Yemen truce expires as prospects of renewal remain unknown

Public servants' salaries and roads around Taez remain points of contention among warring sides

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Uncertainty shrouds a UN-sponsored truce in Yemen which expired on Tuesday, four months after it first took effect, as UN, US and regional efforts to renew it have failed to make breakthroughs.

Analysts and Yemen watchers have made various assessments about the truce's unclear future, its scope and new conditions, even after numerous promising steps were taken to offer civilians reprieve under the fragile agreement.

Up until a day before the truce's August 2 expiration date, Sanaa-based Houthi officials seemed sceptical about prospects of renewal.

The mood was also not optimistic on the other side.

On Sunday, the head of the internationally-recognised Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Al Alimi, described previous attempts at de-escalation with the Houthis as “failed experiments” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He reminded Mr Blinken that the Houthis had reneged on several issues stipulated in the agreement, such as the reopening of roads around Yemen's third largest city of Taez, state news agency Saba reported.

Show of force

On Tuesday, images and video of a Houthi military graduation ceremony under the slogan “if you attack, so will we” was broadcast on affiliated television networks in an apparent show of force.

There are two main sticking points with regard to renewing the truce.

One is reopening Taez's main roads where civilians in need of aid have been living under siege with very little mobility.

The Houthis had unilaterally opened one road in one direction from areas under their control towards Taez — but the government rejected the move and renewed demands for opening main roads specified in the UN-brokered agreement, which it said would have a tangible positive impact on civilian life there.

Another point is the payment of public servants' salaries in Houthi-controlled areas.

“The demand on the part of the Houthis is that the 2022 payroll list is used — which sounds unrealistic but is a legitimate demand because those civil servants work in national state institutions that belong to every Yemeni, not just the Houthis,” a senior researcher at the Sanaa Centre, Abdulghani Al Iryani, told The National.

Mr Alimi previously said his government has agreed to pay salaries for employees living in Houthi-controlled areas.

“Of course the government has legitimate concerns that the Houthis are taking advantage of this deal, but I think it’s the obligation of the internationally recognised government to take all measures to maintain viability of the state institutions of Sanaa, which are the backbone of the Yemeni state," he said.

Updated: August 02, 2022, 2:22 PM