Yemen: Saudi Arabia positive toward Houthi rebels’ truce offer

Prince Khalid bin Salman made the comments on Twitter

epa07524557 Saudi Arabian Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (C) attends during the MCIS Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow, Russia, 24 April 2019.  EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV
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Saudi Arabia says it views a truce called by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels “positively”, two weeks after the rebels said they were halting drone and missile attacks against the kingdom.

Saudi Vice Minister of Defence Prince Khalid bin Salman said Friday on Twitter that “the truce announced by Yemen is viewed positively by the kingdom.”

In a series of tweets, Prince Khalid accused Iran of using Yemen “to further its own interests” and said Yemenis should “stand up along with us” against Iran.

The Houthis’ September 21 announcement came a week after they claimed responsibility for a missile and drone attack against two key Saudi oil facilities. The kingdom blamed Iran for the attack, an accusation Tehran rejects.

The Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia and including the UAE intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Yemeni government in 2014.

Shortly after the Houthis announced their decision to stop attacks, Saudi Arabia said it would judge the rebels on their "actions and not by their words".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told news broadcaster CBS last week he was looking towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict, but Iran’s influence was concerning.

"If Iran stops its support of the Houthi militia, the political solution will be much easier, "he said.

“Today we open all initiatives for a political solution in Yemen.”

Despite September’s offer, the Houthis last Sunday launched a ballistic missile from the capital Sanaa that crashed in the northern province of Saada, in a failed attempt to target Saudi Arabia, the Arab Coalition said.

Just a day later the group denied entry to the UN’s top human rights official. Just after Elobaid Ahmed Elobaid landed in Sanaa on Monday, rebel security officers boarded the plane, withdrew his travel permit and ordered the plane to leave, officials told AP.