As Ramadan gets started, the UN announced a surprise breakthrough on the ceasefire in Yemen, which appeared unlikely until today. They now say both sides have agreed to a full two-month ceasefire, beginning Saturday.
This will be the first nationwide truce in Yemen in years, and gives the war-weary population a nice break. UN officials say the truce is negotiated so it could be voluntarily extended easily.
The UN started with a ceasefire meant for just the month of Ramadan, but the Houthis were resisting when it didn’t include any easing of the naval blockade.
Exact terms aren’t public yet, but the blockade is indeed to be eased some. Fuel shipments to al-Hodeidah port will be eased, and certain flights into the capital of Sanaa will also be allowed.
All this and more was a priority for the Houthis, who pointed out that the ceasefire wouldn’t mean much if it left the blockade intact. Between food and medical shortages from the blockade, the Houthis reported, quite credibly, that more people are being killed in that than in direct fighting.
Ceasefires don’t always hold like people hoped, but if this one does, this is a major chance to not just temporarily restore calm, but to start making serious efforts that could lead to a proper peace process.
This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.