PICTURED: Minister of Transport, Abdulwahab Yahya Al-Durra, visiting the large Sana’a international airport as it prepares to resume commercial flights. PC: Saba News, Yemen.
HODEIDAH, Yemen. May 12th, 2022. 2 diesel fuel tankers arrived in the port city of Hodeidah in south Yemen as the ceasefire between the Houthis, the country’s controlling faction, and the U.S. financed, Saudi-led Arab Coalition continues holding into its 6th week.
Entering into force at the start of April for Ramadan, it is the longest cessation of hostilities since the war began in 2015, and according to monitors like the Yemen Data Project, there were no Saudi airstrikes in the entire month of April.
The fuel tankers are providing much needed electricity to a country on the brink of famine, and are part of 18 such shipments that were allowed to enter the country under the truce terms since the start of the ceasefire.
Commercial flights at Sana’a Airport are also resuming, with two scheduled flights out and into the country per week under the terms, excluding shipments of aid, which can total 6 or 7 per day. Also included was a lifting on the government-in-exile held city of Taiz.
Another major flashpoint was the Yemen government agreeing to allow Yemeni nationals with passports issued by the Houthis to travel internationally.
At the start of the ceasefire, the Saudi-recognized government in exile did not allow Houthi-issued passports to be valid. Along with allowing more aid workers into the country, the resumption of air traffic will hopefully bring diplomats.
Steps to peace?
As WaL reported earlier this week, the risk of famine in many parts of Yemen is now very high—as high as the UN will allow itself to admit—essentially meaning a famine de facto, even in places little-touched by the Saudi’s bombs. In that context more than 70% of the population, over 18 million people, are sitting between “Emergency, Crisis, and Catastrophe” on the UN famine rating.
The UN’s Envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, was in Aden recently, another city also in the south, to meet with the Presidential Leadership Council appointed by the Saudi-recognized president who lives in Riyadh.
Together they agreed on the passport change. The UN hopes to extend the nationwide ceasefire after it’s expiration date at the end of May. Grundberg had said separate talks would be held to open roads in the disputed Taiz region, but no progress has yet been reported.
There was also a large release of Houthi prisoners of war, when the Saudi/U.S. coalition transported 154 captured fighters to various parts of the country aboard 2 flights.
Largely absent from these progressions is President Joe Biden’s appointee as State Department Special Envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking. Appointed in spring of last year to try and advance the end of the war, when Biden lied about ending offensive support for the Saudi air and ground forces, the State Dept.’s website has included no updates on his work, or of Yemen as a whole, and news agencies are not including his name in any reports on these important developments.
This is undoubtedly the closest the countries have come to ending the now-7 year-old war since it started. The shadowy president-in-exile, Mansour Hadi, called on the Houthis, at the onset of the truce, to “return as a Yemeni political component that adheres to national constants, and come to the dialogue table to make peace,” in a statement on Monday, according to state news agency Saba.
“Our hands stretch out to you for reaching a just and comprehensive peace and rebuilding our country”.