US, Britain Call for ‘Immediate Ceasefire’ in Yemen

Kerry: Ceasefire Should Be Unconditional

by Jason Ditz, October 16, 2016

Western nations have long stayed out of the public decision-making process in the Saudi war in Yemen, but seem to be looking to get at least somewhat involved, with US and British officials today issuing a joint call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire in Yemen.

Previous ceasefire efforts brokered through backdoor channels have rarely amounted to much, with the Saudis usually continuing the airstrikes throughout and then escalating further when the ceasefire collapses. The UN has at times expressed support for such deals, but was rarely directly involved in brokering them.

“Unconditional” would be a huge change in ceasefires, as the previous UN-sanctioned ceasefires always came with vague expressions of support for previous UN Security Council resolutions from before the war, which demanded the Houthis withdraw from major cities.

The Saudis have long used those resolutions to precondition any major talks on the Houthis agreeing to withdraw from all the cities they control, and to disarm and return the Saudi-backed former president to power, since he was still in power back when the resolutions were written.

This has meant what few talks have taken place haven’t gone anywhere, with the pro-Saudi factions rarely even willing to be in the same room as the Houthis, and third parties communicating messages back and forth.

It’s unlikely the US and Britain backed ceasefire would lead to immediate progress in the talks themselves, but an unconditional ceasefire would certainly get them off on a starkly different footing than previous discussions.

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