trying to take power. The Houthi rebels are Shiite Muslims. Also, there is information that they receive support from Iran and have a stockpile of Soviet-era weapons that they could use.
In 2014, the Houthi rebels took over San’a, the capital of Yemen. Since then, they have remained in power there. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was growing increasingly isolated. But, last year, Saudi Arabia put together a military coalition to support the Yemeni president and his government. Saudi Arabia is the principal Sunni Muslim power in the region and wants to defeat the Houthi rebels. Since March of last year Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has received considerable support from Saudi Arabia. Which has kept the conflict going.
The United Nations Brokered a Ceasefire for Three Days
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is the United Nations envoy for Yemen. He is the one who made the official announcement regarding the ceasefire. The UN envoy said that the 72 hour ceasefire is up for renewal if everything goes well.
This August, in Kuwait, there were negotiations for a ceasefire as well. But talks broke down before an agreement could be reached. Since then the situation has become even more complicated. The stakes in the conflict went up as missiles apparently fired by Houthi rebels were aimed at a US ship. A United States Navy destroyer was patrolling off the western coast of Yemen. It appears that the Houthi rebels fired twice at the ship, the USS Mason. In response, The United States hit and destroyed three radar installations along the coast of Yemen. The radar installations were in areas under the control of Houthi rebels.
Speaking in London this Sunday US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for a ceasefire to begin immediately.
The ceasefire will allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Yemen was already one of the poorest countries of the Arab world. Since the beginning of the conflict, ten provinces in Yemen are facing famine.
Image source: here.