DUBAI: Saudi Arabia presented a new peace initiative on Monday to end the war in Yemen, including a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links, but its Houthi enemies said the offer did not appear to go far enough to lift a blockade.
The initiative, announced by Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, would include the reopening of Sanaa airport, and would allow fuel and food imports through Hodeidah port, both of which are controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthis. Political negotiations between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis would be restarted, said the prince. The offer was welcomed by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in a statement from the foreign ministry based in the southern port of Aden. But the Houthis said the initiative provided “nothing new”, as it still fell short of their demand. “We expected that Saudi Arabia would announce an end to the blockade of ports and airports and an initiative to allow in 14 ships that are held by the coalition,” the group’s chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam said.
Saudi Arabia has been under increasing pressure to put an end to the six-year Yemen conflict since new US President Biden signalled Washington would no longer support Riyadh’s intervention. The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabi and Iran, has been stalemated for years while millions of people are on the verge of starvation.