U.S. official: Saudi Arabia committed to a ceasefire in Yemen despite 30 attacks in a month

2021-03-21

Saudi Arabia has unilaterally committed to a ceasefire in Yemen since last September, despite 30 rocket and drone attacks this month," said US special envoy to Yemen Tim linking.  "I was in the region for two weeks to urge the Houthis to respond to the cease-fire, and we offered them the cease-fire plan days ago," linking said, noting that "Washington is waiting for an indication of a response from the Houthis to the new plan," and that he is working with the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the government of   He noted that the cease-fire plan he presented to the group includes elements that allow for rapid action on important aspects of the crisis, pointing out that "no external force, even the United States as a superpower, can impose a solution on the Yemenis", and that "the ultimate solution must be worked on by the Yemenis themselves".  "I am working with the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the Yemeni government to formulate elements of the ceasefire plan, and I will return to the region when the Houthis are ready to talk," he said, stressing that they "prioritize the military campaign in Marib at the expense of stopping the war and allowing assistance to the Yemenis."  "The attempt by Yemeni parties to seize more areas is fruitless at this stage," he said, noting that "countries in the region are providing strong support to end the conflict in Yemen."  "The United States has resumed funding for aid in northern Yemen," the US envoy said, noting that it is cooperating with Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government to deliver fuel to Yemenis, preventing it from being confiscated and sold on the black market.  Linking accused the Houthis of" continuing to deny aid access to areas under their control, as well as seizing funds intended to pay Yemeni salaries, "noting that"the Houthis' seizure of Yemeni funds prevents people from buying food."  "We know that the Houthis are still blocking the arrival of goods and are taking the proceeds that should be used to pay the salaries of civilians in flagrant violation of the obligations in the agreement with the UN, and as a result, private-sector employees are denied salaries and unable to buy food," he added.  "Food reaches the port of Hodeidah, but unfortunately there is no mechanism to ensure it reaches Houthi-controlled areas," he said.  Linking noted that the United States is "working with the Yemeni and Saudi governments to deliver fuel to those who need it and to ensure that it is not seized for sale on the black market."  "When Washington removed the Houthis from the Terrorism Regulations, I thought that the classification would have an impact on humanitarian aid that the Houthis were hindering from reaching into Yemen," he said.  "Some progress" The U.S. State Department said Thursday it has made "some progress" on a cease-fire in Yemen, calling on the Houthi group to stop attacking the oil-rich city of Marib and stop attacks on Saudi Arabia.   The announcement came after the U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen returned from a visit to the region aimed at strengthening UN-led efforts to end the conflict and address a growing humanitarian disaster.  Linking "spent additional time in Riyadh and Muscat, to push the parties to a ceasefire," the State Department said. "While some encouraging progress has been made, more commitment is needed from all parties," she added.  Linking held talks with the Houthis ' chief negotiator Mohammed Abdul Salam in the Omani capital Muscat on February 26, during a meeting that neither side officially announced, according to Reuters.  Violent clashes have been raging for more than a month on the outskirts of the city of Marib in north-eastern Yemen, which the Houthis are trying to storm from three axes, while government forces backed by tribesmen and coalition airmen are battling those attempts that have left hundreds dead and wounded on both sides. In an interview with Al-Sharq, US State Department spokesman Christian James said the Pentagon has repeatedly confirmed that the Houthi group is receiving support from Iran, expressing Washington's concerns about the increased frequency of attacks against Saudi Arabia and denouncing such attacks, "dangerous and unacceptable, which endanger the lives of civilians and innocent people."  "The Houthis should refrain from destabilizing actions in Yemen and respond to international efforts to find a political solution that ends the war in the country," the US official stressed.  Christian James said the U.S. message to the Houthis is clear that they must "stop all attacks, engage in the political process because there is no military solution in Yemen. We have made numerous calls to the Houthis to stop destabilizing activities.

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