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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 February 2019

Houthis show contempt for Yemen

The repeated violations of the ceasefire show the rebels are not serious about peace
People walk in the old market in the historic city of Sanaa, Yemen. Mohamed al-Sayaghi / Reuters
People walk in the old market in the historic city of Sanaa, Yemen. Mohamed al-Sayaghi / Reuters

The ceasefire in Yemen is over. No one who has followed the news of this brutal war will be in the least bit surprised, but the news is still painful to contemplate. For ordinary Yemenis, entering their 21st month of war, it wil mean only more death and destruction. It will mean more families without fathers, more children maimed, more homes destroyed, more companies out of business.

The worst part is that all of this was preventable. The Saudi-led coalition abided by the ceasefire for the 72 hours – and recorded more than 1,000 violations by the Houthi side. When the ceasefire was announced last week, we wrote that it would be a significant breakthrough if this one held, given how the rebels have treated past ceasefires as mere opportunities to regroup or attack. Sadly, this prediction has been proven correct.

What now? There remains no alternative but a lasting diplomatic solution, but in order to get to that stage, military force has had to be deployed. The deployment has come at considerable cost – to Yemen and its people, first and foremost, and to all the military forces engaged in the conflict against the Houthis, including the UAE.

This country has spent considerable blood and treasure to liberate Yemen from the rebels. The sacrifice of the young martyrs who gave their lives must not be forgotten – and it is for the sake of their memory and for their families that we must continue to liberate Yemen, so that their sacrifices were not in vain.

As before, it is important to pursue a twin track. On the battlefield, keeping the Houthi rebels out of the liberated areas in the south, while seeking to remove them from other areas they have taken over. The Houthis are dug into Sanaa but continue to seek to expand the war – down the western Red Sea coast and even across the Saudi Arabian border. Such incursions must be resisted.

But a diplomatic track is essential. The talks in Kuwait collapsed in August and since then the rebels have refused to return. But there is no alternative to talks. Without them, the humanitarian crisis will only intensify.

The burden of proof is now on the Houthi rebels. If they are serious about acting in the interests of the Yemeni people – as they claim –then they must end their occupation of the capital, stop expanding the war and return to talks. Anything else merely shows contempt for Yemen’s people.

Updated: October 23, 2016 04:00 AM

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