UN Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg (official)

Between Renewal and War: What is the Fate of the Truce in Yemen?


Sun, 24-07-2022 04:17 PM, Aden

Raad Alrimi (South24)

The UN Truce in Yemen is about to complete its fourth month after being extended for additional two months till August 2nd. This comes amid tireless efforts to renew it again. Although it has served as a real breakthrough in the wall of violence and war experienced by the country for more than 7 years, many articles of the truce have not been achieved, especially from the Houthi side. 

Although the Iran-backed Houthis adopt a negative position towards extending the truce, the group has so far been the biggest beneficiary from the truce at the internal level practically. Sanaa rulers got many free concessions such as operating air flights from the Sanaa Airport and opening Al-Hodeida ports to receive food and fuel ships.

On the other hand, the Houthi inflexibility aborted many basic articles of the truce such as opening the roads. This came despite their rival's unilateral initiative to open the roads like what the STC have done in Al-Dhalea. Additionally, the Joint Forces made a similar move in Mocha-Taiz recently.

In his latest UNSC brief, the UN Envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, was less optimistic towards the future of the truce. The Swedish diplomat warned against raising doubts towards the truce’s benefits, describing this as "dangerous". However, he admitted the complexities that constantly threaten the truce and obstruct the implementation of its main articles. [1]

Over the past weeks, Grundberg stressed on the efforts to reach an agreement to open the roads, especially in Taiz, through discussions that gathered the Houthis and the internationally-recognized government in Muscat. So far, the Houthi position hinders any progress in this regard. The group refused a proposal, delivered by the Envoy's office, to gradually open the roads.

According to Reuters, the UN currently seeks to extend the truce for additional 6 months by pressuring the warring parties in Yemen. Along with the UN pressure, the European Union called on Tuesday to renew the truce for the same period as of next August. [2]

On Tuesday, in a joint quinquennial statement [the US, UK, KSA, UAE and Oman] regarding Yemen, the 5 States confirmed supporting the truce and the multitrack approaches of the UN Envoy. 

The truce gains

Military expert and the Adviser of Yemen's Ministry of Defense Major General Mohammed Al-Jaradi told "South24": "There have been no gains from the truce. Citizens are the only loser".

He added: “the Houthis don't implement what supposed to be real gains from the truce. The roads were not opened and the employees have not been paid their salaries in the areas controlled by the Houthis in spite of Hodeidah port’s revenues".
Al-Jaradi added: "The Houthi military mobilization didn't stop as well as their violations. Racial and sectarian mobilization is endless. The kidnapped people are still in prisons and detention centers while children are dragged to participate in the battles".

In this regard, Brigadier General Thabet Hussein Saleh, military affairs adviser at "South24" said: "Obviously, the truce was from the very beginning in favor of the Houthis. They benefited from it at the military, security and service levels".

He added: "Unfortunately, the internationally recognized government has not gotten any gains, even through opening some roads in the governorate of Taiz and others. The Houthis managed to make the truce's expected gains limited to opening the roads away from the whole fundamental gains related to the degree of their commitments".

However, political analyst Izzat Mustafa believes that "all parties of the conflict benefited from the truce".

He told "South24" that "despite the limited positive humanitarian impact of the truce on people, the parties of the conflicts, including the internationally recognized government or the Houthis, benefited from it in different ways".

He added: "The truce stopped the bleeding of the Houthi military losses. This came after the Southern Giants Brigades liberated Beihan, Shabwa and Harib districts in Marib. The Houthis have rearranged their military power to overcome the rapid and severe losses".

He added: "On the other hand, the anti-Houthi camp rearranged the legitimate house from inside by sacking former Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar and transferring power from former President Hadi to the Presidential Leadership Council".

The post-truce stage

Due to the Houthi obvious exploitation of the truce and the ongoing mutual accusations of committing dangerous military violations by different parties, the failure to extend the truce remains a strong possibility. If so, a question emerges about "what will happen after the truce?"

In this regard, Al-Jaradi said: "If the Houthi militias continue dodging, procrastination and creating flimsy pretexts as usual, the truce will end and the war will return in a way that increases the people's exhaustion and deprivation".

Al-Jaradi believes that "there is an international plot to split the conflict in the country in favor of the Houthis in the aftermath of the truce". He added:"The backers of the Houthis among the international decision makers seek to pressure the internationally-recognized government to sign a military agreement in Taiz similar to what happened in Hodeidah".

He added: "The goal behind this is to split the theatre of the confrontation in favor of the Houthis who will be able to harness all their military power for the Marib battle. They will exploit the international community's indifference towards the crimes committed by them and their violations".

