Saudi Arabia proposes cease-fire in Yemen as war drags on

A photo taken on March 18, 2018, shows a Yemeni child looking out at buildings that were damaged in an airstrike in the southern Yemeni city of Taez.

AHMAD AL-BASHA | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON –The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia proposed a new peace initiative on Monday that would usher in the end of the war in Yemen.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said Monday that the plan would include a nationwide cease-fire, reopening Sanaa airport and would allow fuel and food imports through Hodeidah port.

The Yemen civil war escalated in 2014 when Houthi forces, who are in alliance with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, took over the nation’s capital.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have carried out attacks in Yemen against the Houthis. Former President Donald Trump’s administration had backed the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

Trump vetoed a measure in 2019 aimed at ending U.S. military assistance and involvement in Yemen. At the time Trump said that the congressional resolution was “unnecessary” and that it endangered “the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.”

Lawmakers who backed the measure criticized Saudi Arabia for a slew of bombing campaigns that caused thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen.

Last month, President Joe Biden announced the end of U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen and named a new envoy to oversee the nation’s diplomatic mission to end the civil war there.

“This war has to end,” Biden said during his first address on foreign policy as president. “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen including relevant arms sales.”

“At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks and UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian supplied forces in multiple countries,” Biden said. “We are going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”

The president tapped Tim Lenderking, deputy assistant secretary of State for Iran, Iraq, and regional multilateral affairs, to oversee the U.S. diplomatic mission to end the war in Yemen.

Biden’s policy ending support for offensive operations will not extend to military actions taken by the U.S. against al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the region, known as AQAP.

Biden also halted sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia in order to assess potential human rights abuses.

The United Nations has previously said that the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen has produced the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The U.S. has provided more than $630 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen in fiscal year 2020, according to figures provided by the State department.

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