UN-Mediated Ceasefire Goes Into Effect in Yemen

SANNA:A fresh ceasefire has gone into effect in Yemen, which started a minute before midnight on Wednesday, and will continue for 72 hours.

The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said all parties to the conflict have agreed that the initial time period is subject to renewal and could be extended to last longer.

The ceasefire, which was brokered by the UN, followed days of fierce clashes between Saudi-led invasion forces and Yemeni troops under the command of the Supreme Political Council.

On Tuesday, the UN special envoy for Yemen was in Moscow reviewing recent developments with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

The two diplomats reportedly discussed the chances of resolving the Yemen conflict through diplomatic channels and the role of the UN and the Security Council in supporting peace efforts.

Cheikh Ahmed met US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson earlier in London, where the Western diplomats emphasized the need for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen as well. 

(L-R) US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed make a joint statement on Yemen at Lancaster House in London on October 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi ally and former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also announced their agreement with a ceasefire.

The Houthi-run Supreme Political Council, the top governing body, welcomed the ceasefire but demanded the Saudi invaders halt military attacks. It said Yemen needed an immediate, lasting and comprehensive truce without conditions.

Fighting in Yemen re-escalated after earlier peace talks, also mediated by the UN and held in Kuwait, collapsed in August.

Houthis had declared that they were ready for disarmament and withdrawal of their forces from areas under their control if a comprehensive political agreement is reached in which Hadi would have no role.

However, gunmen loyal to Hadi backed by Saudi forces have been fighting against the Houthi Ansarullah and allied army forces to restore the fugitive ex-president.

Riyadh is currently under increasing pressure from the international community as well as its allies in the West in the wake of a recent airstrike which killed more than 140 people in Sana'a.

On Wednesday, British minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, said the early October attack on a funeral was a “deliberate error” and had been ordered by Saudi rulers. 

Saudi Arabia initially denied responsibility for the fatal attack but on Saturday it finally admitted that the attack was launched by one of it warplanes, which "wrongly targeted" the funeral gathering.

The Saudi-led military campaign to restore Hadi, which started in March 2015, has killed at least 10,000 people.

The kingdom is also under pressure at home where a sense of being stuck in a quagmire is growing more than ever as Yemen's retaliatory attacks are becoming more exact and lethal and the cost of the war is taking a crippling toll on the Saudi economy.

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