Saudi FM signals willingness to end Yemen conflict

Saudi FM signals willingness to end Yemen conflict
Adel al-Jubeir said there is a possibility of calming the situation in Yemen as a prelude to reaching a settlement in the four-year conflict, Al-Arabiya reported on Friday.
2 min read
06 December, 2019
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir alluded to the possibility of peace in Yemen [Getty]
Saudi Arabia has signalled the possibility of calm in Yemen in a prelude to ending the four-year conflict, a state-owned media outlet reported on Friday.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir alluded to the possibility of peace when he spoke at a conference in Rome, according to Al-Arabiya.

"There is a possibility to calm down the situation that will be followed by a settlement in Yemen," Jubeir said.

His comments came after Riyadh released a group of Houthi prisoners last week – a step many saw as an attempt to end a war that has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed millions to the brink of famine.  

Riyadh and its allies intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 to back the internationally recognised government, shortly after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa.

The prisoners released last Thursday had been captured in various parts of Yemen between 2015 and earlier this year.

"The treatment we received (in Saudi Arabia) was very bad," 35-year-old prisoner Abdel Raqib al-Abadi told AFP at the time. 

He said he hoped for peace but added if "Saudi aggression" continued, the war would continue "until victory".

On Tuesday, United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed the coalition's decision to release the rebels after meeting with Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi deputy defence minister.

"Griffiths thanked (Saudi Arabia) for announcing the release of the 200 detainees and the opening of Sanaa airport for mercy flights that would allow Yemenis to receive much-needed medical treatment abroad," his office tweeted.

The initiatives coincide with a lull in Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and come after a senior official in Riyadh this month said it had an "open channel" with the Iran-backed rebels.

However, sporadic violence continues on the ground, with at least 10 civilians killed and 22 wounded, including four children and a woman in an attack on Wednesday in a market in northern Saada, the UN said.

The attack came a week after a similar incident that killed 10 civilians, including Ethiopian migrants, in the same location, it added.

"Every indiscriminate attack on civilians violates international humanitarian law. None of these can be justified," Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement.

The decision to repatriate the detainees has been hailed by the Houthis, with senior official Mohammed Ali al-Houthi calling for a "mass reception" to welcome the released rebels. 

Since 2015, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced by Yemen's conflict, which the UN has termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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