Sana’a: Renegade Yemeni troops who helped Al
Houthi rebels to seize much of the country
said Sunday that they had accepted a Saudi
proposal for a ceasefire after more than six
weeks of air strikes.
The announcement came as Saudi-led warplanes
hit the Sana’a residence of ousted president
Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is accused of
orchestrating the alliance between the
renegade units and the rebels.
There was no immediate word from Al Houthi
rebels themselves on whether they too had
accepted Saudi Arabia’s offer of a five-day
pause from Tuesday in the devastating air
war it has led in support of exiled
President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr
Anwar Gargash welcomed the move: “The Al
Houthis’ response to the ceasefire offer is
important. Their realisation that they are
part of the diverse fabric of Yemen, not a
tool for regional influence. This is
important to come out of this difficult
situation in Yemen”
The truce moves came as the United Nations
expressed mounting concern about the
civilian death toll from the bombing
campaign and the humanitarian impact of the
air and sea blockade that Saudi Arabia and
its allies have imposed on its impoverished
Coalition warplanes pounded the rebels’
stronghold of Saada in the northern
mountains for a second straight night on
Saturday after declaring the whole province
a military target despite aid agency pleas
to spare trapped civilians.
“Following mediation from friendly countries
to establish a humanitarian truce... we
announce our agreement,” said Colonel Sharaf
Luqman, spokesman for the army defectors.
The renegade units, who remained loyal to
Saleh after he was forced from power in
early 2012, played a major part in the
Iran-backed rebels’ capture of swathes of
the country beyond their stronghold in the
mainly Zaydi northern highlands.
Their bases have been a major target of the
coalition air campaign that the United
Nations says has killed more than 1,400
people, many of them civilians.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir made
the ceasefire proposal on Friday with strong
backing from Washington which has provided
logistical support for its leading Arab ally
but not carried out air strikes.
Al Jubeir stressed that the truce offer
needed to be matched by the rebels and that
it would be broken off if they made any move
to exploit it for military advantage.
“The ceasefire will end should Al Houthis or
their allies not live up to the agreement -
this is a chance for the Al Houthis to show
that they care about their people and they
care about the Yemen people,” Al Jubeir said
at a joint news conference in Paris with US
Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry said the ceasefire would take place
“provided that the Al Houthis agree that
there will be no bombing, no shooting, no
movement of their troops or manoeuvring to
reposition for military advantage (and) no
movement of heavy weapons”.
He said the pause in hostilities was a
“renewable commitment” that, if it held,
“opens the door to possibility of an
Saleh’s political party, the General
People’s Congress, welcomed the proposal,
expressing hope it would minimise the
“impact of the aggression that has burdened
the Yemeni people with unprecedented
suffering and an unparallelled blockade.”
Saudi-led warplanes carried out two air
strikes on Saleh’s Sana’a residence early on
Sunday, witnesses said. He was not believed
to have been at home when they hit.
The UN Security Council has imposed
sanctions on both Saleh and his son for
their support for the rebels and their
undermining of the transition since his
ouster following a bloody year-long
Coalition aircraft also carried out
intensive air strikes on Saada province for
a second straight night after giving
civilians until Friday evening to flee the
Riyadh said the rebels had crossed a “red
line” with deadly shelling of populated
border areas of the kingdom last week.
Residents reported at least 15 raids across
the province. Rebel chief Abdul Malik Al Al
Houthi’s home town of Marran was again among
Aid agencies warned that large numbers of
civilians remain trapped in the province
unable to find transport to leave.
The United Nations has said that the
fighting and the coalition blockade have led
to a rapidly worsening shortage of fuel that
is also preventing the distribution of
desperately needed aid.
Doctors without Borders (MSF) said it had
been “impossible” for Saada’s entire
population to leave in just hours, and
called on the coalition to avoid hitting
Gulf News May 10 2015