Extension of the Truce in Yemen
Q: When did Yemen’s warring parties extend the UN-brokered truce?
A: Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition accepted a U.N.-brokered two-month truce led by special envoy Hans Grundberg; it came into effect on April 2 until June 2, 2022. The truce is extendable for 60 days with the consent of both parties. The extension came into effect on June 2, 2022 once the previous term expired.
Q: What are the basic terms of the truce?
A: The truce brought a ceasing of aerial, ground, and maritime military offensive operations, both cross-border and within Yemen from the warring parties and provided relief for the Yemeni people after seven years of war.
Q: Who are the parties involved?
A: The Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition are the main players in this conflict.
The Houthi movement is an armed Islamist, predominately Shia, political movement that emerged from Northern Yemen and is primarily led by members of the Houthi tribe. The Houthis are largely backed by the Islamic government in Iran.
The Saudi-led coalition’s primary members are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, they are also supported by seven other Arab countries, namely: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. The coalition has utilized intelligence and logistic support from the United States.
Q: Why are the parties in conflict?
A: Following unrest that beset Yemen during the Arab Spring and the ousting of long-term President Ali Abdullah Sallah, in 2014, the Houthis rose up against Interim President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, took the capital of Sanaa, and placed Hadi under house-arrest. In 2015, Saudi Arabia, with the aim of restoring Hadi’s power, formed the coalition and entered the war in Yemen with Iran providing support to the Houthis.
In religious sectarian terms, the conflict can be viewed through the Sunni-Shia lense with Iran backing the Shia group and Saudi Arabia, alongside other Gulf countries, aiming to reinstate the Sunni government.
Q: What are the terms of the truce extension?
A: The extension will continue the ceasing of aerial, ground, and maritime military offensive operations. The Houthi-controlled airport in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, will allow two commercial flights to operate a week to Jordan and Egypt. The Houthi-controlled port of Hodeida will allow the delivery of 18 fuel vessels; roads to and from Taiz and other governorates will be open. However, whether all of these parts of the truce will be effectively implemented has raised doubts as the past two months witnessed events and actions in violation with the terms.
Q: What role is the United States playing?
A: In February 2021, Joe Biden announced his intention to end U.S. support for the Saudi coalition, reflecting a transition in U.S. involvement in and perception of the conflict.
Since the U.S. has been pushing for a peace deal, the extension of the truce can be seen as an effort by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to maintain positive relations with the United States. Notably, on June 2, 2022, Saudi Arabia and UAE also agreed to increase their oil production, a move that aims to ease the spike in U.S. oil prices and another example of collaborative efforts between the Gulf and the United States.
Q: What are the limitations of the truce and how well is it enforced?
A: The truce does not have an established independent monitoring system in place and is not monitored by the U.N. The responsibility to uphold the terms of the truce falls on the two warring parties. However, there have been some hostile military activities, specifically around the energy-rich city of Marib, during the initial two-month truce period. The Saudi-led coalition places blame on the rebel group, though the aggressor has not been officially confirmed.
Q: What are the immediate benefits of the truce?
A: The implementation of the truce has had a direct impact on the reduction of civilian casualties and offensive military operations. By virtue of the roads to and from cities in Yemen opening, the delivery of humanitarian aid will be carried out with more ease, while the delivery of fuel will fulfill a portion of Yemen's energy requirements.
Q: What does the truce convey about the future of the conflict?
A: The truce reflects a shift in the trajectory of the war in Yemen and opens the door to attaining a more permanent peace deal. It allows the two parties to show their commitments to a peace deal and constructive negotiations.