Saudi Arabia offers ceasefire to Yemen’s Huthi rebels

Riyadh also proposed reopening the airport in Sanaa among other concessions. — Reuters pic
Riyadh also proposed reopening the airport in Sanaa among other concessions. — Reuters pic

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RIYADH, March 22 — Saudi Arabia today offered Yemen’s Huthi rebels a “comprehensive” ceasefire, among a series of proposals aimed at ending a catastrophic six-year conflict.

The initiative includes “a comprehensive ceasefire across the country under the supervision of the United Nations”, a government statement said.

Riyadh also proposed reopening the airport in Sanaa, the rebel-held Yemeni capital, and restarting political negotiations between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Huthis, the statement added.

“We want the guns to fall completely silent,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters in Riyadh.

“The initiative will take effect as soon as the Huthis agree to it.”

In April last year, the Saudi-led military coalition battling the rebels began a temporary ceasefire in war-wracked Yemen to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the Huthis dismissed the initiative as political manoeuvering.

The latest proposal comes amid a spike in drone and missile attacks on the kingdom, including its energy facilities, claimed by the rebels.

The Huthis are also battling towards Marib, the government’s last northern stronghold, piling pressure on Saudi-backed forces.

Riyadh led a military coalition into Yemen in 2015 to prop up the government, but it has struggled to oust the highly motivated rebels.

The UN, which says Yemen is facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, warned last month of disastrous consequences for civilians if the fight for Marib continues. — AFP

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