Gulf states welcome UN-led peace push for war-torn Yemen

AFP , Monday 25 Dec 2023

Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, on Monday welcomed new commitments by Yemen's warring parties to take steps towards a ceasefire and engage in a UN-led peace process.

UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg
File Photo: United Nations special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg speaks during a conference on Yemen s war hosted by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in the Saudi capital Riyadh. AFP


The commitments announced by the United Nations special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, marked the latest effort to end years of war.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died directly from fighting or from indirect causes such as lack of food in what the UN has called one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

The Arabian Peninsula's poorest country has been gripped by war since 2014 when an advance by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels saw them seize the capital Sanaa.

This triggered a Saudi-led military intervention the following year to support Yemen's internationally-recognised government.

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

Saudi Arabia said in a statement that it welcomed the UN announcement on Saturday of a "roadmap to support the path of peace".

Riyadh's foreign ministry encouraged Yemen's warring parties "to sit at the dialogue table, to reach a comprehensive and lasting political solution under the auspices of the" UN.

Oman, which has acted as a mediator in the conflict, also welcomed the development, saying it hopes a deal "will be signed as soon as possible".

The United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi rebels, commended efforts to streamline a deal on a road map.

Fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar thanked the United Nations, Saudi Arabia and Oman for the peace push and urged the warring parties to accelerate an agreement.

Ahmed Nagi, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank, said the announcement signals that the "UN now leads the negotiations, with the Saudis stepping back and allowing the UN to handle future political deals".

Yemen's warring parties, however, remain at odds over a series of issues, including attacks by the Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea in solidarity with war-ravaged Gaza.

In a statement on Monday, the Saudi-backed Yemeni government warned of the risks and domestic ramifications of Houthi drone and missile attacks.

They "will lead to an increase in food prices in a country suffering from a humanitarian crisis," Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said on X, formerly Twitter.

He noted the rise in insurance premiums on ships transiting the vital waterway.

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