US special envoy says Yemen truce is first step towards peace

Houthi rebels have realised that a military victory is not possible, Tim Lenderking says

US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking says the Houthi rebels have realised that a military victory is not possible. Reuters

The two-month truce in Yemen is a "decisive moment" in the seven-year conflict and offers hope the warring parties and international community can bring a lasting peace to the devastated country, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said.

The UN-brokered truce between pro-government forces and the Houthi group aligned with Iran, which went into effect on Saturday evening, is a "first step" to a permanent ceasefire, Mr Lenderking said.

"If the international community and parties can work together this could be built into a lasting ceasefire and inclusive political process that ultimately gives shape to a new Yemen," the US diplomat said during an interview in the Jordanian capital Amman.

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We want to build on a decisive moment that helps Yemen turn the corner
Tim Lenderking, US special envoy

"We want to build on a decisive moment that helps Yemen turn the corner."

The conflict has killed tens of thousands and pushed millions into hunger. The last co-ordinated cessation of hostilities nationwide was during peace talks in 2016.

Mr Lenderking said the deal was a culmination of intensified US diplomacy and the Houthis' realisation there could be no outright military victory.

"The battlefield dynamics have changed, all of these things have combined to create what is a decisive moment," he said.

The coalition was able to prevent the fall of Yemen's gas-rich Marib region, where the Houthis last year advanced on most districts barring the main city and nearby oil-producing sites.

The Houthis responded by stepping up attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

However, they have now put aside the "notion of military victory", Mr Lenderking said.

The truce is an opportunity for Iran, which Washington says provides significant support for the Houthis, to show its goodwill in backing the UN-led drive for peace, he said.

"We would like to see Iran move away from the negative tactics and role they have played up to this point."

Updated: April 03, 2022, 7:19 AM
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