The Defense Ministry's Adviser revealed that "the legitimate forces realize this well and work to prepare strong surprises that abort any upcoming hostile acts by the Houthis". He indicated that "there is a new strategy to prepare for the comprehensive and the final battle".

Izzat Mustafa expected that the war would flare again after the end of the truce and the failure to reach an agreement to prolong it. He added: "The military confrontations will flare again. This will represent the only case that can test the effectiveness of political changes in the ranks of the Yemeni internationally-recognized government".

Mustafa said: "The UN Envoy is likely to resort to the international support to pressure the parties to extend the truce for a third time despite the difficulty and the lack of favorable conditions to achieve this this time".

However, Thabet Saleh believes that "renewing the truce is the most likely among other options and scenarios in light of the political changes and the desire of the international community to shift this truce into a permanent ceasefire".

The expert added: "The inability of each party to achieve a military decisive victory against the other makes this option more likely".

Independent political and economic researcher Haifaa Al-Maashi believes that the Houthis' latest media statements "carry strong indications about the possibility of renewing the military confrontations" [3].

She tweeted account: "The ongoing truce is only a nominal one as it didn't include deep or drastic solutions to end the conflict. Such loopholes must ultimately lead to counterproductive results".

She added: "All changes that happened in Yemen recently are in the outer structures of the authority. This reflects a sort of neglect towards the Yemeni war at the regional and the international levels or deliberated tactics to direct the conflict".

Senior Houthi official Hussein Al-Ezzi tweeted that "90% of those who will be killed in the incoming battles will be from regions that have separation tendency" [4]. He added: "The destination of the battle and directing its biggest weight towards South aim at changing the power balance" [5].

On July 8th, Mahdi Al-Mashat, the head of the Houthi political council said: "the truce is at crossroad due to the violations of the Saudi-led Coalition". He threatened to resume military operations. [6]

A different battle 

Experts and analysts believe that the "post-truce reality and battles will serve as a real test for the new legitimate leadership represented in the PLC".

Commenting on this, Izzat Mustafa said: "The return of the military confrontations along with the unification of the anti-Houthi efforts would make the Houthis lose the ability to take initiative and maneuvers for a long time".

He added: "Ultimately, this could pave the way for the UN to alleviate the Houthi political blackmail and return the wheel of the political process to take a faster path if important military developments occur".

For his part, Thabet Saleh said: "The battle against the Houthis will be fiercer in the presence of the PLC".

He added: "The Houthis were sure that the former presidency was inactive, submissive and passive. Its benefits for the Houthis exceeded its damages. But today, things are different with the PLC which consists of figures that directly clashed with the Houthis".

On the supposed battle after the end of the truce, Al-Jaradi said: "This battle against the Houthis will be fast and qualitative to secure international trade corridors and protect the global economy in the Red Sea and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait".

He added: "No doubt that the PLC has been a fatal blow for the Houthis. The Ministry of Defense designs military plans and fighting programs as well as monitoring them on the ground to pave the way towards the decisive military battle to force the Houthis to accept peace in word and deed".

The Southern Forces accused the Houthis of committing more than 486 military violations of the truce during the month of June on Al-Dhalea front. The forces affiliated with the STC said that these violations killed 6 soldiers and a civilian, and injured dozens. [7]

Moreover, the Joint Forces in the western coast accused the Houthis of committing dozens of daily violations. [8] Saba, the state news agency, accused the Houthis of making 186 violations of the truce on 17th and 18th July at several fronts. [9]

On the other hand, the Houthis accuse the Coalition and their rivals of committing truce violations. Saba Agency claimed that the Arab Coalition and the PLC forces made 172 violations of the humanitarian the military truce during the past 72 hours". [10]

In a statement, issued by SPA, the Arab Coalition denied launching any airstrikes in Al-Dhalea. The Coalition described the Houthi claims as "false". It stressed that its airstrikes stopped since the first day of the truce. [11]

It is not sure that the UN and the international pressures are able to extend the truce in Yemen. Nevertheless, any renewal of the truce along with the continuation of the current circumstances and without making pressure on any parties, especially the Houthis, to implement its articles will empty its content and just relay the crises to later time.

The end of the truce and the failure to build upon it will push for the return of military operations among the warring parties. This means more suffering for people in both South and North in light of the comprehensive economic collapse in Yemen.

Raad Alrimi

Journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies

Yemeni conflictTruceViolationsHouthisOpening roadsPLC