The shadow of civil war is once again looming over Yemen. The inability to reach a new agreement on the part of the international community - embodied in the figure of Hans Grundberg, UN special envoy for Yemen - and the two main warring factions, has ended up dilapidating the results of the ceasefire in force until now. A six-month truce that has served as a parenthesis in the war that has caused the -considered by the United Nations- "worst humanitarian crisis in the world". Yemen's civil war.
"The truce that began on 2 April 2022 has offered a truly historic opportunity for Yemen," said the press release issued by Grundberg, who regretted that "an agreement has not been reached, as an extended and expanded truce would provide additional critical benefits to the population". Building on the promising results to date, the UN special envoy incorporated some "additional elements" into the proposal for a further six-month armistice extension presented last Saturday.
"The payment of salaries and pensions to civil servants, the opening of specific roads in Taiz and other [currently Houthi-held] governorates, [the establishment of] additional destinations for flights to and from Sanaa airport [also under Houthi control], the unimpeded entry of fuel ships into the port of Hodeidah, the strengthening of de-escalation mechanisms through the Military Coordination Committee, and a commitment to urgently release detainees" were among the additions Grundberg sought to achieve in full. But these issues have been a source of disagreement since the beginning of the first negotiations in April, and the rejection of the extension of the agreement - expired on Sunday 2 October - only distances Yemenis from these advances.
Statement from the UN Special Envoy on the negotiations to extend and expand the nationwide truce in Yemenhttps://t.co/jvQdacotkC— @OSE_Yemen (@OSE_Yemen) October 2, 2022
The disapproval of these requirements was also compounded, according to Al-Arab, by internal divisions within the Supermo Houthi Political Council. As the Arab daily reports, international pressure - including the role of the Sultanate of Oman - initially resulted in Houthi approval of the new text to extend the truce. However, just before the previous agreement was due to expire on 2 October, the executive body of the Tehran-backed rebel group issued a statement withdrawing its ratification of the armistice.
"Today's announcement that no agreement has been reached to renew the truce in Yemen is deeply disappointing. It is a missed opportunity to help millions of Yemeni civilians emerge from the brutal conflict into which the warring parties have plunged the country," said Norwegian Refugee Council Yemen director Erin Hutchinson.
Since 2 April 2022, Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council and the Houthi rebel group have managed to reach a two-month ceasefire agreement, and two ceasefire extensions of two months each, in part thanks to UN mediation. This has allowed the country's population to take a small respite from the humanitarian catastrophe in which they have been immersed since the beginning of the conflict in 2014, and the international community to provide them with some of the aid they needed.
Now, after the end of the armistice, several localities have reported new clashes between the internationally recognised Yemeni government troops and the Houthi military.
Within hours of the expiry of the truce, Houthi authorities warned foreign oil companies working in territories controlled by Yemen's pro-presidential leadership council government to cease operations or risk being attacked by rebel militias. The Houthi Economic Committee said that if "the looting of Yemen's sovereign wealth from 18:00 p.m. [local time] on Sunday is not stopped, [the Houthis] reserve the legal right to deal with the looting".
In this regard, reports published by Yemen Net on the UAE's efforts to fend off threats from Yemeni rebels have reported on meetings between Emirati intelligence officials and Houthi personnel in Muscat, the Omani capital. The Emirati officials expressed concerns about threats to attack oil facilities that Abu Dhabi intends to reactivate in southern Yemen to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas, the media reported.
And while, in the international arena, the conflict continues to represent the collision of Saudi (leader of the coalition backing the Presidential Council) and Iranian influences in the region; internally, the Houthis' rejection of the armistice is perceived by the director of the South24 think tank, Yaqub Al-Sufyani, as a strategy by the group to blackmail both the central government and the international community, for which it will make use of the humanitarian, economic and energy situation.
"The truce in Yemen is heading down two dark paths determined by the Houthis: the first would be a failure of the truce and a return to civil war; while the second would be the extension of the truce, which would benefit the Iranian-backed group [the Houthis]. In both cases it is a bad deal for the Presidential Council and the Saudi-led international coalition," said al-Sufyani.