72-Hour Ceasefire in Yemen Set for Wednesday Night

The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen announced a 72-hour cease-fire to begin Wednesday night, after he received commitments from all of the country’s warring factions, according to reports.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the cessation of hostilities will begin at 8:59 p.m. UTC Wednesday and could be renewed after the initial three-day period.

Twice before, in December and in April, a ceasefire was in place in Yemen, but each time those fragile situations were shattered with airstrikes and on-the-ground violence.

A Saudi soldier on the Kingdom's southern border with Yemen.

A Saudi soldier on the Kingdom’s southern border with Yemen.

This time, the weight of a recent attack by the Saudi-led coalition on a funeral in Yemen’s capitol Sanaa that left over 160 dead, and a flare up in attempted attacks from Yemeni soil onto U.S. Navy warships in the region has stirred international alarm about the civil war. As the war enters its 18th month with little signs of a clear victory on either side, Western lawmakers are using the situation to question whether it will continue to supply arms and equipment to its allies fighting there.

According to Voice of America, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi said that President Hadi “agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire to be extended if the other party adheres to it, activates the DCC (De-escalation and Coordination Committee) and lifts the siege of Taiz.” The DCC is the United Nations-backed military commission responsible for overseeing cease-fires in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, echoed the sentiments of his Yemeni counterpart, saying that the Kingdom is prepared to agree to a ceasefire in Yemen if the Iran-backed Houthis agree, adding that he was cynical about efforts for peace after numerous previous ceasefire attempts had failed.

Al-Jubeir said he hoped the United Nations would persuade parties in the conflict to come back to the negotiating table. He said Houthis would have to “come to their senses” and agree that Yemen was free, according to the Saudi Gazette.