Yemen rebels reject coalition ceasefire


(Ryad) Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday rejected a cease-fire decreed by the Saudi-led coalition, calling this initiative “intended to halt the spread of the new coronavirus” a “maneuver” .

France Media Agency

The United States welcomed the cease-fire and called on the rebels to join this truce too.

The coalition, which has since supported 2015 the Yemeni government in the face of the rebels, had indicated that the unilateral cease-fire would take effect on Thursday at 5 a.m. HEY. She argued that the two-week truce could be extended and pave the way for a broader political solution to the conflict that has been raging for more than five years.

But a spokesman for the Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, accused the coalition of violating the ceasefire on Thursday after it entered into force.

“The aggression has not stopped […] and until then there are dozens of continuous airstrikes,” Mohamed Abdelsalam told Al Jazeera TV in the evening.

“We consider this cease-fire to be a political and media maneuver” to improve the image of the coalition “in this critical moment when the world is facing a pandemic”, he said. added.

Earlier, Yasser al-Houri, secretary general of the Political Council, a high-ranking rebel leader, had estimated that the Saudi announcement aimed at “eluding” a five-point peace plan presented to the envoy United Nations Martin Griffiths by the Houthis before the announcement of the cease-fire.

In this document published by the rebels, the Houthis call for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Yemen and for the end of the coalition blockade on the country's ports and airspace.

They also demand that the coalition pay the salaries of civil servants for the next decade, and finance reconstruction, in particular of the buildings destroyed during the air strikes.

The coalition's announcement on Wednesday evening follows an escalation in the fighting in Yemen, despite the UN call for an immediate end to fighting to protect civilians in the poorest country in the country from the pandemic. Arab World.

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, had estimated that only “dialogue” would allow the parties to “agree on a mechanism making it possible to maintain a cease-fire at the national level” . He called for “the resumption of a political process to reach a comprehensive settlement”.

The announcement of the cease-fire came as Saudi Arabia, faced with the fall in oil prices, is trying to get out of an expensive conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and unleashed what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday, the Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense, Prince Khaled bin Salman, called on the rebels to “show good will”.

“The two-week cease-fire will hopefully create a climate that will ease tensions” and help UN efforts towards “a lasting political settlement”, he said. said on Twitter.

But according to Fatima Abo Alasrar, a researcher at the Middle East Institute, “the Houthis have opened multiple fronts that they cannot afford to close.”

Yemen has so far not announced any cases of contamination by the new coronavirus, but humanitarian organizations have warned of a catastrophic impact, as fighting has intensified recently between rebels and Yemeni troops supported by Riyadh.

The clashes are taking place around strategic areas of the Jouf and Marib provinces, north and east of Sanaa, after months of calm.

And Saudi air defenses intercepted rebel missiles over Riyadh and the border town of Jazan in late March.

This was the first major attack on Saudi Arabia since the rebels proposed last September to end operations against the kingdom after devastating attacks on Saudi oil installations.

Last week, the coalition carried out multiple air strikes on Sanaa in retaliation for missile fire.

The last ceasefire accepted by the belligerents was negotiated by the United Nations in the strategic port city of Hodeida (west) during interyemenite talks in Sweden at the end 2018.