Yemen rebels open to 'positive response' from Riyadh on truce

AFP , Thursday 31 Mar 2022

Yemen's Houthi rebels said Wednesday that they "regret" that Saudi Arabia has not given a "clear" reaction to their ceasefire offer, but said they were open to "any positive response".

Yemen s Houthi rebels
Soldiers loyal to Yemen s Houthi rebels join a rally in the rebel-held capital Sanaa. AFP

The Houthi rebels had announced on Saturday a three-day truce with the Saudi-led coalition, a day after they launched a wave of cross-border drone and missile strikes on Saudi targets.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to prop up the internationally recognized government after the Iran-backed Houthis seized the capital Sanaa the year before.

The coalition did not comment on the Houthi ceasefire but launched airstrikes on Yemen just hours after the rebels announced it.

But late Tuesday, as Riyadh was about to host talks on the seven-year conflict in Yemen -- discussions which the Houthis refused to attend -- the Saudis too announced a ceasefire from Wednesday morning and peace talks during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

In a statement Wednesday evening, the Houthis said they "regretted the absence of a clear and transparent response" to their own truce initiative, but affirmed that they would welcome "any positive response" from the Saudis.

The Iran-backed rebels reiterated repeated declarations that there will be no resolution to the conflict without the "lifting of the siege" on Yemen.

They added that they reserved the right to take whatever "political and military measures" are deemed necessary.

Since 2016, the coalition has enforced an air and sea blockade of rebel-held territory in Yemen.

The Yemen war has killed hundreds of thousands of people directly or indirectly and displaced millions, creating what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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