UN officials confirm that a deal has been reached on what is being called the “first phase” of a pullback for both pro-Saudi and Houthi fighters from the Yemeni aid port of Hodeidah.
The two sides had agreed to a pullout in December during the Sweden talks, but neither ever followed through. The new deal between the two sides appears to be designed to happen in multiple phases, instead of all at once. This is meant to raise confidence that one side won’t dishonor the deal after the other withdraws and take advantage.
But the exact terms of these phases are totally unclear, and what isn’t being disclosed might be more significant than what is. Indeed, officials have offered no specifics on a timeline for when this first phase is to be completed.
The lack of dates attached to the deal is likely deliberate, intended to avoid pessimistic public comments when the deadline starts approaching. With no specifics on how big each phase is, we also don’t know how close either side is to being in compliance once the drawdowns begin.
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