UN forces continue to oversee Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah

UN forces continue to oversee Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah

Houthi forces will withdraw from Yemen’s critical port city of Hodeidah today, complying with December’s UN-brokered ceasefire. The ceasefire, which

Photo: Reuters/Abduljabbar Zeyad

Houthi forces will withdraw from Yemen’s critical port city of Hodeidah today, complying with December’s UN-brokered ceasefire.

The ceasefire, which is supported by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf coalition, was the first major breakthrough in the civil war in over a year. The withdrawal will be overseen by a team of international observers; if both sides refrain from resuming combat operations in Hodeidah, much needed aid shipments can resume.

While the deployment of observers is a major step in the peace process, it remains only a stopgap until longer-term peace talks can continue. Violations of the ceasefire have been reported by both government and rebel forces. Both sides have also only taken preliminary steps to withdraw forces from the city and surrounding areas. This has raised concerns about the ceasefire’s long-term stability.

In the short term, the possible passage of a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution in the coming months could pressure both the Saudi coalition and Houthi forces to the negotiating table. The resolution would strengthen the role of humanitarian observers by providing them with a legal mandate. However, US and Saudi demands for references to Iran and Houthi aggression are likely to delay its passage.

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