Saudi Arabia says Houthis required to disband militia for peace deals

Old Sana’a city, Yemen. It is a UNESCO Heritage Site that is under risk of serious damage because of fighting.

If you want some background on who the Houthis are and how this whole conflict got started, check my article here:

Some background on the Yemeni civil war, Part One

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition supporting the Hadi government in Yemen refused a peace deal from the Houthis yesterday, the terms of which would not exactly be favorable to the powers fighting the Houthis. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and all the rest of the powers backing the Hadi administration, which was the legitimate government of Yemen before the Houthi armed revolt in 2015, have invested a little too much in this war to just give up.

For the deal, Saudi Arabia would have to cease its airstrikes and lift its recently applied naval blockade of Houthi territory, and in return, would no longer be targeted in attacks by the rebels, and the soldiers fighting for the Yemeni government would receive amnesty. So in other words, the Houthis would get to keep the capital city of Yemen, Sana’a, as well as all the other territory they have acquired up to this point, and Yemen would effectively be split into two countries.

Yeah, not the best deal.

Saudi Arabia and the Houthis had recently been in UN-backed talks to end the conflict, but they ended without agreement, and thus the Saudis have redoubled their efforts to take back the territory seized by the Houthis.

But the coalition against the Houthis will not accept a peace deal until the Houthis disband their militia of about 150,000 troops, according to Saudi General Ahmed al-Asseri. That’s not surprising. The pro-government military is tiny compared to the Houthis at 20,000 troops, and if Saudi Arabia and the coalition left, an unprovoked attack could allow the Houthis to acquire even more territory.

The Yemeni government is even more stringent with its requirements for peace, however, and wants the Houthis to follow a 2015 UN resolution that called for the Houthis to leave the main cities of Yemen, including Sana’a, and return weaponry they seized from the government.

The Yemeni government insists it is approaching Sana’a, and that they will recapture it, slowly but surely. Thus far the Saudi government has been more cautious about using large amounts of its own military, but it may be necessary if they want to end the conflict as fast as possible.


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