Yemen’s dominant rebel group accepted a five-day humanitarian ceasefire proposed by Saudi Arabia on Sunday but said it would respond to any violations.
Neighbouring Saudi Arabia had said on Friday the ceasefire could begin on Tuesday if the Iranian-allied militia agreed to the pause, which would let in badly needed food and medical supplies.
Backed by the US, a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing the Houthis and army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 26 with the aim of restoring the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
“We will deal positively with any efforts, calls, or serious and positive measures that would help those suffering and allow aid, supplies and ships to move safely to Yemen,” the Houthis announced in a statement carried by state media Saba.
Colonel Sharaf Luqman, spokesperson for the Houthi-allied army, said Yemeni forces had agreed to the truce but would confront any attacks by Hadi loyalists on battlefronts.
Saleh’s compound bombed
For the second day running, Arab planes bombed the vast compound in the capital Sanaa, which is home to ex-president Saleh – a key player in Yemen’s political crisis whose loyalists in the army fight on the Houthis’ side.
Saleh, a wily political operator, appeared unscathed and stood before the ruins of his political residence to taunt Saudi Arabia in remarks televised by his TV channel, Yemen Today.
However, southern fighters questioned the proposed pause. “We doubt the Houthis would stick to the ceasefire or truce because they have repeatedly broken political commitments in the past,” a pro-Hadi militiaman told Reuters.
The UAE said it had dropped 55 tonnes of food and medical supplies over Aden, in the largest such airdrop by a coalition country since the campaign began.
In a sign that the alliance was gaining some support, the Saudi official news agency SPA said that an unspecified number of Malaysian forces had arrived in the kingdom to support the mission, without providing any more details.
UAE welcomes truce
Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, welcomed the Houthis’ acceptance of a ceasefire, saying he hoped it would lead to political talks. “Their realisation that they are part of the diverse Yemeni fabric and not a tool for regional influence is essential,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2015.
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