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Yemen.  What a national truce means for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis


The truce, agreed late last week, aims to end all military operations in Yemen and across its borders. It will also allow fuel imports into rebel-held areas, as well as some flights from Sanaa airport, according to the UN envoy.
The war in Yemen has been described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Considered a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the conflict pits a Saudi-led military coalition against the Houthi rebel group, backed by Tehran. Both countries welcomed the ceasefire.

“I think it’s very interesting that you have these two countries, which have struggled in their own relationship, both welcoming this important development,” US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking told Becky on Tuesday. CNN’s Anderson, adding that Iran’s support for the truce gives it an opportunity to continue its efforts to defuse regional conflicts.

“My hope is that with the stages of the last two days we turn a corner,” he said.

CNN spoke with Peter Salisbury, senior Yemen analyst at the International Crisis Group, about what the latest truce means for the war.

How is this truce different from previous ones?

The main difference with previous ceasefires is that it is time-limited – it is expected to last two months – and is not yet linked to a broader initiative beyond the limited goals of letting tankers into the port of Hodeidah, reopening Sanaa airport to a small number of flights and starting talks on road access to the besieged city of Taiz.

How long did the other ceasefires last? What is the probability that it is?

This is the first national truce since the period of peace talks in Kuwait in 2016. The Houthis and the Saudis directly oversaw a de-escalation in fighting in 2019. And of course the UN brokered a ceasefire. fire around the city of Hodeidah in 2018.

The best-case scenario for the truce (which, it should be noted, is an informal and effectively self-policing agreement, unlike the Hodeidah ceasefire, which was at least partially UN-monitored) is that it leads to the kind of pattern we’ve seen around Hodeidah: sporadic fighting, shelling and airstrikes, but nothing the sides see as a complete violation, and a significant shift in territorial control.

What do you think of the moment, since it is so close to the agreement with Iran?

There will of course be a lot of speculation about links to the Iran deal, but I have yet to see clear evidence of links between the two. In fact, changes in the internal conflict and cross-border war between the Houthis and the Saudis – which saw the Houthis attack the United Arab Emirates with missiles and drones in January and February – appear to have played the most important role. UAE-aligned forces retook territory from the Houthis in January and significantly complicated their efforts to take the city and governorate of Marib by force. The Houthis responded with a new wave of attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. For now at least, it’s clear that the status quo is not working to the advantage of the Houthis or the Saudis, so might as well try a truce.

Where does that leave the internationally recognized government?

Given the Gulf-led talks in Riyadh, I think it’s a broader issue. The Saudis, with the support of the Gulf, seem to be working to recalibrate the composition of the [President Abdu Rabu Mansour] Hadi government to include a much wider range of factions. This would dilute Hadi’s role and influence in politics. The truce creates more space for this to happen and would have been forced on the government by the Saudis. So I suspect Hadi is not happy.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Other news from the Middle East

Israeli minister calls Bucha killings in Ukraine ‘war crimes’

In the strongest denunciation yet of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the Bucha killings on the outskirts of kyiv “war crimes”.

  • context: Footage released over the weekend shows the bodies of civilians strewn across a street following the withdrawal of Russian forces from Bucha. Locals said they believed at least 150 people were buried there.
  • why is it important: Lapid’s comments were in marked contrast to those of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Although Bennett also condemned the killings, he did not blame Russia. Israel, one of the few countries with good relations with Moscow and Kyiv, is wary of antagonizing Russia, whose blessing it needs to carry out strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria.

Israel’s coalition government loses majority

The Israeli government received a blow on Wednesday when coalition chair Idit Silman resigned, stripping the government of its majority. She called for the formation of a right-wing government.

  • context: Silman’s resignation, a step she says she took for ideological reasons, left Bennett in charge of 60 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.
  • why is it important: Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, says the government can fall if there is majority support for the dissolution of the Knesset – which is in recess until May 8 – or if there is a majority in parliament in favor of an alternative to the current coalition.

Turkey and the United States are working to mend their strained relations

Turkey and the United States announced on Monday the culmination of months of talks to put in place a procedure to improve their strained relations, with a view to cooperation in the fields of economy and defense. Ministerial discussions will follow.
  • context: Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained due to issues such as Turkey’s acquisition of Russian missiles, as well as different policies regarding Libya and Syria. In December 2020, the United States sanctioned the Turkish defense industry after Ankara bought S-400 missile defense systems from Russia and later kicked it out of its F fighter jet program. -35.
  • why is it important: The war in Ukraine has led to talks on ways to cooperate, as Turkey shares a border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, and has maintained good relations with both states. Turkey acted as a mediator in the talks aimed at ending the conflict, becoming an important interlocutor between Russia and the West.

Around the region

Egypt is airing its third season of the Ramadan series “The Choice”, a re-enactment of the state’s narrative of Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution and the events that followed.

Less than a week into the Muslim holy month, it has already become the subject of a debate on social media about state versus reality narratives.

Written by Egyptian screenwriter Hani Sarhan, the show features several famous Egyptian actors, with Yasser Galal taking on the role of former defense minister and current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The show has been trending on Egyptian social media since its April 1 release, with many using the Arabic hashtag #TheChoice3 and noting how accurately Galal’s voice and demeanor mirrors that of the president. Others have been much less generous.

Egyptian state-backed media praised Galal’s performance as Sisi, “who saved Egypt from the destructive plans of the Muslim Brotherhood”.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest and most organized Islamist movement in the country. Authorities have repeatedly accused him of promoting militancy and subversion, a charge he has denied.

One of its members, former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, became the first democratically elected head of state in Egypt’s modern history after protesters toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi was overthrown by the Egyptian army in July 2013 in a coup. He died in prison in 2019 while on trial for espionage.

Against the tweets of admiration, angry voices claimed that the show’s depiction of Egypt’s recent history is far from accurate.

“They will never know how to rewrite the history that we have seen with our own eyes,” exiled Egyptian actor Amr Waked said on Twitterwithout saying what the historical distortion was.

Many in Egypt see 2013 as the start of a sweeping crackdown where freedom of expression and the right to protest were severely curtailed. The government has denied the charges.

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