Despite intense diplomacy, push for Yemen ceasefire faltering

Since February, the UN has been pushing for a nationwide ceasefire, the lifting of restrictions on ports and airports and the launch of a political process to end the conflict.
Thursday 06/05/2021
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking and US Senator Chris Murphy meet in Amman. (Twitter)
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking and US Senator Chris Murphy meet in Amman. (Twitter)

LONDON--Efforts to reach a ceasefire in Yemen’s bloody conflict are not making headway, UN envoy Martin Griffiths said Wednesday after an intense week of diplomacy aimed at ending the fighting.

Yemen’s civil war, which started in 2014, pits Iran-backed Houthi militias against an internationally-recognised government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

Since February, the UN has been pushing for a nationwide ceasefire, the lifting of restrictions on ports and airports and the launch of a political process to end the conflict.

An American delegation led by US special envoy Tim Lenderking and Senator Chris Murphy met  Griffiths during the past week in Oman as part of the diplomatic push.

Separately, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met a militia leader in the Omani capital Muscat last week.

Also raising hopes were talks between a Saudi delegation led by intelligence chief Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan and Iranian officials in Baghdad on April 9.

“We have been discussing these issues for over a year now. The international community has been supporting us in full force. Unfortunately, we are not where we would like to be in reaching a deal,” Griffiths said in a downbeat statement.

“Meanwhile, the war continues unabated causing immense suffering to the civilian population.”

Of particular concern is a fierce Houthi offensive to seize Marib city, the capital of an oil-rich region and the government’s last stronghold in the north.

“I will keep engaging the parties to the conflict and all involved and concerned actors and stakeholders to offer them opportunities to find common grounds to help advance the peace efforts,” Griffiths said.

Yemen’s long war has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, sparking what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The US administration of President Joe Biden is mounting a renewed push to end the conflict, warning that the suffering will only end when a political solution is found.

Analysts say that although the flurry of international diplomacy provides the best opportunity for a breakthrough in years, prospects for an end to the conflict remain slim in what has become an increasingly complex and fractured political landscape.