Saudi Arabia launched a wide-ranging initiative on Monday to bring peace to Yemen, deliver aid to its people and end the country’s six-year war.
The plan calls for a nationwide cease-fire supervised by the UN, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and new talks to reach a political resolution to the conflict.
Restrictions on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah would be eased, allowing access for ships and cargo. Income from the port, including taxes, would go to the central bank in Hodeidah in accordance with the Stockholm agreement.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan urged the Iran-backed Houthi militia to join the initiative. “We want the guns to fall completely silent,” Prince Faisal said.
“However, the time frame is up to the Houthis now. We are ready to go to them. But they have to decide, will they put the interests of Yemen first or the interests of Iran?”
The Saudi peace plan was widely welcomed across the region and the world, and was immediately supported by Yemen’s government, which blamed the Houthis for the failure of previous initiatives.
“The Yemeni government is fully aware that ending the suffering of Yemenis will only be done by ending the coup and the war that was sparked by the Houthi militia,” the foreign ministry said. “It is committed to all peace efforts to end the coup, restore the state and reject Iran’s destructive project in Yemen.”
The US welcomed “the commitment of Saudi Arabia and the internationally recognized government of Yemen to a new cease-fire plan,” the State Department said. All parties to the conflict should “commit seriously” to an immediate cease-fire and engage in negotiations under the auspices of the UN, it said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Prince Faisal in a phone call that he supported efforts to “end the conflict in Yemen, starting with the need for all parties to commit to a cease-fire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.”
In New York, the UN said the Saudi initiative was in alignment with its own efforts to end the war, led by special envoy Martin Griffiths. “There’s no doubt that every effort must be made to end the conflict in a Yemen and address the suffering of the Yemeni people and the UN looks forward to continue working with all the parties to achieve this goal,” spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Salman said the initiative gives the Houthis the opportunity to uphold their country’s interests “over Iranian expansionist goals.”