Yemen’s ceasefire commencing alongside start of Ramadan

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Jess Diez
Managing Editor & Research Associate, Middle East Policy Council


As of Saturday, April 2 at 7 p.m., Yemen’s warring parties have entered a two-month extendable truce and an accord on fuel shipments and the capital airport in Sana’a. The Saudi-backed government in Yemen and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels will bring down their weapons these next two months, the first ceasefire among Yemen’s conflicting parties since April 2020. The start date marks a significant time period, purposefully coinciding the start of the holy month of Ramadan. 

Writing for Al Arabiya, Washington correspondent Joseph Haboush highlights the importance of the ceasefire agreement, noted mainly by Hans Grundberg, UN Special Envoy to Yemen. Grundberg stated that “the parties accepted to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders; they also agreed for fuel ships to enter into Hodeidah ports and commercial flights to operate in and out of Sanaa airport to predetermined destinations in the region. The truce can be renewed beyond the two-month period with the consent of the parties. The aim of this truce is to give Yemenis a necessary break from violence, relief from the humanitarian suffering and most importantly, hope that an end to this conflict is possible…All Yemeni women, men and children that have suffered immensely through over seven years of war expect nothing less than an end to this war.”

The announcement brings a glitter of hope in the multiyear long conflict. The Hurriyet Daily News notes the role within the international arena to make sure the ceasefire is adhered to and is fully respected, and states the historical fight prior to the ceasefire’s creation: “The rebels have shunned the week-long discussions that launched in Riyadh on Wednesday and are hosted by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Yemen’s devastated economy and its complex political situation as well as military matters and humanitarian aid are all on the table at the talks. Grundberg said he would continue to engage with the parties during the two months, with the aim to reach a permanent ceasefire, and urged both sides to adhere to the truce. The Huthis last week said they had agreed to a prisoner swap that would free 1,400 of their fighters in exchange for 823 pro-government personnel—including 16 Saudis and three Sudanese. The last such swap was in October 2020, when 1,056 prisoners were released on each side.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke on Friday, April 1, stating that the truce must be a first step to ending the country’s war. According to Saudi Gazette, Guterres believes “a halt to the fighting, coupled with the entry of fuel ships, and the easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods in, out and within the country, will contribute to building trust and creating a conducive environment to resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.”

According to Al Jazeera, both sides are seemingly ready to look for a solution to what the UN announced as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Dave Des Roches, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Gulf International Forum, said “I think it’s just strategic exhaustion, the Houthis for a long time have felt that their success was inevitable, but they had a huge setback in Marib city, which has been besieged for over a year…at the same time, you see an expansion into Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi…I think both sides realized, this war is not going the way we want to, maybe we’re going to have to settle for half a loaf.”

Discussed further in Saudi Arabia’s Gazette, an abundance of Arab countries and governments welcomed Grundberg’s truce announcement. The Arab Parliament stressed that “it is a real opportunity to resume the political process and alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people. The Parliament considered the positive atmosphere of the Yemeni consultations hosted in the capital, Riyadh, and under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as a great opportunity for Yemenis to restore the state, praising at the same time the efforts of Saudi Arabia to restore stability in Yemen and end the suffering of the Yemeni people. The Arab Parliament called on the Houthi militias to comply with and respect the armistice, and to deal with the ongoing discussions regarding proposals for the next steps.”

Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also welcomes the peace agreement, believing the plan conveys a strong message about the firm will to end the war as well as Iran’s perspective of Saudi impact on Yemen. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, “Khatibzadeh said that in case of serious and positive interaction with the initiative, it can pave the way for ending the current war. We hope that on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, we will see an end to the conflict and national reconciliation in Yemen through prioritizing the humanitarian issues and promoting prisoner swap, he added. Saudi Arabia with the help of nine other Arab countries, except Oman, has been mounting massive attacks on Yemen since March 26, 2015, to give power back to the former fugitive Yemeni president and prevent the Yemeni revolutionary forces from taking power.”

Non-Arab countries also quickly rose to support and welcome the ceasefire agreement, including Japan, a continued provider of humanitarian aid for Yemen to help reach the potential goal of stability and peace within Yemen. According to Arab News, the Japanese ministry believes “there is no military solution to the Yemeni conflict, but a political solution through dialogue among the Yemeni people. From this perspective, the government of Japan strongly hopes that this truce agreement will continue to be observed by all parties concerned, achieving the import of fuel and the renewal of commercial flights, and lead to progress in dialogue towards achieving a political solution to the situation in Yemen.

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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