US peace proposal in limbo as fighting continues in Yemen
LONDON - The 48-hour ceasefire, which ended midday on November 21st, was not extended by the Saudi-led coalition currently at war with the Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemeni former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
According to coalition spokesman Major-General Ahmed Asiri, the Iran-allied rebels were responsible for 180 breaches during the first day of the truce alone, which included the firing of a missile into southern Saudi Arabia.
Asiri stressed to Al Jazeera news channel that the coalition forces did not breach the ceasefire, but that any attempts by the militia to change the military situation on the ground would be met with a response, which was a precondition of the latest ceasefire.
“We told them that if they move their troops on the ground, if they try to gain position, there will be a response. This is what we are doing,” Asiri said.
“There are people on the ground we have to protect. We have the Yemeni National Army; we have the population in the area.”
According to a statement from the Saudi government, the Houthi rebels and their allies violated the 48-hour truce more than 260 times, 205 of which occurred inside Yemeni territory while 55 came in the form of attacks on the Saudi cities of Jazan and Najran.
The decision by the coalition not to renew the truce has dimmed hopes regarding the latest peace plan, sponsored by US Secretary of State John Kerry and endorsed by the United Nations, which was hoping warring factions would form a transitional national unity government before the end of the year.
However, the US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller has stated that the Kerry peace plan was “not carved in stone” and could be amended. In an interview with the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, the ambassador said the plan was “not a peace agreement” and was intended to bring rival factions back to the negotiating table.
The Kerry plan appeared to have been endorsed by not only the Houthis, but also Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However the internationally recognised government rejected the proposal initially saying they were not consulted by the United States.
More than 7,000 people have been killed and 2.8 million displaced since the war in Yemen began in March 2015. A Saudi-led Arab coalition, supported by the United States and Britain, began an air campaign against the rebels after they overran Sana’a and seized most of the country.