Over nine months into the Saudi war on Yemen, a week-long ceasefire has been formally agreed to, with both the Shi’ite Houthis and the pro-Saudi faction, led by former President Hadi, saying that the ceasefire will begin Monday evening.
“We have agreed to the ceasefire to lift the suffering of our people and to deliver humanitarian assistance to them,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel Salam told a news conference. Hadi’s spokesmen confirmed the ceasefire, but couched it primarily as related to this week’s peace talks in Geneva.
Fighting appears to have escalated in recent days in strategically important areas, with both sides trying to secure last-minute gains before the ceasefire takes place. With time running out, however, there isn’t much sign that any serious territory exchanged hands.
Previous ceasefires in Yemen have rarely lasted their full intended duration, with one of the most significant gains of pro-Saudi fighters, the capture of Aden, coming when a mid-July ceasefire was dishonored by Saudi forces, who later bragged they’d never formally agreed to that ceasefire to begin with.
Since then, the early hours of ceasefires have tended to be tense, with a lot of continued tension and reports of violations by both sides. Having the ceasefire start days before the talks, then, is likely intended to give everyone time to settle into a new calm before the conference begins.